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November 22, 2011

Win Two Free Nights at a Courtyard Marriott!

Airline travelers get a first look at Courtyard Marriott's new lobby concept.

Heading through Houston, Phoenix, or Baltimore/Washington airports this holiday travel season? You might find an out-of-place hotel lobby smack dab in the middle of the concourse. Courtyard by Marriott is debuting a new lobby concept in the airport terminals of these three major hubs, hoping to introduce business travelers to what it sees as the future of the hotel lobby.

As we've reported recently, there are big changes underway in the public spaces at Courtyard by Marriott hotels nationwide. First, it has overhauled its food and beverage offerings. Now, Courtyard by Marriott is hoping to create a communal and helpful atmosphere for travelers by way of its lobbies. The idea is to allow guests to stay "connected, productive, and balanced." But the concept goes beyond WiFi hotspots. "Media pods" allow guests to hold mini meetings with up to three other people. Communal tables are designed to entice business travelers to enjoy a glass of wine while checking their email at happy hour, and to meet other guests also in town on business. Interactive television screens called GoBoards, developed by Courtyard and FourWinds Interactive, let users send directions to their smartphones or check flight information before heading to the airport.

“We are thrilled to present this new technology to our guests,” said Janis Milham, vice president and global brand manager for Courtyard by Marriott. In fact, the company is so excited to show off the new spaces, it's giving away two free nights in a Courtyard by Marriott to one lucky reader. All you have to do is answer one simple question:

What is your least favorite part about business travel?

Simply post a comment in the Comments section of this blog post answering that question. We'll pick the most useful comment, and that reader will get a free two-night stay at a Courtyard by Marriott anywhere in the continental U.S. Restrictions apply. Click here for terms and conditions.

For a list of properties with the new lobby, check here. Courtyard Marriott is also providing a free stay to to check out the new lobbies.

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Related Topics: Free Stuff · Travel Trends · US Travel


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You are always expected to be connected to what is going on even though you are traveling, makes it difficult to keep a balance between the fatigue of traveling and keeping up with work.

And we have a winner! Congratulations to Jada! You've won two free nights in a Courtyard Marriott of your choice. We'll be in touch with the details. Thanks to everyone for the great comments. Stay tuned for more contests and giveaways coming soon!

The very worst part of travel is the unknown quality of your hotel upon arrival....Marriotts are always clean, comfortable, welcoming-the 3 most important points in my opinion. We always try to stay at Marriotts when available, for this very reason....

Breakfast, eating alone, and the shuttle service. Loud doors, loud air conditioners, loud ice machines. Why not deliver breakfast like a cruise ship does. Why not have party floors and quiet floors. Always have local dinning information and transportation available. A friendly driver is the key to having a good trip and a bad trip. Locale shopping available, a mall is always a good option for dinner. Have it posted so you can sign up a two hour drop off is great you could do dinner or shop or both..I have had the same driver on a few trips and I can tell you that after the airport it's like having a family member pick you up when you see the same driver and they remember you...

The ever-changing airport security requirements can be challenging. Often, even if you just completed a trip, you don't know 100% what to expect on your next voyage through airport security. Can I have bottled water? Do I still have to have my stuff in a ziplock bag? I find it handy to check the TSA's website for the latest, prior to departing for the airport.

So many things, but not being with my family is the worst. Putting up with the shoddy air travel that exists today is a close second.

In a few words - Airport check in .......

Air travel has become a contact sport involving speed, (the two minute "unpack" getting through airport security), agility (cramming a roller bag into overhead compartment), and cunning (rebooking cancelled flights--remember last winter).

I long for the old days when air travel was social, pleasant, and more of an adventure.

Returning to my room after a long day of meetings to find my bill slipped under my door , and seeing the charges are wrong. Upon calling the front desk, I am told managers are off until tomorrow. My plane is always a early one (before the AM manager is there) so I must now deal with the situation over the phone.....after I check out.
This has happened to me a few times and always drives me crazy!

Two words: continental breakfast.

Sitting on an airplane, having wifi helps, but otherwise it is generally wasted time....

Not having..."My Head in My Own Bed"!

I hate delays!!

The worst is being on an 8 to 12 hour flight in coach on a full plane.

rarely get a good night sleep on account of noise in hallways, other rooms. Some locations have thin walls.

When there's no wifi...I don't want to have to be tethered to the desk if I need to get online.

For me business travel is much like the time I spent in the military. I remember always thinking how great it would be to come back and see the sights without a pack and rifle. Semper Fi, Mac

The least thing I likeed about travel:
Is that the beds are always like sleeping on
a cement slab.and the towls and washclothes
are hard like rocks.

The least favortie part of business travel is not being able to do those "home" items often. Examples are appointments, home improvements, cook, etc.

Lack of local info is a real problem. When I traveled for my last position (a LOT), I often found myself in unknown parts, that I could generally familiarize myself with via internet, etc. However, not knowing specifics (the REALLY great eateries, best sites to see, especially on short notice and local) was painful.

Family and friends always thought traveling for work was glamorous, exciting, etc. I always thought that I missed a ton of opportunities to see and experience wonderful things...since I simply didn't always know about them.

A simple "things to do and see" list on a hotel's website, with honest reviews by locals would have been a great tool. Especially if they were broken out by "places to walk to", or drive to within "X" minutes.

Not all facilities have concierge folks or very knowledgeable ones...thanks for asking.

In order, most annoying to least:
1. The potential that there are bedbugs in the room.
2. The prospect that the linens, including the bed covering, and the carpet in the room are not kept clean and have not been properly laundered, both over time, and since the last guest.
3. The toilet, shower, or sink not working properly, particularly if I discover this after being out at a late meeting or dinner before coming to the hotel.
4. The air or heat cycling on or off and being alternatively LOUD or silent - wakes you up every time.
5. Airport delays, cancelled flights, missed connections.
6. No free wi-fi, in the room or in the airport.

I agree with the above.... eating alone and having to not have someone to explore a new city with!

Missing the family and the smiles and hugs and kisses.

Besides getting through airport security, the worse part of business travel is not having time to explore the city you are visiting. After traveling several hours to some beautiful or interesting city you've never been too, it's disappointing to find that all you have time to see is the inside of some conference room.

The initial trip to the airport!

The worst part is having to rush to and hopefully through the rental car return, shuttle to the airport and through security because your meeting ran over 20 minutes and you're hoping not to miss your flight.

Finding out the concierge is too busy or not around when I want information about the area. Yelp and TripAdvisor are not trustworthy in their reviews, based on following what other said was a "great restaurant," only to find out that greeezy must be a flavor to that member.

Give me some history as to why I should visit a place or business. No character or reason, then don't tell me to go. And no, I don't care if you get a referral fee. Put my few precious moments on this earth as being more important than the $5 you make from signing me up for...whatever. You will make more with a tip when I get back, plus I will refer other travelers to your hotel and to you, specifically. In other words, make the hotel promote in all of its literature a non-referral fee relationship the concierge has with the business it promotes.

Funny how Marriott is making their lobby's more people friendly in a world that is not people, but technology, friendly. I guess when people were friendly, say 20 years ago, a friendly lobby wouldn't have worked. Damn, the irony of it all.

With people being overweight/obese, smaller portions are now the preferred option. People in poor nations that barely have anything to eat is what we are supposed to be emulating. I think God has a "Mr. Irony" bumper sticker on the back of his SUV.

The Marriott should hire me as a consultant before I start my own hotel chain.

There are several components that tie into the concept that Marriott is trying to address. I think most business people hate the food, business offerings and room noises. First is the food and the availibility - One of the worst things is being away from your routine and trying to find food that fits your needs/taste. I think having a variety of foods or fruits at intervals during the day (and night) would be great! The second part- I would love to be able to have a place (out of the crowd) to conduct business over the phone. I hate trying to understand what people are saying over the phone but can't hear over background noise, but I don't want to waste a conference room.
The last part, is my room. When I want to get some rest, I hate that other room noises and bar noises (that typically spill outside and up to lower rooms) keep me awake and off schedule.

The lack of healthy food and beverage options is my least favorite thing regarding business travel. Bacon, sausage, and eggs tend to lead the breakfast menu, burgers and fries on lunch menu, and steak and potatoes on the dinner menus. It would be great to see healthy options with some local flair depending on the hotels location.

My least favorite part about business travel is the loud crashing of doors early in the morning. The hotel doors slam so loud, typically starting around 5:30 a.m., that I cannot get a restful sleep. Who needs an alarm clock when the neighbors door wakes you up! I wish there was a way the hotel industry could fix the loud closing door issue.

Scrambling to the hotel to drop off luggage (especially if I must do so before check-in time) before clearing my head, planning for the meeting, and getting to that location..

While evening happy hours hosted by some hotels are a good idea, there is little attempt made to introduce guests to one another. Why not have a sign-up area where guests can input their information to see if other guests would be interested in meeting up? This can be done on the hotel's computer and needs to be secure against hackers. I would like to meet other guests who share similar interests, such as playing chess, attending musical concerts, and eating ethnic foods.

Maybe these hotel lobbies at the airports can do check-in as well. It would be nice to get your room key and just walk in to your hotel room without waiting at the hotel. Also, I find the "possibble incidental charges" at nice hotels as distrustful. Not a good business strategy, I think. I agree with other posts that dining is very limited at most hotels and getting around in a new city is often problematic.

The worst thing? It's when the people hosting your meeting forget that what to them is just a ten-minute overrun on a meeting to you means a missed train, knocking into a missed connection, and an extra night away from home.

Getting on the flight is easy. You are treated like royalty; priority check in, whisk through immigration and checks. However, getting off the flight is a whole different ball game. You are treated as just another and at times although you have a priority tag on your checked-in luggage, it takes a considerable amount of time for it to appear on the belt. Not to mention exiting airports as well.

My least favorite thing about traveling for business is never having enough time to explore the actual location. It is frustrating at times to try to see the local attractions by coordinate transportation and all the logistics that come into play. It would be ideal if hotels would promote these services. The only time I have actually enjoyed a business trip was when I was able to do a little sight seeing. This only occurred because the driver of the airport shuttle service just asked if I had planned to sight see while I was in the area. After talking, he and the concierge desk at the hotel was able to scrap together transportation, hours of business and an itinerary.

Few options of finding eatries outside the hotel and eating alone. Shopping and sightseeing difficult especially in northern areas during winter months, when not renting a car.

Laying over in airports due to weather/mechanical issues thus causing me to miss my connecting flights. Talk about miserable.

No Bueno!!!

I think the worst part of business travel is the logistics of getting places like restaurants or out to enjoy some sites when you have some free time. If you don't rent a car, this is very difficult. Sometimes even if you rent a car, it is unpleasant because you have to get directions, find your way in an unknown place, and deal with parking. The hotel will sometimes be able to call you a cab, but they are often very expensive outside of a few major cities. My two suggestions to address this are: a) have the airport shuttle that lots of hotels run also do a loop a few times a day to major strips of restaurants/shopping and popular sites and b) have the hotel run it's own car service with a car or a few cars (depending on demand) so you don't have to worry about cabs or waiting for the airport shuttle to take you places. I think travelers would love this service and would choose a hotel that offered these kinds of services over a hotel that didn't.

My least favorite part about business travel is the lack of food options available. Sometimes I don't rent a car when I travel so I'm stuck eating at the hotel and options can be minimal.

I do not like the hustle and bustle in the airports in an effort to get to the gate in time for a connecting flight only to find out that it has been cancelled.

I miss home-cooking when I'm traveling for business. Eating out or taking out all the time gets very old, very quickly! Wish I could have my kitchen travel along with me so I could whip up a delicious, healthy meal in my hotel room every evening!

That would be the heading home part.
Business is typically the one type of travel where I don't need to worry about scheduling activities for the little ones and reading article upon article finding resturants that are kid friendly.

When (and If) I come back to the hotel I can peacefully catch a 70s movie on the public channels and go to sleep watching it.

So long as it is not a day trip, I'd say the going back home part it is.

I always hated eating alone!


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