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July 27, 2006


Tom Asacker

Great insights Jon. Indeed, the customer of today wants to see behind the curtain and understand the marketing decisions. Smart marketers will appeal to that curiosity.

P.S. Long time. ;)




Tom, well said! You captured the essence of my post in a few perfect words!

Yeah, way too long!

Take care,


Christopher grove

Speaking as a non-smoker (except for the odd ciagar or two), I do agree with you.
Italy has banned smoking in public places. France may well go that way in practice (officially I think it's already the case, but it isn't upheld that often) and smoking is now banned in pubs (/bars) in the UK and Eire. Add to that, the fact that cigarette packet prices have been raised n France in order to reduce the number of smokers, and the number of smokers in the UK has declined over the years, and I doubt that the UK is an exception.
So maybe the Mariott chain doesn't have a specific percentage in mind, just an overall trend?

That said:
1 I agree that you are not receiving any form of good service in this case, and let's not forget that the Mariott chain is in a service industry...
2 My personal opinion is that smokers' areas is the way forward. At the end of the day, I don't believe in dictating that nobody should be allowed to smoke anywhere; it's just not a reasonable idea. After that people will decide where they want to eat/drink, etc.
3 Do you think that you're an exception/in the minority in your age group, as a smoker? I wonder how many good & regular customers thay're not taking into account?
4 Have you looked to see what the other chains are doing in this regard?

Jon Strande

Chris, great comment (as usual)!! A couple of things: the price of cigarettes has risen in the states as well, and some have claimed that it is to discourage smoking... I don't buy that for a minute. Sure, some people will quit due to the high prices, but the raise in prices is really an additional cost incurred by smokers to help the tax base. I don't know what the actual percentage is, but I'd be willing to bet that smokes are probably the most taxed item in America.

As for your items:

1.) Yeah, great point! They are in the service business!

2.) It looks like you're righ - smokers will be confined to tiny little rooms or out on the street

3.) Great question - I'm not sure how many people smoke. It seems to me that I see less and less all the time. But then again, I'm not really going out that much; home and work and the smoking population in my home is 100% (2 for 2). LOL!

4.) No, I haven't looked. Good point. In a way I don't care what they're doing... well, now I do because I'll probably change who I stay with.

Christopher grove

just with regards to my point on smoker's areas; I'm not suggesting that they have to be (or even should be) tiny litle rooms. Why can't hotels have a smokers' bar that's as good a bar as the non-smokers' bar? After all, lots of people smoke while they drink. Same for the restaurants.
Ok, that would cost hotels a bit more, but maybe it would bring in the niche market. Now, maybe that niche market would be more interesting than they think: how many smokers would be prepared to change hotels just to be able to smoke in the bar/restaurant? I can't think of one person I know who's told me about one chain of hotels where the service was amazing, or that they really heartily recommended to me above all other chains. I suspect that I'm not alone. What does that mean? Simply that I suspect that a LOT of people would be perfectly willing to change hotels if they knew that they would get some better service (better service for them, that is). Now what is the disposable income of the people in the niche market? Remember that 'no smoking' applies to cigars as well as cigarettes, and cigars are a luxury item. Or, what are the chances that the smokers staying in these hotels have work expense accounts that they're willing and able to use? Finally, why don't the hotels want to try and lure this money through their doors, instead of driving it away? Great business plan there...

Now, as a no smoker it's true that there are some bars where the cigarette smoke is VERY disagreeable, but there are also bars where it doesn't pose me a problem at all. However, that doesn't give me the right to impose a complete no smoking rule on everyone regardless. What it means for the hotel is that there are now two markets and either:
1: they really want to provide a good service for their clients that will REALLY differentiate them for their competitors and will be appreciated by the customers
2: or they want to cut costs, cut corners and try to hide their promise of good service with letters to customers stating the opposite.

Just for the record, I felt that the letter you received was just like (junk mail) advertising.
Oh, and I agree with your point about taxing tobacco being a way of conveniently getting more tax money and not a means to reduce the number of smokers.

PS: good to see you back Jon; hope you're well!


Chris, my "tiny room" comment comes from sitting in some little fish-bowl type rooms at airports - like animals in a zoo on display for other to stare at.

Yeah, great point about cigars being tobacco AND a luxury item... which would be excluded at the Marriott.

My choice for Marriott was sort of made for me when I started traveling more a couple of years back - my bosses assistant booked us there and I signed up for the loyalty program. I continued to stay there because it is a consistent experience and Marriott is EVERYWHERE. I figured that if I was going to be traveling, why not stay at nice place and earn some rewards in the process? I could switch tomorrow and it wouldn't make a bit of difference to me... other than losing the upgraded status that I've now earned.

Thank you for the follow up comment!

Good to be back, for now. Hopefully I'll get back in the swing of writing regularly.


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