I’m a loyal Marriott-er. I love all their hotels, from the Fairfield Inn (usually found in smaller towns along the interstate) to the J.W. Marriott (which is usually found along side a fabulous golf course). I get my points, I get my love, I get a good night’s sleep and am never disappointed. They are extremely consistent.

I’m down in Mississippi this week doing some NPS consulting with a credit union and my client said “I know you’re a Marriott girl, but we just got a spanky new Holiday Inn Express you should try out!” Hmmmmmm….I’m not going to get my Marriott points AND, well, it’s the Holiday Inn. But what the hey – I’ll try it.
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My GPS (I named her Eleanor – and gave her a British accent) told me to “Bear right off the motorway.” And in less than a mile… “You have reached your destination.” Across the street is the requisite Waffle House, and next door a Days Inn. I’m a little nervous. It doesn’t really look like much from the outside.

But as soon as those doors “whooshed” open, I knew I was going to like the Holiday Inn Express in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. It’s elegant. Dark green and chocolate brown furniture, marble floor. Wow. For $89.00 a night!

The room is clean and lovely and the amenities are cute and they even have a giant shower head and that curved shower rod so the shower curtain won’t touch you!

Am I gonna switch my loyalty? Probably not. Why? Because one fancy location hasn’t changed my perception of the brand. It’s the Holiday Inn. It’s where you go when you have lots of kids and you’re taking them to Disneyland from Portland, Oregon and it’s close to the interstate, has a soda machine and a pool.

After my 5th year consulting I kind of turned the snob corner. I don’t want to see errant hairs in the bathroom. I don’t want to be afraid to sit on the bedspread. I want a big bar of soap, and an iron that doesn’t spew goo all over my silk blouse. I want a fitness center with more than a broken treadmill and a Stairmaster. I want the Marriott.

I think a lot credit unions are the Holiday Inn of the financial world. They’re family friendly, a great price, been around for generations, and kind of run down. Occasionally I’ll see a credit union build a fancy new branch (like this HI Express) that looks absolutely nothing like the rest of their branches and I wonder what their plan is? To upgrade the image? Or to just build a fancy new branch. You see, the Holiday Inn runs both – the old and the new. It’s hit or miss. They upgraded their logo in 2007 but haven’t changed it in all of their locations.

The Marriott brands are crazy consistent. Extremely disciplined in their execution.

How about your branches? If your credit union were a hotel chain, which would it be?

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