Marriott Furloughs “Tens Of Thousands” Of Employees, Many Hotels To Close

Hotels that are empty don’t need so many people at the front desk or servicing rooms. Restaurants that aren’t allowed to serve guests except on a to-go basis don’t need as many servers, even if they had guests. And so Marriott has furloughed ‘tens of thousands’ of employees who will not be paid, but will continue to receive health benefits.

Many hotels will also be closing. The Wall Street Journal reports occupancy at U.S. properties has “plummeted to 20% or lower, and many hotels are in single digits.”

“As travel restrictions and social distancing efforts around the world become more widespread, we are experiencing significant drops in demand at properties globally with an uncertain duration,” Marriott said in a statement. “We are adjusting global operations accordingly, which has meant either reduction in hours or a temporary leave for many of our associates at our properties.”

Marriott, which had about 174,000 employees globally at the end of 2019, said the furloughs will affect all types of workers. They won’t be paid their salaries during their time away from the company, but they will receive health care benefits.

Remember that many Marriott hotels are franchised, and don’t have Marriott employees. Those hotels will likely see layoffs too, but under the banner of their owner’s or management company’s brand.

So far while the layoffs go up through general managers, there haven’t been any terminations or furloughs at corporate. That’s likely to change. This is only the beginning and I expect similar moves from other chains.

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. Given a choice, an employee would prefer taking a furlough (break without pay) vs. layoff. Added health benefit is always a plus! I don’t understand why airlines and other industries don’t practice that. Give employees an option to get either x% of salary for 3-6 months, or accept layoff. I am sure most will chose the former.

  2. @ Gary — What a shock, the worst hotel company in the world sticks it to their employees first.

  3. @ Gene – it’s a detour from their regularly-scheduled agenda of sticking it to their customers first.

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