J.W. Marriott Saves The Day

Eric flew from Portland to Washington to give a presentation, but forgot to bring the DVI-VGA adaptor needed to connect his MacBook Pro to his client’s LCD projector. Eric caught the mistake at the Portland airport, so he looked up the number of his hotel, the J.W. Marriott on Pennsylvania Avenue, and asked for their help.

The operator was very patient with me as I quickly summarized my situation. She connected me with HD at the Marriott’s Audio/Visual Department. I spoke with HD regarding my rookie Mac mistake. HD informed me that one of their staff would go out and purchase the cable for me.

Eric wasn’t staying in the Presidential suite, nor was he a VIP, even though he was treated like one. The adaptor he found waiting for him at the front desk bore a J.W. Marriott sticker, and was lent to Eric free of charge. “I think their idea was that they probably needed that cable anyways and if they could help a customer out then it was a win-win situation.”

We fondly recall a stay at the J.W. Marriott on our first trip to DC with our parents back in the first grade; though we don’t recall the service, we do remember that they didn’t object when we pretended to be the elevator operator. It’s nice to see that they’re still working hard to keep their guests happy. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

Minor mac mistake musing [Eric Stoller's Blog]
(Photo: eurleif)

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  1. dscosson says:

    That makes me happy, man. I was pretty sure this sort of service was lost forever in the depths of history, but this proves me wrong. If I’m ever in DC I know where I’ll be staying.

  2. 2Legit2Quit says:

    I don’t know what it is, lately I’ve just been hearing and having grand stories of Customer Service.

    1) I wanted to BUY a replacement speaker for my Logitech system… instead, they just came back and said we’re sending a whole new system out to you for free!

    2) Shure is replacing my Ec2′s for an issue that was my fault (I even told them)!

    3) Verizon replaced my u740 that I had dropped and cracked the outter LCD screen FREE of charge, despite having it over the 30 days!

    4) LL Bean offered to refund me for paint I bought to repaint my outside chairs, THEN, called back and told me that they are sending out boxes to return the chairs for brand new placements and an upgrade!

    AND NOW THIS! :) Beautiful!

    Though, nice hotel story, I was staying at a Hilton in Vermont last Winter and I had a conference to go to one day, and the second day was dedicated to snowboarding! Well, my board decides to not cooperate and my back-binding falls off, bolts gone and all. The Hilton took my board to a repair shop for FREE of charge while I was the conference!

  3. homerjay says:

    I doubt they ‘needed’ one but they probably thought it was a good thing to have on hand.

  4. timmus says:

    Damn, that’s nice. I have to say that in the pre-WiFi days (2000-2002) every time I’ve forgotten my Ethernet cable, the Best Westerns, Radissons, etc that I stayed in were always good about giving me a loaner cable.

  5. Skeptic says:

    This was rather good of the hotel AV department. These days many “in-house” av departments are outsourced so they don’t have the same motivations as the hotel does. Plus, many AV departments resent people bringing their own LCD projectors rather than renting them to the point of charging a “corkage” fee. So, all in all its nice to see a hotel av be helpful just for the sake of being helpful.

  6. Sudonum says:

    I worked at that hotel in the winter of 1999-2000. I was project manager for the GC that did the room renovation. They did not have their own A/V department then. At the time I believe McCune had the contract. Could be another firm now. However in a lot of hotels the Communication Department handles the in-room internet boxes or Wi-Fi connections so maybe they went out and bought the cable.

    I do know that this is basically Marriotts “Home Base” it is the closet property to their corporate headquarters (as well as being a block from the White House. The previous president liked to frequent the bookstore there). Corporate also has many functions there including their annual holiday party. This property gets a lot of scrutiny and the service is always superb

  7. cabinaero says:

    Every time I visit Cebu, Philippines, I stay at the Marriott. During my last visit an earthquake severed some undersea powerlines, causing severe brownouts and forcing the Marriott to switch over to an emergency generator. The generator only had enough capacity to power ventallation fans, emergency lights, and a single elevaor — no aircon. OK, no problem, it’s an act of god, right? I’ve endured worse.

    About an hour after the power went out, I heard a knock at my door. Waiting outside was a room-service tray with a cold decanter of iced tea, a fresh fruit plate, and a few packets of dried mango. Slipped under the fruit plate was a note from the hotel manager, apologizing for the power outage, stating that I would not be billed for the days the hotel was without power, and inviting me to a complimentary poolside barbecue that evening. Every single guest received the same tray.

  8. philipbarrett says:

    I spend about 160 nights a year in hotel rooms, mostly in the mid-price to upper end chains & without a 2nd thought the Marriott’s are my favorite for business travel. They’re sensibly laid out, friendly and best of all avoid most of the usurious “$5 bottle of Dasani” tricks.

  9. ShadowFalls says:

    I just want to point out that the dude needs to clean his cable… Wow is that thing dirty or what? Seems like that cable has more mileage on it than some aircraft.

    Service like this is nice, and not uncommon. I would say it was shear luck really, you can’t say all their hotels will be the same, but it is good to at least see one going out of the way like this. Sure ethernet cables are reasonable to loan out, but DVI-VGA converters are less common to see in IT departments.

    I am sure they just absorbed the cost to make a customer happy and have it on hand later just in case.

  10. TSS says:

    Marriotts are by far my favorite hotel chain.

    This has nothing to do with anything, but when else will I get to tell this story? My mother taught some of the Marriott children back in the 1960s. She said they were all great kids – smart, hard-working, friendly.

  11. Scuba Steve says:

    Reminds me of the time I tripped over the cable that connects the computer to the projector box, completely ruining the cable and spending a good 10 minutes standing in front of 1000 people explaining to them what a clumsy person I was and how we’d get everything up in running just as soon as we got a replacement cable.

    Luckily someone in the audience had that cable on them for their dorm, and we borrowed it to do our presentation.

    It was about making games so it of course rocked.

    No standing ovations, but definitely a fun thing to watch.

  12. MBPharmD says:

    Does everybody here realize there’s a BIG difference between a Marriott and a JW Marriott? In my town, the Marriott goes for $120-150 a night whereas the JW starts at $300. I would think this kind of service should be expected from a hotel chain this upscale (i.e. Ritz Carlton-esque). Of course, since I read this site regularly I know service isn’t usually what it should be, but still. . .

  13. categorically says:

    /me agrees with MBPharmD.

    It is a freaking JW Marriott. The whole point of staying there is for this kind of service.

  14. nucleotide says:

    This kind of service is to be expected from a well run 5 star hotel. If you don’t get this kind of treatment you’re being ripped off. Complain! Like MBPharmD said there is a big difference between regular Mariott and JW Marrott. The same disparity in standards exist between the Park Hyatt and regular Hyatt. So does the price.

  15. geekaren says:

    Having stayed at the JW Marriot in DC, I’m not surprised by the service this guest received.

    Having said that, I’ve received pretty stellar service at most Marriotts I’ve been to. I’ve found that Marriott staff generally wants to ensure guests have a pleasant stay, and will go the extra mile especially when the guest has a special need.

    JW Marriott even wrote a book about service (btw, for those who enjoy business books, it’s worth a read):
    The Spirit to Serve – Marriott’s Way

  16. Sudonum says:

    @MBPharmD:
    Marriott also owns Ritz. The J.W. Marriott is supposed to something (price/service) between a regular Marriott and a Ritz. Not quite sure how that works, but thats the theory.

  17. fax says:

    It was nice of the A/V department to get the Mac DVI-VGA dongle, but if you’ll allow me one snarky comment, they really need to go by themselves a nice clean new VGA cable, I mean really you want that crusty old thing hooked up to your nice clean PowerBook and nice new dongle, I’m just sayin’…
    I hope you tipped the guy in the A/V department by the way.

  18. philipbarrett says:

    My comments were based on frequent stays at both regular and JW Marriotts. The kind of service praised here (which should be expected at all 5 star chains) often comes with a hefty price tag at many.

  19. petrol420 says:

    I work for an A/V company that is in a Hyatt hotel. Marriots are unique in that they have their own in house A/V that is run by the Marriot. Most hotels have a contract with an A/V company to be their in-house A/V. User Skeptic mentions that contracted in-house A/V companies are less motivated to help guests because we aren’t owned by the hotel but that could be further from the truth. Our contracts are re-signed every 5 years and it would be devastating to not have a hotel re-sign the contract because that would put us out of a job and there are so many other A/V companies ready to take our place. Also, we don’t resent clients bringing in their own projectors because that usually means that we don’t have to set it up, just the screen and the projector cart BUT if the client is having a problem with their OWN projector, we are always happy to help that client. What in-house A/V companies do resent are the big shows that we lose to an outside A/V company. Those shows are big money and out of the 20 or so outside A/V companies that I’ve had to supervise, (it’s a hotel thing) only one company fully came prepared. That means us in-house A/V guys are usually bailing out the outside A/V guys because of their incompetence. And this is usually something that made apparent to the main client that their A/V crew can’t prepare correctly for a big show.

    Although in-house A/V costs quite a bit of money, I think its worth it in the long run because we are always ready for any problem because we got a bunch of equipment on-site. We have 3 of those Mac DVI to VGA converters and would buy more if we needed them.

    btw, that VGA cord is all jacked up because its probably been taped on a bunch of times. A/V and duct tape go hand in hand.

  20. Helvetian says:

    @cabinaero: That sounds wonderful. How was the bbq? I hope it was good.

    @Sudonum: Yes exactly, JW Marriott’s are the premium line of Marriott’s. Conrad is for Hilton, Sheraton has The Luxury Collection and St. Regis, and modern chic luxury would be W Hotels.

    I’ve had many great service moments, but one that was especially special was during a stay at the Sheraton Imperiala, Luxury Collection hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I checked in on a Friday for two nights, Sat was my birthday. I was with one of my great friends from Singapore, and when we got back to the room that afternoon, two staff came with a beautiful amazing birthday cake and wished me a Happy Birthday. The cake was so beautiful, and had my name on it. Maybe it was just so beautiful because it felt so special. I know it sounds corny, but it really meant a lot to me. I’ll never forget that, I still cherish that today. Well it was just two years ago, but still.

    Anyway I am getting too sappy, better click submit ;)

  21. 3ZKL says:

    @Skeptic: being the one & only av nerd for a small IT department in a professional school at a major public university, i understand the ‘resentment’ of which you speak. we never charge anyone to use our equipment, but i often refuse to support their personal lcd/laptop combo. why? because it opens pandoras box. not to mention, when it doesnt work — i look like the idiot. lets just use my equipment in the first place & save ourselves both some face. kthnx.

    it makes perfect sense that a private hotel would charge a fee to use your own equipment with the expectation of most that they will be there to support you when it fails. ‘oh you forgot an extension cord? well, our projector has one already in its kit. that will be 10$ please.’

    as much as i would love to charge people 10$ for running them an extension cord up 6 flights of stairs, i will do it with a smile on my face every time.

    that being said, i am very pleased to read this post about one av team going above & beyond. like most said, even though we are talking about a hotel in the upper echelon of service, its nice to know some people out there care enough to make things right. and now not only do they have a spare adapter for the next forgetful presenter, but a shiny gold consumerist star.

  22. mmcnary says:

    I have to admit that I used to like the Marriott chain until they went all non-smoking. My wife smokes and so she doesn’t want to stay where she can’t smoke. I myself enjoy an occasional cigar and since it’s not illegal to smoke (yet) I don’t see the point in giving my travel dollars to a hotel chain that is unwilling to accommodate my needs.

  23. aparsons says:

    @mmcnary:

    The hotel rooms smell terrible even months after banning smoking. Some of us prefer to travel to hotels and leave not smelling like we just walked out of a bar. Us non-smokers have rights too, and if you want to smoke, you can stay at your own home and smoke, stay at a Motel6, or {gasp} smoke outside.

    As for the Marriott, I’ve stayed there on business the past year and couldn’t be happier. The people are ALWAYS friendly and always willing to do whatever it takes to make sure your stay is pleasant. I also had access to the concierge lounge and the associate in the lounge would frequently bring me meals from restaurants along her commute to work.

    Their rooms are all upgraded as well; I stayed at a Hilton DoubleTree in Lowell, MA and there was no shower head – just a pipe sticking out of the wall. When I asked to be moved, all they had were smoking rooms (another reason – mmcnary – why smoking should be banned in hotel rooms).

    So this article doesn’t surprise me about Marriott. Good job!