Hotels Are Practicing “Shrinkflation” And Hoping You Won’t Notice

The hotel industry is practicing “shrinkflation.” That’s like when Doritos cost the same as before, but come in a bag with fewer chips. The price of a bag of Doritos hasn’t gone up, but you get less for your money anyway.

[L]obbies and areas where the general public can see are still mostly spotless. No expense spared there..[but] debris in the hallways that tend to linger longer than before. Not as many people see that stuff, so hotels have cut down the number of times they’re clearing it all away.

Rooms are being cleaned less often and, in many cases, only on request. There are fewer towels in the bathrooms. …They’re charging the same for a room but delivering fewer products and services.

So now you have a word for it when Marriott CEO Anthony Capuano says guests aren’t understanding of hotel owners’ need for profits and that Covid Cuts are permanent.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Capuano is driving Marriott into the ground totally forgetting that it is ‘US” that keep these hotels open. His actions are befuddling in that Marriott was based on customer satisfaction clearly that has been tossed aside in favor of the large equity capital firms that own huge blocks of properties.

    It’s sad that all these years of loyalty means nothing to the CEO of Marriott. It’s my opinion that travelers of today and tomorrow will be more price sensitive than loyalty as in days gone by I know once I burn through my Marriott points that will be how I go about booking. So much for my lifetime Titanium status.

  2. In an era of inflation I’m all for reducing amount in order to keep the price the same. Either price goes up or amount bought for same money goes down. Pick one.

    Frankly I’m not sure why more restaurants don’t simply reduce portion size and keep prices the same. That way they keep the profit margin, the customer pays the same and portions in the US are too large anyway leading to a nation of fat people. Go to other countries and the portion sizes are much smaller. The US should use this inflation cycle to better align themselves with the rest of the world in this regard

  3. WELL SAID Ghostrider5408!
    The CEO of Marriott is nothing but a bean counter and is literally destroying an iconic marquis hotel brand with this short sighted approach. We all understand capitalism and return on investment, but to completely disregard customer service and satisfaction is ridiculous. As a Marriott Bonvoy Platinum, increasingly I will book Hilton and Hyatt before Marriott as a result of this CEO’s callous attitude and business model. Also, people are fed up with Covid being the “go to” excuse for limited services in the service industry!

  4. Not only are they shrinking benefits and service, but also charging top dollar, since the pent-up travel demand is resulting in high occupancy and customers accepting unusually high rates. But this will not last…and at some time they will have to understand that it is us, the customers, who pay the bills. And we are free choose where to put our money.

  5. Are hotels also reducing effective capacity by holding back rooms for sale? Looking at room rates feels like there’s some artificial suppression of supply – either deliberate or due to staffing issues.

  6. @ Gary — Cupano is an idiot. Bill Gates buying Four Seasons is genius. People who pay top dollar to stay in a nice hotel expect competent staff and spotless rooms with lots of towels and the availability of high quality F&B.

  7. There is another financial hit coming as more and more hotel guests are learning that even when they book a hotel directly they are still being charged the built-in travel agent commission of 8-10%. Savvy users are starting to demand the commission refund at check-out. Clearly, consumer laws in many states do not permit charging for a set-aside series of services that are not being provided.

    This amounts to real money in the cruise and escorted tour sectors but for those who book higher-end hotels several times a year, the value of the refund can be significant.

  8. @ Alan — I hope you are being sarcastic, as I’m not sure what Joe Biden has to do with Marriott being run by deceptive management.

  9. @Gene – It’s just a childish troll tactic. Blame the lead politician that you don’t agree with for literally anything that you don’t like. Sure, it’s petulant but that says more about the person leaving the comment than the relevant subject at hand.

  10. Just left the Courtyard Marriott Dupont Circle in DC. The room was small and a bit Spartan, but comfortable nonetheless.

    We were informed at check-in that we had to request room service prior to 8:00 am and couldn’t request it the night before. That’s probably fine for business travelers who are up and going before that time, but for vacationers like us it was too early. As a practical matter, we didn’t need room service during a three-day stay, but if I were staying longer it could be an inconvenience.

  11. Greg,

    Yes, it’s been happening. Sometimes the excuse is “not enough labor/staff available”, but it’s really because some hotels have realized there is more money to be had by trading up to much higher rates/prices with somewhat lower occupancy than going for the highest occupancy level possible with somewhat lower rates.

  12. Went from being a thrilled Platinum for Life at Starwood to being worthless at Bonvoy. So sad.

  13. I have no sympathy for Marriott and their quest for profits. There are plenty of prospective guests who treat lodging as a commodity and will buy the lowest price. There are others, especially amongst active members in loyalty programs, who seek value. There are still customers who value service, and Marriott will lose out on that business over time. They lost my business a few years back after SPG was dismantled. It is Marriott is basically saying they can’t offer the most competitive service and value, period. If you’re looking for service and value, go elsewhere.

  14. When I worked for Chrysler, in the days of Lee Iacocca, Lee said: “ You always want a bean counter to be the #2 guy in the company. Someone has to keep the sales guys honest. You can always buy revenue. We used to lose money on every sale, and try to make it up on volume. It doesn’t work.
    But the CEO always needs to be a sales guy. NEVER make a CEO out of a bean counter, because he’ll save you into bankruptcy.”

  15. This post feels extra whiny to me.
    1) there’s a shortage of people willing to work in lots of sectors, including hospitality. So I imagine many places are understaffed… With less people working, things have to give… How many times are hallways are scanned for trash is def a reasonable thing to decrease.
    And before someone says “pay the staff more and people will want to work there!”. This IS true… But also doesn’t actually fix the problem. Staffing at the same levels as pre covid, while laying everyone $5-10 more per hour, is not possible without raising room rates.

    2) every hotel I’ve stayed at has had plenty of towels…. And it actually makes sense to auto stock with feert towels… A single traveler staying for a night doesn’t need four bath towels… If they only use one, Yiu now need to wash and replace the other three… Makes more sense to me to put 2 or 3 in… More can always be requested as needed.

  16. “Alan says:
    March 27, 2022 at 11:18 am
    Another Biden Failure.”
    Really? A Biden failure?

    I did not know that Biden operated a hotel.

    How Brilliant of you to point that out to us.

  17. I don’t care about a hotel’s need for profit.
    If they don’t provide what I want at a cost that is acceptable I’ll book another hotel.
    If that means that the first hotel goes bankrupt it’s not my problem.

  18. To all you Biden apologists —

    I and the others who posted about another Biden failure get lost as you can’t see the forest for the trees —

    Biden does not operate a hotel, but he sure has had a hand in the spike on energy prices — even before Putin’s War where gas prices were up about $1 over where they were when he took office.

    And, no, you can’t blame the supply chain on gas prices because they reflected ongoing activity at the end of the Trump administration and the start of the Biden administration. The run up in the price of fuel was signaled by Biden on his first day in office when he cancelled the XL Pipeline.

    And, no, don’t regurgitate that tired old turd mentioned by Psaki that 9,000 oil leases are open/had not been bid/have not been drilled, because:

    1). Not all oil leases that have been bid prove to be successful economic undertakings after further detailed analysis;

    2). Dep’t of Energy and Dep’t of Interior now headed by Biden lackeys have been slow-walking the permitting of the infrastructure projects that are necessary to get those leaseholds that have been deemed to be economic positives, so no oil or gas can be recovered for the market to work; and

    3). The Treasury Dep’t and other banking agencies as well as big hedge funds, etc. have demonstrated their hostility to financing these very infrastructure projects thereby rendering these oil and gas leaseholds as stillborn.

    The oil and gas companies have gotten the message — The current US administration is hostile to US oil and gas exploration and production — even though it carries far less of a toll on the world’s environment than say, Russia, or the health of our geo-political allies — such as those in the Middle East, whereby Biden wants to flood the market with Iranian oil to lower prices.

    These guys just can’t do anything right.

    But, I digress — Higher energy prices translate into higher costs for domestic products — such as foodstuff — the ingredients Gary writes about above, as well as manufactured products be they domestic or imported, as they must all move by some mode of transportation that requires energy and Green energy provides very little for these industries.

    Therefore, the consumer might have had some cash, having been flush with Covid $$ but unable to spend them, but now the chickens are coming home to roost and the majority of the people are finding these higher energy prices unbearable, all except, those elites who are clustered in an around big cities or on the coast.

    Can’t wait for the mid-terms and then 2024 — if we survive by then because of Joe’s running off at the mouth might just get us into a nuclear war.

    What a Mr. Magoo Presidency!

  19. JORGE,

    Well, Jorge, if they do it will be because my brethren designed them, but don’t you worry, because there is an oh so secret code in the soft-ware to overlook people like me and my brethren.

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