10/23/2012 07:31 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

A Tale Of Two Guests

This is a tale of two guests. Larry Krebs lives in one of our China hotels about six months out of the year. Joy Bricker actually lived in a hotel in Falls Church, Virginia, for ten years. It was her home.


What they both have in common is tremendous customer loyalty. First, I'll let Larry tell you his love story. He gave me permission to share his letter and photographs. To set it up, Larry mentioned to the staff of the Renaissance Suzhou Hotel that he was bringing his wife to China for their 23rd wedding anniversary. Here's what Larry had to say:

"What the staff did goes far above normal customer service and gave us a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we will never forget. We were invited to dinner in the Presidential suite. Upon arriving at the suite, we were greeted with poppers and confetti and warm congratulations from several of the staff. After entering the suite, we were surprised by the entire management staff and presented with a signed anniversary card and an incredible bouquet of flowers. On the coffee table in front of us was a large arrangement of roses in the shape of the number 23 surrounded by rose petals. Love songs were playing on the stereo. After some conversation, we were led to the dining room of the suite where the word 'LOVE' was spelled out with candles and a chilled bottle of Champagne waited. The meal had been prepared by the head chef and the menus were folded in the shape of hearts. We were served dinner by our own wait staff who catered to our every need. After dinner we were treated to cheesecake with 'Happy 23rd Anniversary' on it. We were also informed we had the suite for the night and to enjoy ourselves. Looking around the suite, we found more rose petals in the shape of a heart formed on the master bed. In the Jacuzzi tub were more rose petals and candles lit and waiting for a romantic evening ahead. Truly a once in a lifetime experience for us both."

Now that's a memorable experience.

My second tale is an update on Joy Bricker our hotel guest of ten years. A year ago, Joy checked out of the TownePlace Suites by Marriott in Falls Church, Virginia. She moved to upstate New York to be with her daughter who lives on a farm. As she was packing up, her 10-year extended stay story caught the attention of CNN, The Washington Post and many other media; it went viral.

A few weeks ago, Joy's daughter, Christy, contacted the Post and told them that her mother passed away at the age of 80. But there was more to the story. Here's an excerpt from the newspaper:

"Joy stuck it out for five months in Christy's rented farmhouse, where the residents included two parakeets, a dog, a miniature horse and a quarter horse -- but not a lot of people... That was not Joy's way. In May, she returned to the hotel -- to Room 111 (her old room, 202, was occupied) -- and restarted her old life... And as odd as it might have seemed to live in a hotel -- even a suites hotel -- it made sense to Joy. There weren't separate bills for electricity, for gas, for water. 'I wrote that one check, and I knew I was good for that month,' Joy told us last year. Plus, there was a complimentary continental breakfast."

Her daughter tried to stop her from returning to the hotel, but realized how much she enjoyed staying there. Joy was back living at TownePlace Suites only a little over a month before her health forced her to move into an assisted-living facility.

Joy, thank you for checking in one last time. We'll sure miss you.

Customer satisfaction is the key measurement of a hotel. Each hotel has a guest satisfaction survey score known as a GSS. At Marriott, we're constantly trying to improve these numbers, and it's nice to know that we often get it right.

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