Brand image is very important to most of us, especially those who work at companies and organizations vitally dependent on direct customer loyalty. Last week I realized, again, just how important the little things can contribute to that brand image.
I'm not a hotel snob, and when I travel I generally don't bother to pay the extra for full-service hotels with fancy restaurants and extravagant lounges. But I do value a nice comfortable bed. Westin is my first choice, but usually more than I want to pay, therefore I tend to frequent Marriott's Courtyards and Hilton's Hampton Inns. The same bed as their high-end hotels but without all the fluff downstairs. They are also incredibly consistent, no matter which city I'm in. Occasionally I also try a Sheraton, and up until recently I had considered them a small step below a Marriott.
But Sheraton needs to put some focus into quality and consistency as two of my recent stays, one in Palo Alto, CA and one in Newton just outside Boston have been seriously below their norm. Or at least I hope their norm hasn't fallen so low.
The Newton Sheraton is an interesting creature, literally built on an overpass over the Massachusetts Turnpike. I applaud the creativity of using otherwise unused vertical space without having to destroy more trees, and they did a fairly good job of muffling the noise from one of the most-traveled highways in the state. Before I begin my rant, I would suggest that the following two statements on their home page are just a little incongruous.
Whether you’re searching for the perfect wedding venue…
Ah yes, a scenic wedding over the Turnpike… But I digress. Although the bed was fairly comfortable, and
because of that sole point I would usually rate the hotel fundamentally acceptable, there were several small problem areas. Let's start with the jumbled and even scribbled numbers on the elevator buttons. Then you're met with frayed carpet as you walk into the room.
The doors are seriously dinged up, there are stains on the hallway carpet, and wall molding doesn't exactly look flush.
Does any of this directly affect the comfort of the bed, my primary concern? No. But I have to wonder if they pay such little attention to the cleanliness and upkeep of the hotel itself, how much attention do they pay to cleaning the sheets? Ick. This is a Sheraton, not a Super 8.
Little things do matter, and even if they are unrelated to the primary decision-driver, they can still have considerable impact on that decision. Frayed carpet, dings in doors, and jumbled elevator buttons will mean I probably won't consider a Sheraton again, especially if there are other choices.
I excercised my consumer power, checked out early, went a couple miles down the Charles and finished my stay at the Marriott Courtyard in Cambridge… clean, comfortable, with a great view of downtown Boston. For the same price.