Don't Overlook Your Smallest Guests

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Marriott has partnered with COVERPLAY for a new Tots Travel Too program, which aims to make it easier for families traveling with young children. The news release says the program will provide guests, upon request, with a travel crib and laundered COVERPLAY removable slipcover, as well as a free bath gift (animal squirt toy) and parents can also contact the front desk for complimentary items they may have forgotten, like outlet covers, baby shampoo, oil, etc. The program is for five of Marriott's brands: Courtyard, Fairfield Inn & Suites, SpringHill Suites, Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites.

The release reminds me of my first experience traveling with a baby last summer. And coincidentally, it was to one of the above mentioned brands, a hotel we stayed at on a family trip to North Carolina from Ohio, the first with our 10-month old daughter. A great hotel, somewhat in the middle of nowhere about the half-way point on the drive down, that provided us with a nice crib and everything we wanted. On the way back, though, unfortunately, we arrived after a long day of driving to find out a crib was not available, despite our request made a week before. The newer hotel only had three cribs, and three guests with more loyalty ranked ahead of us in our request, so we were out of luck. With no crib available, we couldn't stay there, and had to get back in the car and drive another 45 miles to another hotel, while attempting to call ahead to confirm both room and crib availability. Had we known about the policy and that our request was just that, and not any hope of a guarantee, we would have had a better understanding of the situation, but weak customer service and the fact we were never told that policy when making the reservation made it a very upsetting experience.

This year, when we make the same drive to visit the parents and the beach, we're bringing our Pack-n-Play, and maybe not the stroller or golf clubs (I hope not), and probably will avoid the hotel in question, despite it being in a perfect spot and the nicest option available.

Frankly it was something I never thought about before becoming a father and am still a bit confused that hotels can't book their cribs in similar fashion to beds, at least giving guests an idea of whether they'll be available or not. First come, first serve or by loyalty overlooks the problem that many parents aren't going to consider putting an infant on the floor or in a bed and will likely leave disappointed. Compound a policy like that with less than good customer service, and you may lose a customer for good. Hopefully Marriott's new policy helps address some of these issues and maybe that hotel now has more than three cribs and is better prepared to deal with parents and young children.

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