Marriott, Hilton and Big Hotel Chains Are Jeopardizing Their Entire Business Model, How Much Is Left?

Sean O’Neill interviews a hotel marketing professor who believes hotels are underinvesting in their brands in the current environment, much to their detriment. Even one of the highlights of brand investment he cites, Disney, has been diluting the brand by removing experiences from accessible price points. But Disney is one of the good ones. It’s the Marriotts and Hiltons of the world that are especially problematic.

Hotel chains and hotel owners have different incentives. A hotel chain benefits from a strong brand. That attracts guests, which they can deliver to hotels. It attracts a revenue premium as well. And it serves as a short-hand a guest can use to know what they’re getting in terms of experience for their money.

A hotel owner, though, is happy to pay for the guest to stay at their property. But outside of repeat business, once the hotel owner has got the reservation their incentive is to spend as little money as possible servicing the guest or – in some cases – even maintaining the property (though this can affect resale value).

If a chain enforces brand standards, and fines hotels that do not live up to them, they can align incentives.

  • The brand standards are upheld
  • So guests staying at a brand trust that brand, and will stay at other hotels in the chain

But if a chain doesn’t enforce brand standards, the brand gets diluted. Guests used to think the brand stood for a certain level of quality, but they learn that’s not the case. When one hotel doesn’t uphold standards, it may not hurt that hotel but it hurts other hotels the guest might have stayed at which share the brand, and it hurts the value of the brand itself which is what the chain markets.

  • Chains have a short-term incentive to look the other way because that maximizes revenue for them. Hotel owners want the benefit of the brand at lowest cost. If chains impose costs on owners, the owners will go somewhere else, to a different brand. So being ‘easy for an owner to work with’ the chain can sign up the most hotels, and generate the most fees.

  • That’s a long-run destruction of value for the chain. The hotel owner pays a chain to rent its brand, but if the brand has less value fewer owners will receive benefit for the fees. Owners sometimes talk about a loyalty program member as a “lead” and the chain’s website as lead-generation. If guests don’t value the brand, they don’t go to the chain website to choose it over competitors, and they no longer have the reputation or customer base to sell. Hotel loyalty program devaluations further the problem.

Before the pandemic we saw a shift away from enforcements of some brand standards. For instance the Grand Hyatt San Francisco started experimenting with the elimination of room service. This wasn’t just a Hilton, Hyatt or Marriott dropping room service in exchange for a grab-n-go market, this was a more premium brand sacrificing higher standards for lower costs. Hyatt also dropped guaranteed turndown service as an elite benefit to lower housekeeping costs.

But the pandemic accelerated these trends. Owners were demanding lower costs and relaxed standards. The Marriott acquisition of Starwood led the Bethesda-based company to promise owners lower costs. And the amalgam of 30 brands made no sense, so they leaned into their loyalty program and website and having a presence everywhere rather than any clear brand messaging.

Chains like Marriott started enforcing the brand standards that existed far less. It wasn’t just about suspending standards for a period while business dissipated as a result of the pandemic. Once standards were officially returned they were policed less than ever. It wasn’t just club lounges not re-opening (that wasn’t a violation of a standard) and housekeeping standards relaxed (again, consistent with the rules) it was hotels not re-opening food and beverage outlets when the chains said those should be open, and properties doing an inferior job actually cleaning rooms. They kept fewer housekeepers and expected them to service rooms more quickly.

It’s this short-run sacrifice of brand standards, both de jure (reduced standards) and de facto (lack of enforcement) that has made individual owners happy in the short-tun but is sacrificing any long-run value for chains.

That lessens the gap between Airbnb and a hotel. If you’re not going to get daily housekeeping, or even a thoroughly cleaned room, and the hotel is going to add destination or resort (or energy) fees – and isn’t going to offer full service food and beverage on property – then how is it a better, more seamless experience than Airbnb, fees and all?

While a hotel chain’s customers are property owners, and guests are the product not the customer, it’s a dangerous game that many chains are playing focusing on short-term revenue from owners and risking long-term value for shareholders.

When the Marriotts and Hiltons of the world actually owned the hotels that they marketed, there was better alignment of incentives for maintaining and extending their brands (and they found it much easier to deliver promises to guests on-property). An ‘asset light’ model where the chain simply rents out the brand can work – but needs a laser-like focus on defending and growing the value of the brand, not merely living off of and depreciating it.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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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Comments

  1. Recently I found several Ritz Carlton properties reducing their attention to landscaping details and overall maintenance. While they still demand top prices, I would now consider them midrange Marriott properties. It’s becoming quite apparent they are using the pandemic excuse to save on services badly needed.

  2. Of course, Marriott or Hilton or IHG owning hotels would probably result in a better product. But that’s not realistic. They don’t want the real estate costs and liabilities. They could, however, require owners to hire the parent company to manage certain brands. Marriott allows franchisees to operate or hire a third-party to manage properties. As a result, over 70% of all Marriott hotels across all brands are managed by someone other than Marriott. You can’t effectively police your brand when the number is that high. There’s a reason why Starbucks does not franchise.

    I’m not sure about this statement:

    “If chains impose costs on owners, the owners will go somewhere else, to a different brand.”

    It seems like increasingly there are fewer moves for owners who want to lessen costs. Marriott isn’t even trying to compete with Hyatt. A cheap Marriott franchisee isn’t going to take down the Marriott flag for a Hyatt brand. Outside of low-end limited-service properties, Marriott to Wyndham or Marriott to Choice doesn’t make much sense. I suppose the only threat to Marriott is Hilton since Hilton is all about cutting costs (see breakfast, housekeeping, etc.) to maintain its current footprint.

  3. Just finished a 2 day stay @ a ‘full-service’ Marriott that was anything but. It’s not just the missing F&B or housekeeping or even the ridiculous fees-it’s all the missing ‘stuff’ that was taken out of the rooms, due to fear of the cooties, & never put back. Pens, paper, laundry bags, extra pillows/blankets, & real cups/glasses, to name but a few. The Marriott I was just in had 3, count ’em 3, hangers in the room. Then there’s all the deferred maintenance (missing lightbulbs, broken ice machines, etc) & websites that haven’t been kept up-the last 3 hotels I have stayed in since mid-June have all had outdated information on their websites pertaining to their F&B. The hotel owners may think they are saving money on all of this, but in my opinion, they are simply shooting themselves in the proverbial foot. Revenge travel won’t last forever & then what will they do? After this past week, I am seriously considering the AirBnB route going forward.

  4. I’m Titanium with Marriott and it’s completely useless. I have only one paid stay with them this year. I have found other alternatives that I can better extract value out of hotel stays than their worthless Bonvoy program. Even my business spend is not going to the chains anymore.

    At some point these hotel brands will realize they’ve taken it too far. Mess with your best customers, you aren’t left with much. It’s really a shame.

    I’d be curious if you ran a survey how many people with high level hotel status have changed their loyalty and spend habits?

  5. @Txrus: The website thing is what I don’t get. If you have an open bar or restaurant, why wouldn’t you tell guests about it and publish an update? F&B is like the most profitable aspect of a hotel. That is just incompetence on the part of the management and neglect on the part of the owner. How many guests aren’t booking because Marriott’s covid page for a particular property hasn’t been updated since late 2020 or early 2021 to reflect the hotel restaurant and bar are once again fully operational? IHG has already said going forward its lower-end brands won’t even have SOAP. Instead, they’re doing liquid hand wash. Holiday Inn properties no longer offer dry-cleaning. I don’t remember the last time I saw a pen or paper in the room. Before the pandemic, Marriott always required two bars of soap. One at the sink and one in the shower or bathtub. Now I see one. Many properties of all brands claim to have no body lotion.

  6. Hilton has removed complimentary late check out as an elite benefit. I just stayed at sn airport Hilton that has a new policy of only giving Diamonds a 1 pm checkout complimentary. At least Marriott Bonvoy still guarantees Platinum and above s 4 pm free late checkout.

  7. Sadly, an exceedingly accurate portrayal of the big hotel chains right now. Has the concept of attracting guests by providing value and a consistent product become so alien to the big chains that they don’t even recognize the damage they’re doing to themselves?

  8. Problem is chains are stuck in the past.

    My generation doesnt give a rat’s behind about ‘brand’

    Loyalty programs are an afterthought especially to the non-opm travellers, as there is little value to be extracted from.them above what a credit card can give you.

  9. @Bob: I tend to agree. How is anyone starting now going to save up enough points for 5 nights at 150,000 points per night? Unless you’re a biz traveler on, as you say, other people’s money, it’s really, really impossible to get anywhere near enough points. And without award-redemption charts, you never know how many points you’ll need exactly. The airlines and hotels alongside their credit card partners (to say nothing of the countless credit card-pimping bloggers) are doing a great job selling the fantasy of a free bucket-list trip to [insert name of destination here] that many casual travelers couldn’t afford with cash. But it’s just that: fantasy. I’m very fortunate to have gotten into this when the rules and programs were customer-friendly. I’m sitting on about 5.3 million hotel points and 700,000 airline miles. I can afford to spend 350,000 points on 5 nights at a hotel in Paris or London because, unless I lose my job, I’ll bank at least 350,000 points every year in my hotel stays.

  10. Inputs are different but same general argument has been made about US airlines for decades and the businesses have never been more profitable (admittedly from a low bar historically) despite a steady decline in quality. Americans buy on price with ease of use a distant second. Quality is the domain of the few, with most of them paying with other people’s money. Nearly every travel and leisure brand that has tried to truly compete on quality eventually reverted to the mean (looking at you JetBlue). Marriott can gut it’s quality standards but you’ll still need to stay somewhere. Supply creates its own demand.

  11. @Nick Thomas-actually, it was the exact opposite; the websites had more availability than what was actually happening which, to me, is a bait & switch. And the staff who are there generally, in my experience, not only want to have as little interaction w/the paying guests as possible but seem to genuinely resent our presence. I think there needs to be a new description for this industry because ‘hospitality’ certainly doesn’t work anymore, in my opinion.

  12. “Marriott can gut it’s quality standards but you’ll still need to stay somewhere. Supply creates its own demand.”

    @Miamiorbust: Sure, but maybe I’ll pick a Fairfield or Four Points over the Marriott or Westin.

  13. @Gary, I know at Hilton it was always subject to availability, but my recollection is that complimentary late checkout (subject to availability) used to be a stated benefit. The “subject to availability” part is still listed in the disclaimers page of their benefits, but since there’s now no other mention of the benefit, it no longer makes sense.

  14. Preaching to the choir.

    But I’m doubting this will change any minds in Bethesda or McLean. The only thing management cares about is the quarterly results. Cheapen your product and eventually your sales will drop, but that will be the problem for the guys that follow you. No long term thinking at US companies now.

  15. I gave up on hotel loyalty quite a while ago. Airlines are one thing — there are only a few of them, and they’re all basic variants on the same theme. Whereas there are a zillion wonderful independent hotels all over the world, and not only do the big chains offer a homogenized experience, but you’re also really limiting the scope of your experience. And, as this article notes, the large chains’ offerings are less and less respectful and rewarding to their regulars.

  16. Marriott is taking it a step further by placing a value on the Bonvoy program and creating their own in-house marketing on TVs and internet.

    After a email exchange with upper corporate regarding lack of service for Ambassadors, I replied “received your message-stop at Titanium, and do not spend another dollar at Marriott. There was no response as they do not care about the customer.

  17. Just like airlines, consistency is the name of the game. The hotel chains are so massive, they have all of these different indistinct brands, it’s made a mess.
    I tend to be mostly at Marriott properties. I have found that they protect the Westin brand with exceptional caution (only one bad experience out of many). The others are entirely unpredictable, particularly Courtyard.
    One property will be overwhelming with a suite upgrade, a club, polished service. The next will be a dump. One never knows what to expect.
    All of this is amid astonishing price hikes. No hotel room should be USD $900. With everyday price points like this, guests are guaranteed to feel frustrated and shortchanged.
    I wish I knew how to fix the problem other than by staying home.

  18. Most Marriott hotels will give you a coupon for breakfast at Starbucks when the lounge is closed or no restaurant. Many do not offer the choice of 250 points per day or breakfast for 2 in a sit down restaurant-customers choice if the lounge is closed. If they fail to offer a choice, you can collect $100/day but you must let the hotel know before check out.

  19. I’m glad that I’m not the only one who has noticed the decline in quality. And with the addition of all these junk fees (resort fee, parking fee, etc.) along with rising room rates, it seems that hotels are trying hard to put themselves out of business.

    We’ll have our first AirBnB stay in a couple of months.

  20. @txrus we would love to get our websites updated but there are not enough programmers. Every single hotel and business in the world needs their websites updated after covid and the backlog is unreal. As a hotel employee, my advice to you is to call the property directly and ask what you want to know or you can chat with us online thru the app. My next advice is to be patient and calm. We want to help you but may be swamped, don’t get mad, we do care and we respond better to kindness

  21. AirBnb? Give me a break. The hotels are bad with their garbage fees, but the AirBnBs are far worse. They’ll advertise one price, you’ll find the price on the dates you want them are 50-75% higher, and then the all in price is 3 to 4 times what the original daily price would calculate out at.
    If it come to that going to a Motel 6 or a Knights Inn or some other low end but clean hotel is a much more honest choice. You get what you’re promised, a place to lay your head. Which is a relief from the hotels that over promise and under deliver.

  22. Chains don’t care because
    1. Their customers are the hotel owners and the paying guests are the product
    2. The hotel chains are too big to fail, so there is no incentive to go a step beyond
    3. Lack of competition. After Marriott bought out spg, there is no worldwide competitor to Marriott. Hilton, etc are too small in comparison
    4. It’s the free market baby. Enjoy it.

  23. Brand? What brand?

    Marriott has 30 brand names under its umbrella. I defy you to tell me the difference in stay quality between a Fairfield Inn and a Marriott Courtyard, or an Aloft and a Moxy.

    With the continued lack of full service service post-COVID, what’s the difference in a Le Meridian and a Westin?

    Bed, shower, toilet, AC. Past that it’s a hotel room and I’m either out of it working or playing.

  24. In English, more than one thing is called a plural. Many times, the word that reprints that plural has an s on the end.

    “ Marriott, Hilton and Big Hotel Chains Are Jeopardizing Their Entire Business Model…”

    ModelS

  25. As Boraxo writes above, it is a Milton Friedmanesque application of currently popular business imperatives – to increase short time shareholder value at the expense of anything that costs money now.

    Since the manager who implemented the service cuts is soon gone on to the next job, no one is left to pick up the pieces.

    It is hitting every business segment, and will ultimately result in a collapse of many businesses.

    Sad.

  26. @European – Friedman’s formulation had nothing to do with ‘short time’ shareholder value, he’d certainly been applying net present value of future income streams over a long time horizon, and far from being “currently popular” his articulation is very much out of fashion/favor

  27. @Lori

    Between myself and two colleagues, we’ve spent over $500,000 with Marriott at its properties since 2015. Myself alone, I’ve spent $70,000 during the pandemic. We complained to Flueck, head of loyalty for Marriott, last year about not getting anything for legitimately re-qualifying during the pandemic when everyone else was getting their status automatically extended. We also identified a couple of areas where Marriott could improve; think the breakfast benefit. We were given a junior corporate staffer to speak with, which was at least better than a call center staffer. But Marriott basically told us to go away. Wouldn’t offer or promise anything. This year, we’ve spent the bare minimum re-qualifying for 2023 with exactly 100 nights and $20,150 in spend.

  28. @Mike R: Actually, that’s an easy one. Courtyards have a bar and typically a small restaurant with mediocre to low-quality food. Some Courtyards domestically and many internationally have a real, full-service restaurant. Fairfield almost never has a bar or restaurant, although there are some exceptions. There was a Fairfield by JFK and also in Toronto that had a restaurant. Internationally, some Fairfields in Asia have a restaurant and bar. I find the newly built or newly renovated Fairfields to have a much nicer decor and design than Courtyard. Courtyard is probably the worst-value of the Marriott brands since often the properties are the same price as a full-service brand like Sheraton.

  29. I’m just a guy who travels — mostly it’s my wife and I — about 60% business (either hers or mine), 40% leisure (hers *and* mine). Principal locations are across the US and Europe (once a year). I have Hilton Diamond status (via Hilton AMEX) and Marriott Platinum (via actual nights in a bed). Hyatt’s footprint is still too small and often with no presence whatsoever where we travel. We generally stay at brands such as Conrad and Waldorf, Westin and JW Marriott, with the occasional St. Regis or a W thrown in. (Principal exceptions would be at conferences held inside of “x” hotel, when we will generally stay at said hotel.)

    With Marriott’s service and quality sinking like a rock, I’m content to have Lifetime Gold status and leave it at that. I see no real advantage to being loyal to Marriott in the way that I was to Starwood, so this year more of my nights/spend are going to Hilton properties OR to Airbnb/VBRO. (With Hilton also dropping, what’s the point?) As we both approach retirement, I’m sure I’ll be downgrading my AMEX card — sure, I’ll sacrifice my Diamond status but whereas that once meant something, now…not so much.

    The short-sightedness and lack of any vision beyond tomorrow just astounds me.

  30. I see the cuts, and I concur with others that they are generally more ridiculous at full service brands. I stayed at a Renaissance – a RENAISSANCE – in the Spring of 2022 in a state with no covid rules that didn’t have daily housekeeping and required you to request it 24 hours in advance. The room had no shampoo or body lotion upon checkin, and the front desk clerk claimed she couldn’t give me any.

    What is the point of going to a Ren over lots of other brands that also have a bar in the lobby if they can’t be counted on to provide basic amenities? They’re still trying to charge $70 more a night than a Courtyard.

    It’s also absurd to go to some of these newly built suites like Springhill that don’t even have doors between the bedroom and living room for any room in the joint. I get why you build a bunch of studios, but that room is useless to me when I travel with little kids. They’re building these in suburban areas where land is not exactly at a premium. I don’t even bother with looking at Springhills for family trips because they usually are studios. And don’t get me started on the “harmonized” lower end breakfast at Residence Inns, etc that is basically inedible and meatless.

    What they are doing is teaching you to trade down in their brands from Renaissance or book somewhere else.

    Embassy Suites decision to hold to happy hour and have real food makes Hilton more and more appealing to me as a person who travels 2-3 times a year with kids. I will pay more to stay there since I’ve had a good experience with their stated amenities getting delivered. They have a pool that is open, two beers, free snacks, and enough breakfast food that I can feed 4-5 people out of their variety of choices.

  31. @Jackie-here’s the problem w/your patronizing ‘be kind & patient w/us’ statement; you are not 3 years old & I am not your mother asking you to clean up your toys. At the end of the day, I am the paying guest. When I pay for services, I expect to receive them. Most hotel staff I have encountered in the past month truly seem to feel is my job to make their jobs easy, preferably by doing almost everything myself. This hotel I mentioned that I was just in, for example-arrived to find not a single car or guest in the driveway or at the valet podium, but the valet person literally stood there at the podium, watched me unload all the luggage, & waited until I walked over to the podium to ask if I needed to valet. Walk into the lobby, front desk agents all clustered around one podium chatting w/each other & totally ignoring me until they were done w/their conversation. When I left on Saturday morning, restaurant not open when it was supposed to be, front desk agent in the back WITH HER FEET UP ON THE WALL, until I called to her to come out & the sum total of our conversation consisted of, ‘do you need a receipt’-as I walked away I did make a point of saying to her, ‘you’re welcome!’. Valet again watched while I put all the luggage in the car. These are literally just the tip of a very problematic 2 nights in this property that charged me $200/night. Give me one good reason why I should continue to give Marriott my money if this is the kind of reception I get when not a single employee could bring themselves to even say thank you? As far as your statement about no one available to update the websites-someone is clearly available to update the rates, right? The fact that the rest of the website, that the customers are interested in & use to make decisions, is not updated is just another example of the disrespect continually shown to the paying guests by this industry. The hotel industry has had a very good past couple of months, but it won’t last forever-at some point, you’re not only going to want my business again, you’re going to need it, but I will long remember properties like this one who couldn’t bother to say thank you to me even once.

  32. @Nick Thomas

    “Fairfield almost never has a bar or restaurant, although there are some exceptions.”

    I’ve never stayed at a Fairfield myself, but I’ve suffered through endless repetitions of a stunningly inane ad for Fairfield on countless AA flights. As I recall, the ad featured a stocky middle-aged woman doing the chicken dance in her room out of glee and astounded delight that the Fairfield’s bartender remembered her drink order. Based only on that miserable excrement of an ad, now painfully seared into my memory, I always assumed Fairfields had a bar as standard.

  33. In theory, the brand label on the hotel serves the same purpose as the Underwriters Lab mark on a piece of electronics. It gives the buyer a simple way to know a set of detailed standards are being met. When the product doesn’t meet the standards, the value of the mark is damaged for all those who pay to use it. If other properties now need to cut costs because they lose some of the marginal revenue the mark was providing, the result is a “death spiral” where the mark loses all value.

  34. Currently at a Springhill suites where they clean 70% of the room every 7 days, they give u new towels every other day, They never check the soap if it needs to be refilled.

  35. I’m so sick of hearing “because of the covid-19 pandemic” nope that’s bull. It’s because of profit taking at this point. The big brands look longingly at Airbnb and seem to trying to be duplicating that model. But I don’t want an Airbnb! I want a hotel with housekeeping and ammenties.

  36. And yet… Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt properties are almost back to being 95% full at higher prices, customers continue to sign up for end spend on the credit cards, and property reviews at the hotel level seem to be good (with the exception of some customers complaining about housekeeping or restaurant hours or whatever).

    The people who are complaint the most? Entitled, annoying elites like travel blog commentators who ultimately are unprofitable customers at the hotel level and are of dubious value to brands.

    Maybe Marriott and Hilton have it exactly right – dump demanding, costly customers like most of those that are replying to this post and seek out business travelers that value convenience, high end leisure travelers that value hotel quality over nickel and dining the loyalty program for perks, and road warriors of all kinds that need a big hotel footprint.

  37. Just finished a long road trip and can confirm that there’s not much of an effort to maintain brand standards among the actual owners. So what’s a business traveler who occasionally vacations to do? There’s no way in hell my corporate travel office would authorize booking an AirBNB (nonrefundable, full of fees, etc.).

    It helps to check out reviews on TripAdvisor and Flyertalk. There are a few branded hotels that still act like they want guests. They are getting more scarce in the US, but they still exist. For the vast majority, the race to the bottom continues at full speed.

  38. Have you ever stayed at a big Marriott for over 135 days (not all consecutive), where they never cleaned your room once, housekeeping told you to contact the desk for supplies and would not give towels off cart, and later told you were “stealing” supplies when you got supplies off the cart when a housekeeper did not show up for hours. One one of the stays, the same property charged my credit card $1500 while on a free 10 night point stay (no incidentals/room charges). I had to change my own sheets, vacuum, clean the bathroom etc.. It’s a true story all while the desk cops an attitude with you for being in their presence.

  39. We recently stayed at a Marriott hotel Clackamas, Portland Oregon. The room was not cleaned that well. A baby toothbrush on the floor and not enough Kleenex, etc. the second night their was no housekeeping services. Also their rates have increased significantly

  40. I’ve been top tier on Hilton and IHG and upper tier on all other brands at various times over 40 years of business travel. CoVid has become a convenient excuse to cut service standards. Gary, your post was right on point. Given the deterioration of hotel “hospitality”, here’s how I deal with it:
    1. Cut business trips as short as possible to avoid extra nights in dingy hotel rooms
    2. Choose independent hotels whenever possible. This almost always the case on my international trips, and was my practice even before CoVid
    3. Select properties on convenience. I just booked a hotel in one city because my chosen property was on the more convenient side of the freeway. Loyalty didn’t compel me to even bother to cross the road.
    4. Choose a hotel close to a good breakfast restaurant. Avoid the lobby buffet (or whatever passes for a hotel “breakfast”) at all costs.
    5. Work the points game off a bank card rather than hotel card. I use Chase Ultimate Rewards a lot and hold four Chase cards for various uses across my businesses. I pay no attention at all to hotel branded credit cards, because I no longer value hotel brand loyalty.
    6. If I want a suite, I just pay for it. Upgrades are not worth the hassle, if you even get one at all. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “sorry sir, but we don’t have availability.”
    7. Spend as little time as possible on property. I used to be a regular user of flagship full-service hotels and utilized their restaurants, membership clubs, etc for business meals, clients meetings, etc. It was primarily for simplicity and time management. No more.
    8. Identify property ownership companies that are especially egregious, refuse to stay at their properties and out them. I once saw a website that listed some of the worst offenders and their brands and specific properties under management, but I can’t locate it now. Gary, can you help?

  41. I am Globalist with Hyatt and Gold with Marriott. Stayed at 5 Hyatts and 2 Marriotts in Europe last month. Noticed none of the issues mentioned here. Daily housekeeping WITHOUT requesting, F&B fully operational….it was great. And almost entirely on points.

    Stayed at a Hyatt place in VA last week. Horrible. Housekeeping only every 3 days. Trash overflowing in bins near elevator….yet they were changing full price and had to be at least 90% full. We were paying peak cash rates.

    Is this specifically a US problem?

  42. @Jackie: It’s called a basic WYSIG website program/interface. It’s like Microsoft Word but designs and edits websites. No programmers required. They have been around for 20 years or more.

  43. Excellent advice, @DFWSteve. A few more, your mileage may vary:

    I’ll never understand the appeal of “free breakfasts,” and avoid them. They consist mostly of obesigenic processed garbage. If you get food/beverage credits as a status amenity, spend it on a drink or a marketplace item– never use it towards an overpriced meal at the hotel restaurant.

    Select hotels based on convenience and pay for the suites if they are important. Marriott Platinum and Hilton Gold status have not done much for me this past year. (Oddly, Hilton has been the evil of two lessers recently, but that has more to do with the individual properties than with the loyalty program). Status is fine if you get it through work travel, but not worth chasing otherwise.

    Use years of accumulated points on necessary personal travel– that unplanned funeral or family event in an expensive city. Or if stranded unexpectedly due to a cancelled flight. For most people, that’s a more practical earn-and-burn than pinning your hopes on scoring a suite in the Maldives.

  44. I just completed a 5-night stay at a Courtyard in a small-ish Capital city. It is older but in a convenient location with AMPLE shopping and dining within a 5-to-10-minute drive, right off a major Interstate connecting Downtown with the northern suburbs. Here’s the good and the bad: 1) At check-in, I was not thanked for my Titanium status nor offered an elite room key. I was offered my welcome bonus and either the pathetic $10 to spend at the restaurant (only open for breakfast, by the way) or points for my stay. Luckily, my schedule was such that I had to leave for work each day at dawn. So, the breakfast meant nothing to me. I always bring my dinner to the room anyway. 2) The maintenance was reasonably good. Someone had shattered the upper pane on one of the side doors and it seemed to have gone weeks (if not months) without repair. 3) The elevator frightened me (and I don’t scare easily). As my room was on the second floor, I dragged myself down the stairwell each night and morning, including with my luggage upon departure. 4) The WiFi was free for all guests and did not require authenticating with one’s Bonvoy credentials. The speed was good except that we had 2 outages during my stay, each lasting about 3 hours. I had my cellular hotspot with me, which enabled email. However, with Thursday Night Football switching to Amazon Prime Video in a few weeks, I would have been relegated to watching on my phone. 5) On that same subject of television, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it had ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNews along with FS1 and NFL Network. 6) When I checked in, the clerk asked whether I wanted housekeeping during my stay. I answered in the affirmative. It consisted of: a) making the bed and emptying the trash after the second night; and b) replacing the towels, empyting the trash and restocking the soap after the fourth night. That was all. Ironically, I have another meeting in a few weeks and have chosen to stay there once more because the location and long-term stay rate CRUSHES the other Marriott properties throughout the area. Parking is free and access to major highways is just as I need it. The sleep conditions also are surprisingly quiet given that it lies just 400 feet from not 1 but 2 major multilane traffic arteries frequented day and night by big rigs. Beyond the aforementioned details, I’d say that I found my room to be well maintained. I once stayed at the Courtyard in Mexico City, which impressed me. That visit was before the pandemic but even so, this place I just patronized PALES in comparison. That Mexico City location is a credit to the brand.

  45. It’s a major inconvenience, but I call the individual hotels and ask them what do they “not” have and have to go through a list. Used to be simply that a Hilton, Doubletree, Marriott, Sheraton, etc had consistent experiences and services within each brand. As we all see that is long gone “for you safety…” bs crap. Have to find out what they cut before booking. And yeah at this point, loyalty to any brand is worthless.

  46. Last summer the front desk at the Fairfield Livingston (north side of Yellowstone) said “thank you for your loyalty…”. I was pleasantly surprised to hear it but realized how long it had been since a hotel thanked a guest for their loyalty. A simple phrase was an eye opener to what was lacking.

  47. These are like mouthpiece views of penalty hungry brands …but far from facts …

    In reality Penalties are so excessive that owners are not able to maintain the hotels due to overspending on penalties .

    Do you know Average hotel owners pays almost million over 10 years in penalties and kickbacks to preferred vendors .

    That is the real reason hotel owners are not investing in properties .

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