“I got married over Labor Day weekend in North Chicago, Illinois. We did a lot of advance legwork to set up a hotel for our guests that was close to the venue and convenient. Our wedding venue recommended the Marriott Courtyard in Waukegan/Gurnee. It was more expensive then the other hotels in the area and a bit further away, but they offered something irresistible– a free shuttle to and from the wedding venue for all of our guests staying there. Since we had been contemplating hiring vans to shuttle our guests around so no one would drive drunk, this was a no-brainer. Plus, the Marriott has a good brand name and we felt confident things would go smoothly.
I phoned the sales office and spoke to a lovely, competent sounding woman who told me that yes, the Marriott would provide shuttles to and from the wedding, and not only that, would set up a private meeting room for our “recovery brunch” the next day. She said the Marriott had a brunch buffet (with waffles!) from 9-12, and that we could have the private room from 9-1. In addition, she said our room would be free if 10 rooms were booked, and that the hotel would set us up with champagne and roses for our wedding night. Perfect. We confirmed the details, and reconfirmed several times in the weeks before the wedding. We gleefully urged our guests to stay at the Marriott.
Flash forward to the day of our wedding. I suppose I could have guessed there was a problem with the shuttle when I saw the maid of honor drop off a car full of guests, then turn around to pick up another load. I also might have guessed it at the end of the night when I was urging people to wait for shuttles that were promised to arrive at 11:00 and 11:20, and saw them still waiting at 11:30. Maybe the absence of anything in our room: champagne, flowers or a congratulatory note might have tipped me off. But I was clueless until the next morning when I went to the meeting room that had the sign with our names on it, found it locked, went to the front desk and was informed that they had the brunch and the shuttles for us on Saturday. The day before our wedding. They said these were the dates they had gotten from the sales office. The woman at the desk arranged for us to eat at the bar of the restaurant next door– we scrambled to call everyone we thought might show– and we descended on the understaffed and unsuspecting waitstaff.
On Thursday, new husband called the Marriott sales office to let them know all the ways they screwed up. The sales office had all the dates and times correct; they passed the blame to the hotel itself. The sales office called the manager of the hotel and promised we would hear from him. My husband called him directly when we didn’t. The manager apologized, asked us what he could do to make things right. We’ve asked for free hotel stays at Marriott hotels anywhere in the US for the rest of our lives. But I’m so angry, I feel like all our guests staying at the Marriott that night should get some kind of voucher as well. The manager said he’d get back to us. I figure this is just the start of our dealings with Marriott– the CEO should probably hear about this too.
I keep trying not to think about my father in the lobby waiting for a shuttle that never came, or what might have happened to friends and family who decided to drive after drinking because there was no shuttle to the hotel. These thoughts are overshadowing my memories of our otherwise perfect wedding, and I’m furious!”
Congratulations on your wedding, Natalie! Marriott’s executive officers should hear your story. Ole J.W. is pushing 75, so you may want to direct your complaint to his direct subordinate, Marriott President William Shaw. Call (301) 380-3000 and ask for his office. Tell your story to whoever picks up, though don’t be surprised if they’re less than willing to offer free lifetime stays.