The Residence Inn, Starbucks, McDonald’s

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This was the longest stay for me and my family at a hotel.  For 15 nights, 16 days, we stayed at the Residence Inn in Campbell, California.  In the past, for this length of stay away from home, I would seek out short term rental of a furnished apartment, but taking past lessons about business/vacation into consideration, I chose the Residence Inn, and it turned out to be a pleasant stay, bargain for the quality.

Many larger companies ask it’s employees to stay at the hotel they have contract with for business travels, but when  I used to work for a large global company, most of the time, I was not restricted.  This meant that I didn’t accumulate points or anything that would steer me to Marriott group hotel.   I’ve stumbled onto the Marriott Residence Inn during one of my business trips, which I can’t even remember where it was in the US years ago.  I was delighted with their breakfast buffet that included oatmeal, fully equipped kitchen that allowed me to eat right, and good laundromat that allowed me to pack lightly for the trip.  Often I would stay at a room with fireplace which was something special I enjoyed very much.  Service has been friendly and good at all the locations I stayed, and for the quality, the price has always been very competitive.

No one is paying me to write this.  The people at the residence deserve praise from me, their happy customer.

Cases like Marriott Residence Inn in the US, McDonald’s and Starbucks in Japan fascinates me.  How do they consistently keep up with hiring the right people, training them, keep updated by choosing the right upgrades and drop offs for the customers?  I haven’t experienced the very noticeable  interiors design change at Marriott Residence Inn in the US or Starbucks in Japan.  I like them and feel comfortable in them.  But with McDonald’s in Tokyo area, I have experienced major change in looks and feel twice over the past 20 years.  It must have been considerable investment in making those changes.  I’ve enjoyed the many changes at the McDonald’s, both in interiors design and menu.  It’s fascinating that the single order price kept on going up at the McDonald’s in Tokyo area over the past few years even though they still offer the same, good ol’ basic hamburgers and fries at low prices.   The clientele has been shifting to classy looking older generation.  It’s obvious that they target the largest age demographics, but any fool can identify the outcome which is the McDonald’s success in capturing the target audience.  What business people should care about is, who is leading the organization, what makes people want to follow this leader and make the meaningful change and be consistent in their performance that result in sustainable business?

My two teenage sons and I loved the daily fresh baked chocolate chip cookies in the afternoon at the Residence Inn.  We enjoyed the evening  social hour from Monday through Thursday with good food and friendly environment.  On the other hand, I’ve been noticing that the variety of breakfast selection does not change day to day as they did 2 years ago.  Of course things will not be exactly the same at each location, but things like that makes a customer wonder, is it the economy?  Is the Residence Inn making money, or not?

And that is where value of ethnography and monitoring the financial data carefully come in.  At what point do customers start to move away?   What kind of change?  What combination of change?   I noticed the change in breakfast buffet food line up.  I also felt uncomfortable about all the plastic cups and plates.  I was very satisfied with these two weeks, and the Residence Inn would be the first choice for me for my next trip to the US.  But I will always check out their competitors, just in case they’ve made enough changes for me to try them out.  If it’s one of long trusted hotel brands, I’ll try them.  As they say, if you are not getting better, you are getting worse.

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