Reasonable Expectations For Hotel Chat Service?

Filed Under: Hotels, Marriott

Generally if I’m staying at a hotel and need something, I’ll just pick up the phone and dial zero (whether I want to ask about late check-out, need more towels, etc.). In general I hate getting on the phone, but it gets the job done quickly.

I guess I’m old fashioned, because this weekend I tried something for the first time. I was staying at the W Aspen (stay tuned, I have so many thoughts on this place), and I decided to try the chat feature in the Marriott app.

Specifically, when you’re staying at a hotel and go onto the Marriott app, there’s an option to chat directly with the hotel. It’s basically an integrated texting service, so I figured I’d give it a try.

My hope was that this would be a good replacement for picking up the phone and calling. It’s not like picking up the phone and making a quick call is a great inconvenience, but it seems like it could be a win-win to be able to text, as it seems more efficient all around.

That brings me to my question, since I was a Marriott chat virgin prior to this — what are reasonable expectations? Because it consistently took the hotel longer than I would have liked to respond. Based on that, I’m not sure if it’s working as planned, and this just isn’t for me, or if the hotel wasn’t handling it properly.

For example, we were at a bar (which isn’t nearly as scandalous as the name suggests) and wanted to get the hotel car back to the hotel (they have a complimentary service around town). Since the bar was loud and it was about 10 degrees outside, this seemed like a great opportunity to use chat.

But then all I got for 15 minutes was automated replies. At that point we gave up and just walked back to the hotel, because we didn’t know if the service was actually attended. Eventually they did respond, but it was too late at that point.

I then used the texting service a couple of mornings later to ask about the possibility of late check-out. I sent a message, once again only got the automated reply, and then about 15 minutes later went to the front desk to just ask, since we needed to plan our day.

They ended up still responding by chat, but only 48 minutes later.

Bottom Line

This isn’t intended as a complaint, but rather I’m just sharing my first experience using Marriott’s hotel chat. I’d love to hear from you guys as to whether this is par for the course, or if hotels are supposed to be much more responsive?

The concept of an integrated chat with the hotel directly in the app is awesome, but the response time needs to be consistently fast for it to make sense. I’m not sure if that’s asking too much, because you’d think the person working the phones could also be working this, so that response times would be similar.

I’m curious what you guys have experienced — Do you use the Marriott hotel chat feature? How fast have you found the service to be? Can anyone who works at a Marriott share how this is supposed to be handled?

  1. Apparently Hilton app does have this feature too. It’s a nod better.

    I tried to fiddle around with the message hotel function, when I stayed in DoubleTree in Jakarta, Indonesia. They do respond pretty quickly, however, sometimes the answers weren’t very clear to me,

  2. As I understand it, it’s just the front desk associates replying to you on the chat.

    It’s not great for time-sensitive stuff, but fantastic for asking for — and insisting on — suite upgrades as an elite member in advance of your stay.

  3. I tried it several times… all took far too long ( 15 minutes at least). I no longer bother trying…maybe that’s what Marriott wants; I got the impression the chat was manned by Front Desk staff ( if so, it must make their lives quite difficult at peak times).

  4. That does seem slow. I use the messaging feature whenever it’s available given I have horrible luck with hotel phone lines (bad connections, calls dropping, fuzzy lines, some hotels with flat out poor service in regards to answering)

    Hilton Bankside has had reasonable response times

  5. Very hit or miss in my experience. All depends on the hotel. I’ve been able to use the chat feature to request certain room types, get concierge recommendations, organize transport, request late check out, etc. At some hotels, though, I’ve gotten no response.

  6. I’ve made a similar experience with Accor’s chatbot last week. We asked them for late checkout on Saturday evening and got a reply from the hotel on Sunday afternoon — after we have already left the hotel. Maybe hotel chains need more time to integrate these “live chats”. As for now, F2F might work better.

  7. Some Marriott hotels reach out to me before I arrive to ask about when I will be checking in, if I need transport, etc. Other hotels are slow to reply, as you mention in the post. So, putting it together, I would say it’s totally property specific. Sounds like W Aspen isn’t making the grade.

  8. If you don’t complain they won’t do anything to fix it. They offered you a service (direct hotel texting), you spent your time trying to use it, they were so late responding that the service wasn’t useful to you. In other words, they wasted your time. Complain,

  9. I currently run a bank for a living, and 15 years ago used to run car dealerships. Both industries are big on both chat and customer satisfaction surveys.

    Those surveys have shown that the consumer absolutely expects an immediate (instant) reply to a chat service when a website or app had a “chat now” feature. If there isn’t someone manning the station for immediate reply, they should disable the icon until there is. Might as well just send an email for as quick as the replies come back from Marriott.

  10. We’ve used this at a couple different Four Seasons properties and had great luck – super fast responses. I hate talking on the phone, so this has been great for me!

  11. As others have said, depends on the property. The Delta Toronto was great about handling housekeeping-related requests this way. Was just at the Excelsior Gallia Milan & was able to book a spa treatment while I was on subway heading back to hotel after long day of walking, which was great. Other requests were a bit slower to get response.

  12. This is hotel dependent. I’ve been using this feature extensively and it really depends on the hotel.

    Someone up thread said the Hilton experience is better. In my experience it isn’t, my texts weren’t even replied to, but then again I only used it at one property – and this reinforces my view that it really is property related.

    The Four Seasons app also has this and their service is nothing short of flawless.

  13. I used this feature recently at a Hilton stay. I needed to know the schedule of a shuttle bus while I was at a park and they replied within 5 minutes with all of the information I needed. I was very impressed with the service the hotel provided. This hotel was already using texts to stay in touch so it was already part of their workflow. I don’t expect other hotels to be as responsive but it was a convenient service that made me all the more likely to go back to this particular property.

  14. It is a good feature, overall. I think that with anything, you need to have some patience. If it is something you want done quickly, it is better to call or just go straight to the front desk. If you know you want something done at a certain time, you can message them earlier.

    I used this feature at the Charter Hotel in Seattle and they were actually very friendly on the chat function. Sometimes, they responded within a few minutes and other times it took 30 to 45 minutes. I learned to message them earlier.

    On the other hand, the Best Western Premier Herald Square at NYC also had a built in function on the app or on the website where you can request for amenities. Around 45 minutes later, I got a call in my room regarding my request. Within ten minutes, it was sent up and they gave you extra amenities as well.

  15. Hotel dependent. I stayed at a property in the US.. I think it was a Hilton but I don’t remember. They just texted me and I could text back. It was staffed by front desk staff. I got a quick reply every time and they were happy to answer my obscure questions like if the exercise room has towels available.

  16. It is what it is… I would say for now calling the front desk is still the most efficient way of requesting service. Unless hotels are required to put more staff on responding to chat, I don’t see it become any handier soon.

  17. I would never use it for a time-sensitive issue since obviously calling would be more responsive, but I’ve had good luck with it for things like contacting the hotel a day in advance of arrival with special requests which would previously have required a phone call.

  18. use it often. depends on the hotel. It’s either very fast or not working at all. The towel request via app works most of time.

  19. The real added value is that you have a written confirmation of the agreement. It happens often that staff member A says yes, staff member B wasn’t informed and staff member C gives a whole new interpretation to the situation, which is not something you’d want in case of an airport pick up in the middle of the night. I sometimes use such chat services of hotel booking websites to arrange a drive from the airport or so, or to assure early check in is ok. It’s good to have it in written form, especially with people who you may not expect to be fluent in English. Otherwise, I just deal with certain ‘minor’ things directly at the property. Somehow it’s much easier and faster when talking face-to-face with someone.

    Apart from that, why oh why do we have to avoid normal human interaction more and more? What’s wrong with just talking with each other, face to face? I also find that so intriguing, seeing a group of people having dinner ‘together’, where everyone is just staring at their cell phones all the time, like a bunch of brain dead zombies. How cozy is that! Why not just put the machines away and have a fun time with those you meet up with? Are other humans so scary? Or is your fake insta world so much more important to you?

  20. I’ve used it a few times and typically the response times are in line with how you describe. I got the feeling once (and this would have been just a few months after the feature rolled out, maybe a year ago) that the texting is sometimes manned by some Marriott back office center. I requested to have another name put on the reservation and they replied back maybe 45 minutes later that this was taken care of, and then when my friend showed up, they never received that info. The clerk then said that sometimes “they” don’t communicate that stuff to us. More recent instances, it seemed maybe the individual hotel handled the particular request. Either way, I would only use it for things that are not time sensitive.

  21. Data Point:
    I can confirm that front desk handles the chat (at least during late hours). The response time is when the front desk is free. In my case, I let the property know I’m arriving late and don’t give my upgraded room away. Took them 20+ mins to reply. When I arrive, the front desk told me I was indeed chatting with him.

    IMHO, this compliments calling as that is 1 to 1 conversation while chat can be handled on many to 1. I remember countless times I had to hold for front desk, often 5+ mins. I can save time being on hold.

    At least having humans reply is much better than AI pretending to be humans.

  22. I find chat only useful for multi tasking. In almost every scenario (Amex, banks, shopping) it’s faster to call, you just can’t also be working.

  23. Not exactly the same, but I have had a few Hyatts recently give me the option to text the front desk for any requests. In each instance, it has worked almost immediately. I needed a steamer at the Hyatt Regency Green Bay this weekend. They responded to the text immediately and had the steamer to my room 3 minutes later. I used it at another Hyatt for a late checkout and got a response within a minute. I used it at a third Hyatt to summon the airport shuttle. The response time there was a few minutes. The shuttle was not running at that time of day, but the hotel called a cab for me and even paid for it. It may be that the response time was longer because they were calling the cab as by the time they responded they said a cab was on the way to meet me at the lobby entrance in 10 minutes. Then again, I find Hyatt’s customer service to be a notch above Marriott and Hilton, so this may just be another example of that.

  24. The only hotel where I’ve used any sort of texting service is the EMC2 in Chicago, and there they specifically give you a number to text at check-in so it’s not through the app. The response was generally pretty quick.

    Honestly, I didn’t even know you could message through the app generally. I’ll stick to the phone for now.

  25. I must say I use the Four Seasons chat function on the app all the time and have had nothing but prompt replies. My requests are all over the place and it always gets quick action; “Can I get a bucket of ice in my room I am on the way back to the hotel;” or, “I forgot to turn my DND sign off, but you can tell housekeeping its okay to go in the room”. Credit to FS, I find they implement it consistently across all of the properties I have stayed in.

    I cannot say the same thing about the Marriott app, where the experience is inconsistent at best. More often than not my experience is like Lucky’s above.

    It can be such a great way to communicate with the hotel so I hope more hotels get serious about it.

  26. Having chat allowed me to ensure my room was held for late arrival while at 39,000 ft and couldn’t call. Definitely a great feature to have available.

    That being said, it’s handled by the front desk so response times can be mixed. Normally I don’t ask about anything time sensitive but usually receive a reply within 15-30 minutes which is acceptable for what I use it for.

  27. Really depends on the property. I’ve only used it for non urgent stuff like requesting toiletry.

    Most recently I used it to request mouth wash at Marriott Berlin. I was shocked to get a door knock literally two mins later with my mouth wash. Very impressed.

  28. I second @ AngeT’s remarks, I have used the Four Seasons chat feature at several of their properties and it has been flawless. They have responded quickly and efficiently.

  29. I tried to request an upgrade when I visited Singapore for a few days. This eliminates the awkwardness of requesting it during checkin. I received a response that upgrade request can be done during checkin. When I arrived at the hotel after midnight, i was surprised that they confirmed my request and was given a 1 bedroom suite that has an even bigger living room.

    I also experienced complaining about having a room with dirty windows using Hilton app and received a dall within 30 mins.

  30. I agree that Four Seasons are the best at this. The response from them in almost instant or very shortly after.

  31. The W Boston was very proactive in using this feature to reach out to me ahead of a stay, confirm my room upgrade, and alert me when my room was ready while I was in meetings.

    However, that is the only property where I have seen this used to its full potential. I’ve given up on using it unless the hotel reaches out to me first. Dialing ‘0’ still works as intended.

  32. I’ve used chat with a variety of companies online but they clearly are multi-tasking and it is painful waiting for responses. I’m guessing hotels are doing the same thing, the employees responding are doing other jobs as well.

  33. Echoing posters before me; of the major chains I stay at, only Four Seasons seem to know how a live chat function should work.

  34. Chat has its useses. I would still always call if I want something immediately, but I was able to cancel a non refundable hotel room via chat while mid flight, so its not completely useless.

  35. Another vote here for the Four Seasons. The chat function, like just everything else they do, is done very well. But comparing Four Seasons to anything Marriott, even Ritz Carlton and St. Regis, is not particularly apt. They’re not even in the same league.

  36. Marriott’s chat response time varies from hotel to hotel. Generally speaking, higher-end hotels and hotels in asia-pacific respond faster. In my experience, hotels in China and Japan usually respond in seconds.

  37. I especially like the chat feature when traveling internationally in a country where English isn’t the first language.

    Legacy Marriott properties, especially full-service hotels as well as hotels directly managed by Marriott, are best. Sometimes within a minute. Some Courtyard and Fairfield properties are also great but limited-service properties are very dependent on their general manager.

    Autograph Collection, Tribute Portfolio and Luxury Collection properties tend to be the worst because they really aren’t Marriott properties. Most are either fully independent or branded under a small brand or hotel management company’s own portfolio.

  38. Yet another way for people nowadays to avoid direct contact with anyone else. I don’t even have a cellphone, so I’d just pick up the phone in my room or go speak to the front desk. So far, that’s worked for me, so I’ll stick with it.

  39. Marriott’s chat service is completely useless at best. Hilton seems to send a text message which allows for real and actual communications. I’ve had a few stays at Doubletrees and Hiltons that have sent me a invitation text. After taking the bait I’ve seen that they are rather quick with replies providing an extension to call them at if I wish. Good for Hilton on this front.

    Marriott’s mobile app is a complete waste of time. The whole ‘check in’ gives them the chance to charge your card early. Cannot select the room from the app. Cannot bypass the counter and go straight to the room. Cannot do much of anything really. It’s a waste of time to even launch other than getting a confirmation number.

  40. I have been told by a Marriott Hotel Guest Relations Mgr that Chats have to be answered within a certain period of time,I f they Don’t then That Marriott Hotel gets Find $5000.00 per incident.each Hotel is supposed to have a “Chat Specialist”.

  41. @Mike

    Now if that is true, the best way to police this is by rewarding guest who reports.
    Marriott International gets $5000 customers should get maybe 1000 points per infraction.
    But then the backfire is the stupid automated response, now coming from a real human mimicking AI.

  42. The in app chat results vary wildly depending on the property. I used the chat feature prior to checking in at the Renaissance in Columbus, Ohio. My flight was getting in late and I wanted to make sure my room wasn’t given away. I used the in app chat feature while on the plane. I got a fairly quick response. I was happy. My impression was the concierge staff oversee the text chat at this property. At other locations you are lucky to get a response. This is a perfect example of inconsistency across the Marriott portfolio.

  43. I haven’t tried the Marriott chat. But recently at every Kimpton stay I have received a text soon after check in. This weekend the hotel reached out via text to confirm that a reservation for another family member wasn’t a duplicate for me. And then I was able to request something from a car that had been valeted and it was promptly retrieved. Super impressed.

  44. @cls don’t mean to be insulting but I guess I am. it’s 2019 it’s inconceivable that you can go to school or work etc… without a cell phone. You’re commenting here so you clearly have internet access and a computer. But you’re anti cell phone ? What gives ??

  45. The hiltons I’ve stayed at all encouraged me to use the chat service within the app but they don’t respond until its too late. What’s the point?

  46. With Hilton, some of them will reach out to you from a cell phone they have. Recently 2 weekends ago in Seattle, the concierge at the Charter Hotel reached out to me 24 hours before my arrival to confirm preferences and reservations. Responses were usually very prompt, with the longest time to respond being about 8 minutes.

  47. The Setai in Miami actually had a number to text on their card. I used thrice, and each time received a response almost immediately. More toiletries, slippers, etc, it was delivered within 5 minutes.

  48. Hello! Marriott Associate here,

    Front Desk staff receives a notification on their PMS system just like a mobile check in– then we have to go into a browser service to reply. It’s totally dependent on the Front Desk staff and how busy they are, or if they are paying attention to notifications. We get marked down points for slow respond times in the same area as guest review points, so it’s crucial to respond ASAP. Sometimes there is a case like technology malfunction or someone new doesn’t have access to the portal, but generally, you are required to respond within 10 minutes. At my hotel, when it was first introduced, they made it a very clear point to check for the notifications and be constantly logged into the portal to be able to respond as quickly as possible.

  49. I have found the Hilton service responsive particularly for snagging upgrades and reporting maintenance requests. Tried the Marriott a couple of times and found it less so. Also I have recently seen some Hilton properties post a text message number around the property too.

  50. One big problem is the name: chat.

    It’s messaging, not chat. Chat is typically near real-time, where you can quickly be connected with a live agent and have a back-and-forth conversation.

    In the Bonvoy app, there’s typically a lag of at least 15 minutes and often much longer. That’s okay for requests that aren’t time sensitive, but it absolutely doesn’t work for issues where a quick response is helpful.

    Marriott can definitely do a better job setting clearer expectations and responding in a more predictable time frame.

    One other note: when you reply to an automated message, it’s pretty normal to get another automated message in return.

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