Research Project: Lack of advanced technology has caused poor hotel operations in Marriott Hotels
Table of Contents
Marriott Hotel manages and franchises many hotels in the world. Its franchising and management contract strategies have led to financial stability and flexibility of the company. However, with the changing hospitality industry, the company needs to improve its technology order to continue enjoying competitive advantage in the market. Studies show that advanced technology improves a company’s operations and gust services; hence creating customer experience, loyalty and satisfaction. As a result, it improves competitive advantage and profitability of the organization. This research has established that customers are not satisfied with the operations and guest service quality of the organization. If this trend continues, customers may find better services from other hotels which offer better operations and guest services. This research therefore recommends that Marriott hotel should establish advanced technologies including biometric technology, mobile and internet applications, reservation systems, and social media technologies.
Marriott Hotel was founded in 1927 by J. Willard and Alice S. Marriot. The son of Alice and Willard, J.W. Bill Marriott Jr. worked in the family business (Marriott Company) since he was young. He grew up in the family business and later became its greatest manager. For over 50 years now, Bill Marriott has been spending his time to shape the company into one of the world’s leading hospitality companies. Currently, he is the company’s Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board. Marriott Hotel is listed in New York Stock Exchange. It recorded total revenue of $12 billion in 2012. The hotel operates in more than 3,700 locations in 75 countries of the world. The company keeps growing both in the domestic and international markets. In 2012, it opened more than 150 new hotels in US. The company’s headquarters is located in Bethesda, Maryland, near Washington, DC, USA. Marriott operates and franchises several brands such as: The Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriot Hotels, SpringHill Suites, AC Hotels, Marriott Hotels and Resorts, Fairfield Inn and Suites, etc.
Through its values, purpose and culture, Marriot Hotel attempts to enhance personal and professional growth among employees, reward customers’ travel experiences, invest successfully, achieve financial strength and business alliance, pursue excellence, serve communities, embrace change and put people first. However, the company’s lack of advanced technology may lead the company to perform poorly in future. Although hotel/hospitality industry does not need technology as part of its primary operations, it is becoming a crucial element in improving hotel operations nowadays. Generally, technology is a key driver in the changing world economies. Technology enables hotels and restaurants to improve their operations and guest service qualities. This increases competitive advantage for such hotels and restaurants, and companies which do not use advanced technologies may end up with poor operations and customer service; hence losing their competitive advantage.
For the purpose of this research, technology can be defined as any activity that involves the use of electronic or digital equipments to add value to guest service and improve hotel operations. Large 4-5 star hotels are the ones that benefit most from the use of advanced technology. Four-star or five-star Hotels that do not utilize advanced technology are at the risk of losing customers and become equivalent to two-star or three-star hotels. One of the major challenges of Marriott is bridging the gap between technology advancement with the business operations and quest services of the company.
Basically, hotel businesses are non-technological in nature. However, technology has now become part of day-to-day operations of big hotels. Marriott International is trying to achieve technological advancement, but it is not an easy thing to do. One of the challenges faced by hotels is trying to define the roles of each employee. Developing the right technology for the company requires each employee to utilize certain skills in order to perform specific tasks using the right kind of technology. It is therefore important for Marriott to develop appropriate technology and define the roles of its employees in order to improve its operations and guest services.
- Does Marriott utilize advanced technology successfully?
- Do the poor operations in the hotel business of Marriot result from lack of advanced technology?
- What is the impact of Marriott’s lack of technology on its hotel operations and guest services?
- What are the competitive advantages of using advanced technology in Hospitality industry?
Poor operations in Marriott hotel can be attributed to its inability to bridge the gap between advanced technology and the operations side of its hotel business, or failure to use technology in its hotel operations and guest services.
This research involves both secondary and primary research methods. The researcher visited one branch of Marriott hotel and conducted survey with on both employees and guests (customers) under the authorization of management. The survey involved open and closed questionnaires which enabled the researcher to collect information regarding to the use of technology and the level of operations in the company. The information will then be recorded and later analyzed to determine the level of operations in the hotel, and how technology can be used to improve such operations.
Secondary sources of data mainly include internet sources. Electronic sources from the internet will be used alongside books and journals to establish the impact of technology on hotel operations and guest services. The company’s website will also be an important source of information regarding the performance of the company in terms of guest services and business operations.
The use of survey questionnaires is an important method because it ensures that the information collected is objective, relevant and reliable. Such a method enables the collection of qualitative data for the purpose of objective analysis. This results in accurate hypothesis testing and meaningful conclusions. Collecting information from the hotel is also important because the research is testing an issue that directly involves the hotel – technology and operations. Using secondary data is also important in the research because it ensures that the information collected is relevant. Secondary sources provide theoretical frameworks as benchmarks against which meaningful conclusions can be made with respect to the primary data.
One limitation of this approach is that some respondents may not be willing to respond to some or all the questions in the survey due to varying interests, attitudes, and perceptions of the interviewees. Some of the respondents may not be willing to expose the weaknesses of the company, and others may think that responding to the questions is not being loyal to the company. Limited resources are also another limitation to the study. There is limited finance to fund the project, and limited time to conduct the research.
The intended survey will involve a sample of 47 employees: 28 customers and 19 employees. These respondents will be provided with questionnaires to fill. They will then return the filled questionnaires within three days. They will not be required to indicate their names if they wish to hide their identity. The information will then be recorded and analysed. The questionnaires will be measured using a six-point Richter scale. This measurement seeks to identify the extent to which respondents agree on the questions provided in the questionnaire. The responses range from Very Strongly Agree (6 points) to Very Strongly Disagree (1 point). These are given the following initials:
- VSD = Very Strongly Disagree
- SD = Strongly Disagree
- D = Disagree
- A = Agree
- SA = Strongly Agree
- VSA = Very Strongly Agree
The success of the company is derived from its organizational culture and management philosophy. Its principles of responsible business include: Human Rights Principles, Global Employment Principles, Supplier Conduct Principles and Environment Principles. Marriott pursues these principles in order to achieve its purpose, values, service, ethical business practices, commitment to employees, and its culture (Marriott International, 2012). The company develops its employees through personal and professional growth and rewards travel experiences for them.
The business model of the company involves managing and franchising hotels rather than owning them. In 2012, the company operated 43% of its worldwide hotels under management agreements and franchised 54% hotels. It owned and leased only 2% of all hotels worldwide (Marriott International, 2012). The long-term management contracts and franchising enhance stability in the company’s earnings in times of economic bust. The company also adds new hotels through the management and franchising strategies with little or no investment by the company (Marriott International, 2012). This strategy has enhanced substantial growth while at the same time minimizing financial leverage and risk in the turbulent hospitality industry (Marriott International, 2012). The strategy also enhances financial flexibility.
The main operations of the company include: selling rooms, serving and taking care of guests, and controlling operating costs of the company-owned properties. The brands of the company have remained strong over the years due to skilled management teams, superior customer service, good distribution, and dedicated employees (associates). The company also has desirable property amenities and multichannel reservations system. In terms of technology, the company has tried to enhance functionality, property reservations, and service improvements through its website (Marriott.com) and mobile smartphone applications that connect to the website (Marriott International, 2012). Indeed, this technology is not enough to enhance innovation and improve all services of customers, especially in operations. It is important to use fully-fletched technology that applies to all operations and guest services from reservation to customer services inside the hotels.
Technology has been considered by many studies to be one of the major driving forces in the growth and expansion of many industries and organizations in the world. In particular, hotel and hospitality industry enjoys a lot of benefits of technology in terms of internal operations and quality of guest service. Marriott attempts to attain customer satisfaction through improved customer services, but it fails to utilize technology efficiently. Improving customer service or guest service quality entails exceeding the expectations of customers, in order to improve customer experience and satisfaction (Cobanoglu, 2006). As the number of travelers and guest service needs increase in hotels and restaurants, there is need to implement technology as a source of competitive advantage.
Technology is an important strategy for large hotels like Marriott. However, many hotels still fall behind in technological advances. These hotels choose labour intensive operations and guest service delivery mechanisms. This approach results in lower hotel revenue. Therefore, it is considerably necessary to utilize advanced technology in order to provide better guest service quality, increase satisfaction and loyalty, and improve revenue even during hard economic times. Technology can be implemented in hotels in many ways: integrated hotel management systems, guest data management, inventory management, design and amenities, and internal communications (Jin-zhao & Jing, 2009). Various forms of technologies can be used to manage all operations and guest services in hotels using a single program or system. The end results of such technologies include: increased revenue, lower operating costs, development of new products, more business opportunities, improved communication, and effective customer services.
One of the roles of technology in industries is to gather information in order to improve guest satisfaction. This can be done at the forefront of hotels. Biometric technology can be used whereby guests are identified using fingerprints. Finger prints can be used by guests to check in, pay for items and services, and enter their designated rooms. This will be beneficial to the guest in that he/she does not have to carry room keys, forms of payment, and identification documents while he/she is in the hotel. It also reduces the waiting times for guests and makes work easier, convenient and fast for them. This technology also reduces costs of operations for the hotel because it does not have to purchase room keys and key cards, or hire more employees to collect payments when customers have increased. It also enables the hotel to monitor clients and analyze guest preferences; hence the company can meet customers’ expectations (Chathoth et al, 2006). Lastly, the use of fingerprint technology enhances security for guests and the hotel because it is difficult for people without access to enter the hotel premises or customer rooms.
Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) technology can also be adopted in hotels to monitor activities (especially guest activities) in the hotel. The activities of guests in a hotel can be turned by CCTV technology into statistics and data. This enhances improved guest services because the company will monitor the preferences of customers and areas of weakness for the company (Koutroumanis, 2011). It also enhances security and minimizes cases of theft, which leads guests to lose trust in the hotel. Guest managers in the hotel can also use the CCTV technology to review the company’s operations and how effective they are. This leads to improved customer experience (Kirby, 2009).
Self-service check-in facilities can also be used hotels to reduce waiting times/check-in times. Chathoth et al (2006) suggests that guests in hotels can even use wireless devices to check in at hotels. A mobile application can be enabled such that customers can just check-in using the internet on his/her mobile phone at any time, twenty four hours a day. This reduces the waiting time that could be experienced if customers called or queued to book for accommodation or other services in the hotel. Emails can also be used to check-in. A mobile application can also be developed in the hotel to enable guests to order of food in their rooms. Social media is also becoming a common way of communicating with clients. Hotels can allow potential guests to enquire for rooms and services in hotels, and to communicate with the company’s customer service staff in case of any other complain, enquiry or suggestion.
In order to enhance the effectiveness of these technologies, it is necessary for the company to hire skilled employees and train them regularly. Each member of staff should understand his/her role and the process he/she needs to follow in the new world order (Ansel & Dyer, 1999). If hotels can utilize these technological approaches effectively and efficiently, they will operate effectively, meet customer expectations, improve guest service, reduce operation costs and improve guest services.
This research involved customer survey of customers and employees in Marriott hotel. The customer survey mainly involved four questions that sought to determine whether Marriott uses technologies that customers can feel their impact. The first question was, “Does the company use any biometric technology e.g. Fingerprint technology?” This question was intended to determine if Marriott uses biometric technologies that customers can easily identify. The second question was, “Do you use any mobile or internet application to check-in or order for services?” This question was intended to establish whether the company utilizes any mobile or internet technologies that customers can easily identify. The third question was, “Are the operations of the company effective?” This question allowed customers to appraise the company and establish the effectiveness of the company’s operations. The last question was, “Are you satisfied with their guest services?” This question sought to determine the level of satisfaction of customers in the company.
The responses to the above questions were illustrated as follows:
Table 1: Use of Biometric technology
|Response||Score (X)||Number of respondents (Y)||XY|
From the table above, it is clear that majority of the respondents did not notice any biometric technology used in the company. This is because the mean score is 3.57 which represent “Disagree” to show that the respondents did not agree that the company uses biometric technology. Most of the respondents commented that the company uses identification documents and key cards, not biometric technologies.
Table 2: Use of mobile and internet technology
|Response||Score (X)||Number of respondents (Y)||XY|
The table shows that majority of the respondents agreed that the company uses mobile and internet technology in its operations and guest services. Most respondents suggest that the company uses its website to receive check-ins and communicate with customers. However, some respondents commented that the company does not provide social media services. One respondent said, “I often use twitter, and I searched for Marriott on the social media to ask about bookings, but I didn’t find it. I had to visit their website.
Table 3: effectiveness of Marriott hotel operations and guest services
|Response||Score (X)||Number of respondents (Y)||XY|
The table above shows that most of the customers regard the company’s operations as ineffective. Effectiveness in this research referred to the ability of the company’s guest services and operations to minimize waiting and check-in times, and increase the speed and quality of services. An average of 2.82 score was observed in terms of respondents’ response to the effectiveness of company’s operations. This reflects 47% of the total respondents agreeing that the company’s operations and guest services are effective, while the rest 53% disagree. These poor operations of Marriott hotels were attributed by most respondents to poor technologies. Most respondents suggest that although the company uses mobile and internet technologies, it does not utilize them effectively. Furthermore, respondents commented that the technologies are poor and limited. Most respondents suggest that those are the reasons why the hotels’ operations are poor.
Table 4: Effectiveness of guest service
|Response||Score (X)||Number of respondents (Y)||XY|
This shows that respondents who agree that guest services are effective are almost the same as the respondents who think that the guest services are ineffective. However, most respondents think that Marriott hotels’ guest services are poor. This can be illustrated visually using a pie chart to make it clearer.
From the pie chart it is now clearer that indeed, those who view the hotel’s guest services as ineffective are more than those who view it as effective.
From the above analysis, it has been noted by this research that the Marriott hotels’ operations are poor and ineffective. Furthermore, it does not use advanced technology effectively. As noted from literature review, technology improves the operations and guest service quality of hotels. There are other factors that may have caused the poor operations and low guest service quality in Marriott hotels apart from technology. However, from the facts about Marriott, it has been noted that the company is actually performing very well in other areas. For instance, in terms of strategic management the company is exceptional. Its franchising and management contract strategies have enabled the company to expand and survive even in times of economic turmoil. Therefore, lack of advanced technology is one of the major factors that contribute to Marriot’s poor operations.
Most employees of the organization suggested that technology is utilized mainly in the internal operations of the company, e.g. in the accounting department. Therefore, it does not affect customers directly. Some employees also suggested that although the technologies used in operations are still insufficient, they are effective. They suggest that they are all skilled in the use of technology, and that the company offers them sufficient training to improve their skills. These arguments tend to suggest that the company still has few technologies that still need to be improved in order to realize full potential of the hotel in terms of operations and guest service quality.
This research has found out that lack of advanced technology has caused poor operations in Marriott hotels. From primary research, customer respondents suggested that they wait long in lines to be served by the company, and that they are not able to make reservations using social media. This research has established that customers are not satisfied with the operations and guest service quality of the organization. If this trend continues, customers may find better services from other hotels which offer better operations and guest services. The company does not also use biometric technologies to improve operations and guest service quality. According to literature review, such a laxity in adoption of advanced technology tends to cause poor operations in hotels. This is confirmed by majority of the customer respondents who suggest that the hotels’ operations are poor. Therefore, lack of advanced technology has caused poor operations in Marriott hotels.
It has been noted that the problem of Marriott Hotel is lack of advanced technology. The hotel uses technology, but it is not yet advanced. The main part of its technology is company website, which is not sufficient to improve the hotel’s operations. The company should improve its mobile applications and allow customers to use them even when ordering food, making reservations, making enquiries, and communicating with staff. A good customer service can also be enhanced in the company by establishing social media interactions between customer service staff and customers. The hotel should open an account with twitter, facebook and Skype in order to enable customers to make enquiries any time. Marriott hotel should also adopt a fingerprint technology to enhance identification of customers more easily and to improve operations.
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