patrick leddin

David Marriott Asked Me One Question: You Should Ask this of Every Customer

You are likely familiar with one, if not several, of Marriott International’s brands. With revenue of $22.69 billion in 2017, Marriott is the largest hotel group in the world.

Marriott is my hotel of choice, but that wasn’t always the case.

You are likely familiar with one, if not several, of Marriott International’s brands. Marriott is the world’s largest hotel group generating $22.69 billion in 2017. Marriott is my hotel of choice, but that wasn’t always the case.

Several years ago, I was sitting in a meeting. For a portion of the day, I sat next to David Marriott, the grandson of the company’s founder. At one point, David and I struck up a conversation.

I shared with him that I travel a great deal for work and he asked, “Do you always stay at our hotels?”

With a bit of hesitation, I answered, “Always? No.” I quickly added, “However, I do often stay at your properties.”

He thanked me for my business and then inquired, “Would you be willing to give us all or at least most of your business in the future?”

I paused for a second, considered what was being asked, and answered, “I could do that.”

As I reflect on my response all of these years later, I think three things led me to provide an unequivocal, ‘yes.’

  1. There is little doubt that the source of the question had an impact on me. Denying that would be misleading. When a descendant of the founder and an executive of the company asks for your business, it’s hard to not seriously consider it.
  2. More important than the first issue, my decision stemmed from the reality that no one at any level of any lodging company had ever asked me for my business. Consider this. When I talked to David Marriott that day, I had spent hundreds of nights in hotels, perhaps thousands, and no one had asked for my continued business. I truly believe that as much as the source of the request mattered, it could have come from anyone and I would have very likely agreed. Why? I felt valued.
  3. Lastly, if my experience at past Marriott hotels had been poor, I would have failed to comply with the request. I would have likely said, “Yes, I will definitely consider doing that. Thank you for asking.” Then I would have continued my typical practice. The point is that asking is key, but without a quality product or service, you will likely not garner a committed customer.

This weekend, I looked at my Marriott account. Since the encounter with David Marriott, I have spent over 770 nights at Marriott hotels and earned more than 2.1 million Marriott Rewards Points. I’ve stayed in Marriott hotels all over the world from Singapore to Canada and Denmark to Aruba. I’m a very loyal customer.

This week I’m staying at a Marriott Courtyard in Colorado Springs. Last week, I stayed at one in Washington, DC. I will spend at least 50 nights in their hotels in this year.

Fred Reichheld, the creator of the Net Promoter Score (NPS) and author of numerous customer loyalty books, contends that loyal customers exhibit four consistent behaviors. When it comes to Marriott, I deliver on all four of Reichheld’s predictions:

  1. I return again and again.
  2. I buy more.
  3. I encourage others to do the same.
  4. I give feedback to help Marriott improve.

Think about this. My behavior stemmed from one simple question:

Would you be willing to give us all or at least most of your business?

Here’s my question for you. How often do you and your employees ask this simple, yet important question?

True every potential customer will not jump on board, but even a small conversion rate could have a big impact on the success of your organization. Give it a try. You might be thrilled with the results!

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