As a frequent guest of Marriott Hotels and a top-tier member in their rewards program, I book rooms quite often. The hotel has a wonderful iPhone application which allows travelers to check room rates, learn about individual properties, view room descriptions/photos and make reservations.
Unless you have a disability.
Say what? The app works normally for everyone, but if you attempt to reserve a room with accessible features for the mobility impaired, you’ll be out of luck. It won’t work. Check out these images from a dummy booking I attempted this morning:
I searched for a hotel in downtown Atlanta, December 1-2, 2015. The cheapest hotel was the Courtyard Atlanta Downtown. The app allows users to check the room descriptions and select the room type that best meets their needs. These descriptions are accurate and pulled from the information published on Marriott’s primary website.
I finally found a room type that offers wheelchair (mobility) accessible rooms and a roll-in shower. I proceeded to the booking page and indicated that I would like that room with a roll-in shower. Scrolling to the bottom of that window, I clicked “continue” and received the following error:
Invalid Stay Request? If I uncheck the box for the accessible room, I am able to proceed and confirm a reservation. So, despite having used the mobile app to find a hotel, check rates, and find a specific room type that met my needs for accessibility, I was unable to make a booking.
Does this problem extend beyond the iPhone app and onto the website? Let’s check:
Here I am, looking at the same room I had seen on the app. I selected my room and bed type preference, “Mobility Accessible Room, Roll-in Shower,” from the provided drop down menu. Advancing from this step in the app is where my attempt at a booking was hung up last time.
After clicking the “select” button:
Bingo! It goes through, allowing me the opportunity to review and finalize the booking.
To summarize: The Marriott iPhone app can be used by anyone, but an error prevents wheelchair accessible room types with roll-in showers from being reserved in the app. Persons requiring these adapted rooms will be required to book over the phone or on the Marriott desktop website.
Why post here instead of contacting Marriott to report the issue? That is a very good question. This error has been present for over a year and has spanned multiple versions of the iPhone app. I have contacted Marriott via e-mail, telephone and Twitter to report this error multiple times. I am always told that the Mobile app development teams will “take a look.”
It is my hope that by posting this here, Marriott will be encouraged to find a solution and make their app equally accessible to disabled travelers and guests. It is the right thing to do. I will, of course, post an update if (hopefully when) it is fixed.
And hey, Marriott Customer Service team, it wouldn’t hurt to throw some rewards points my way to support my mission of opening the world to the disability community!
Update, May 20, 2015: Marriott reached out to me on Twitter and i was able to speak with Stephanie from the Internet Customer Support Department. She was able to reproduce the error with a colleague at Marriott Corporate and has passed the message on to the app developers. I am supposed to receive an update in the near future. Meanwhile, customers having difficulty with the app can contact Marriott reservations directly at +1 (800) 535-4028. In my conversation with Stephanie I also discovered another issue: In the screenshots posted above, the room type description clearly states that hearing accessible rooms are not available, but still allows one to be requested on the booking page. I noted how this is confusing and should be addressed. We’ll see how Marriott responds.