Canadian Rental Service

At Your Service: Marriot meltdown shows your team needs to put on a happy face

By Russ Dantu   

Features Business Intelligence

As I write this, I’ve just returned from competing in the semi-finals of the World Championships of Public Speaking that was held in Chicago in August. I placed third in my heat, which leaves me in the top 30 speakers in the world for Toastmasters International for 2018 in this contest.

Considering over 35,000 people compete each year, I am fairly happy with this showing, although I placed in the top 10 in 2015!

We were staying at the Marriott Marquis which itself is beautiful – everything you would expect from a Marriott property. The rooms were nicely done with all the amenities you would think this hotel chain would have, except for a swimming pool, which I found quite odd.

Marriott properties have always boasted about providing service excellence. I’ve stayed in many over the years and for the most part, I have been happy. Being that this is a brand new property that just opened late last fall, I expected it to be an exciting place to work where team members would be smiling, have great energy and be bending over backwards to ensure the customer experience was a positive one.

The front desk and housekeeping staff all seemed to be OK, but the restaurant staff was awful, to put it bluntly. We did have two wonderful servers there, one of which was the daytime supervisor who wasn’t supposed to be looking after us but she did, and the other was an evening server. The rest of them didn’t smile, didn’t seem to want to be there and walked around at a snail’s pace. The complete environment was disturbing and getting proper service from most there was not happening. Everyone from the hostesses, bartenders, wait staff and bus boys seemed to be very unhappy. We noticed this from the first time we ate there and the four subsequent times we did as well. There wasn’t much of a selection close by for eating, so we found ourselves taking a cab downtown for several meals because we got tired of being an inconvenience to the hotel staff.


It is rare that I don’t tip, unless the service is extremely bad, and I was very close on several occasions at this property. My tips were minimal, except when I had exceptional service from the two employees mentioned. We did chat with the supervisor who took notes and responsibility for her team, which impressed me. She said they all worked very hard but she would be having a meeting with them to bring our comments to their attention. Before you assume it may have just been my wife and I being too picky, please let me say that many people we spoke to at the convention were not impressed with the service.

This got me thinking about the rental business. Like many hotels, you might only see a customer come through once for a special event or occasion. Whatever the experience you give them will determine if they use your services again (should the need arise somewhere down the road) or whether they will recommend you to their friends or associates.

Customers pay good money to rent our products or services and if we don’t take care of them each time they do so they won’t be customers for long. That will certainly be the case if I ever stay in Chicago again. The Marriott Marquis was a huge letdown and at $300 per night Canadian, that should not happen and I would definitely stay elsewhere.

In your particular market, there are always choices as well. Educating and inspiring your employees to make the customer feel like a million dollars each and every time they walk through your door is ongoing work. Never assume it is happening. Check in on your employees and your supervisors regularly to make sure they are delivering what you expect them to deliver. Check in with your customers to make sure they are happy.

If you fail to do this, you will only realize there is a problem when you start seeing a decrease in your numbers. By then, it could be too late. By being proactive, you can eliminate any issues and remain at the top of your game.

Russ Dantu is a 30-year veteran of the rental industry and has been delivering workshops, seminars and keynotes on customer servicce for over 15 years. For more information, visit or email

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