University alumna finalist in Marriott Hotels travel contest

BY ELIANA SAKS
NEWS CORRESPONDENT

What if you could walk into a hotel room and instantly be gratified with a fridge and pantry full of your favorite foods transforming an often drear and impersonal hotel stay into one of comfort and relaxation? Thanks to University of Scranton alumna Suzanne Polito, this hypothetical situation could very well become reality.

Marriott Hotels began a contest June 17 for its “Travel Brilliantly” campaign searching for innovative ideas from travelers across the country in order to improve travelers’ experiences. The hotel chain has been revamping their entire approach, focusing on enabling travelers to “travel brilliantly.”

“‘Travel Brilliantly’ celebrates the global travel experience and unexpectedly shifts away from the idea that a hotel is just a hotel. By thinking beyond just the four walls of the hotel, Marriott can form stronger connections to its guests and play a bigger role in travelers’ journeys. ‘Travel Brilliantly’ seeks to reflect the lifestyle of the next generation of traveler who seamlessly blend work and play in a mobile and global world,” said John Wolf, Vice President, Global Brand Public Relations at Marriott Hotels

Polito, graduating class of 1993, submitted an idea to the contest based on her own needs while traveling that she believes others can relate to. If Polito wins the contest, Marriott Hotels will possibly create have an app that allows guests to pre select grocery items that the staff will then stock in the hotel room immediately before the guest’s arrival. Before the implementation, Polito would travel with an expert in the field of her interest to refine the idea. During the trip, Marriott will be capturing footage to later compile into a video on their website TravelBrilliantly.com. There will also be a press release and media coverage that would feature Polito.

Polito created the idea focusing on families with young children. She knows the feeling of arriving in a hotel room exhausted with young children and still needing to go back out to grab dinner. With her new idea, that would no longer be necessary. Everything you need will be waiting for your arrival. Polito was inspired when she and a friend along with their children spent a long weekend at a hotel in New York City. Every night they retired back to their hotel rooms completely exhausted, but especially with the children, they needed to make arrangements for dinner. The closest grocery store was a far walk considering they had to carry heavy bags of groceries, and at that moment Polito voiced the idea to her friend: “What I wouldn’t give to have had groceries delivered to my room upon check in so I wouldn’t have to lug these bags so many blocks.”

Polito studied nursing at The University and graduated with her BSN in 1993. She described her experience as amazing and distinctly remembers touring the campus for the first time and saying “this is it” to her parents. She made lifelong friends that she keeps in touch with to this day and also met her husband at her time at The University. Polito remembers a specific moment that solidified her love for The University when fellow classmate and friend Pete Greybar died tragically and hundreds if not thousands of students attended the funeral over two hours away to express their condolences to the family and grieve as a school.

“We had come together under a tragic circumstance, but it displayed the bond that the students at The U have with one another like nothing I had ever experienced before,” said Polito.

Polito thrived under the compassion and encouragement granted to her by the faculty, specifically Marianne Farrell Ph.D. in the nursing program. She acknowledges her experience at The University as a contributing factor to all aspects of how she lives her life.

“If I had to sum up the three things I gained at the University of Scranton it would be Family, Faith and Friends,” said Polito.

Polito currently lives in North Carolina with her husband Mike, fellow almnus, and their three children Gianna 19, Nicole 17, and Jack 13. The Politos own several organizations including Third Party Reimbursement Solutions LLC, The Reimbursement Alliance Group, the Carolina Vipers and The Athletic Barn LLC.

The final round of the contest will be judged Sep. 30. by Shira Lazar, host and co-founder, “What’s Trending;” Marc Kushner, founder/CEO of Architizer.com; and Matthew Von Ertfelda, Vice President, Creative Strategy ISI (Insight, Strategy & Innovation Team) at Marriott Hotels.

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