I never intended to stay at the Pioneer Square Marriott Courtyard in Seattle.
I was speaking at a conference in Seattle and fully intended to stay at the hotel where the conference was scheduled. However, there was a mix-up, and by the time I tried to correct the error, the conference hotel was fully booked. This left me trying to find a hotel in downtown Seattle that was walking distance to the conference. The conference hotel suggested the Marriott Courtyard.
Now, I’ve stayed at a number of Marriott Courtyards over the years, but none have ever stood out for sheer service excellence like the Pioneer Square location in Seattle.
The Great Service Began on the Phone
While this post is primarily about the staff at the Pioneer Square location, I should note that the great service began with a call to the Marriott Courtyard’s reservation line. The reservation associate took great care in walking me through how close the hotel was to the conference, the amenities at that location, and the room options. She must have spent 15-20 minutes speaking with me.
As I was about to disconnect, the rep said something like, “I’m not trying to pressure you, but I just wanted to let you know that we are almost fully booked for that week and that downtown Seattle hotels are really tight during the summer. You might want to call back pretty quickly.”
I decided to hedge my bets and booked the reservation on the spot.
Culture and Training Always Shows
When a business has a well-trained staff and has inculcated a customer-centric culture, you can always tell. The service does not come down to a nice server here or a helpful rep there; the excellence is demonstrated across every touch point. This was the case with the Marriott Courtyard at Pioneer Square. Here were a few of the examples of service excellence that I experienced:
- The bellhops outside were immediately gracious and helpful. Due to the downtown traffic, my cab was parked three cars down the street. The bellhop walked down to my cab and took my bag inside while I settled with the driver. The bag was waiting at the check-in desk and a staff member was ready to check me in when I walked up to the counter.
- The front desk staff was incredibly attentive — I mean Ritz Carlton attentive. They were never engaged in personal conversations when I walked in or past the lobby — and they acknowledged me, as did the bell staff, with eye contact, a greeting, and a smile every time I walked through.
- Every single member of the custodial staff whom I shared an elevator with or passed in the halls greeted me and asked about my day.
- I was only in the bar for a couple of brief moments waiting for people, but the bar staff was always gracious and friendly.
- The front desk team granted me an extended checkout of 2:00, an extra hour past the normal 1:00 extension. If you travel much, you know how difficult extensions can be. Even hotels with impeccable service often keep hard lines on this crucial operational issue. I was stuck in Seattle waiting on a red eye and with a six-hour check-in window preventing me from going to the airport. Every hour I could keep the room mattered.
- The wait staff in the hotel cafe was on top of their game at every meal. Both at breakfast and dinner I received excellent service. The orders were served right and fast. The staff checked on me numerous times during the meals and was exceptionally friendly. On the final morning, I messed up my coffee order. I realized it just was I was about to take a sip and went back to check whether I had ordered it correctly or not. I had not. They remade the coffee for me, no questions asked, and refused to allow me to pay, even though the mistake was my fault.
Hero-Class Service on My Way Out the Door
As if the above service experiences were not enough. I received a truly Hero-Class experience after I had already checked out. Lam of the bellhop staff truly made an effort to go above and beyond!
The front desk had called a cab to take me to the airport. I waited outside, but the cab never arrived. After a few minutes, Lam (name hopefully spelled correctly!) walked down the street to hail a cab for me in rush hour. Of course, this is par for the course in the city, but Lam didn’t just sit in front of the bellhop stand and wave at any cab that happened by. He went out to the intersection to catch the cross traffic and maximize the chances of getting a cab quicker.
Lam sat on that corner for well over 5 minutes before he got a cab for me, and once he hailed the cab, he didn’t even come back to the bell stand for a tip. Noticing that more hotel guests had filed in behind me since he left the stand, he stayed out on the corner and focused on hailing another cab. (I took his tip to him on the corner — he earned it!)
The above list of experiences add up to a simple equation: good hiring + good training + a customer-centric culture. The consistency of excellent service I found at the Courtyard was exceptional. I’ve had much worse hotel service in a higher price point hotel, as noted in this post, and even the Hotel Indigo in Asheville who WOWed me with their service provided one employee encounter that was not so hot!
A well-trained staff shows, and it certainly did at the Marriott Courtyard in Pioneer Square. Hats off to the management team there, and a warm thank you to the staff for an excellent customer experience!