Marriott Communicates During Fire Alarm

No one wants to be woken up on vacation for a fire alarm, but the Boulder Marriott staff handled it well. An alarm sounded on Sunday at 6:45 a.m. at the Boulder, CO, Marriott, where I was staying after officiating a friend's wedding the previous night. Guests trotted out in T-shirts and shorts, some carrying all of their wordly belongings; others leaving all behind and hoping for the best.

On our way out, a staff member was standing by, telling us, yes, we really needed to evacuate and showing us the way to the stairwell. (This is a five-story Marriott, and Boulder visitors seemed to be in good shape.)

We stood around for a few minutes, held loved ones, yawned, and watched a teenager pretend-sleep on the ground.

When the alarm stopped, clearly a false one, we were shuttled back in and handed coupons for free Starbucks coffee in the lobby (grande, decaf, non-fat mocha for me). By 9:30, we had this apology letter under the guestroom door (download full-sized letter):

Marriott Apology

In addition to this almost-immediate letter, the hotel's GM sent the following email the next day: 

Dear Valued Guest,

On behalf of our entire staff I want to personally apologize for the disturbance this morning with the fire alarm. The safety and security of our guests is always our #1 priority and we are happy to report all was safe in the building. That being said our next greatest mission is for our guests to enjoy a comfortable and peaceful stay which unfortunately this morning's circumstances made that difficult, we apologize again.

As a sincere gesture of our disappointment we will be crediting your Marriott Rewards account an additional 2,000 Marriott Rewards points. We appreciate your business and loyalty to Marriott. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns. We look forward to the opportunity of being your lodging choice for future visits to the Boulder area.





P: 303 448-6629

Discussion Starters:

  • From this description, what did the Marriott staff do well in this situation? What, if anything, should they have done differently?
  • Assess the apology letter: what works well, and what should most definitely be changed in the future?
  • Assess the email: if you received this letter, how would it make you feel?