Marriott Looking To Eliminate Alarm Clocks, Reduce Breakfast Costs

The Points Guy executive editor Scott Mayerowitz attended a breakfast with Marriott’s top executives where the shared they were considering eliminating alarm clocks from rooms. They’re also looking to ‘simplify’ and reduce the cost of breakfast at brands where that’s included in the room rate for all guests like Residence Inn; Towne Place Suites; Springhill Suites; Fairfield Inn and Suites; and Element.

Marriott s group president for the U.S. and Canada claims eliminating alarm clocks isn’t about costs, but it’s about costs.

“The key thing is we have to be able to figure out how to service our guests at the end of the day. And the vast majority of our owners would agree with us,” he said, noting that it isn’t about cuts but about practical needs, such as the alarm clock. “It’s been a wonderful opportunity to look at some of those things that are historic in nature and have no application in terms of the real life we live in today.”

And, he says, providing lower-cost breakfast isn’t about costs either even though it’s about costs.

“It’s more about how do we make sure that what we’re offering is the best. So when you think about it across our free breakfast brands, how do we simplify the breakfast offering? Breakfast is king across all of our brands,” he said. “How can we do it in a more cost-effective way? And at the end of the day, perhaps even deliver a better product and a better experience?

People may be able to use their phones as alarm clocks, though try teaching some older guests to do that (they may have smart phones but that doesn’t mean they know how to use their apps).

And the last thing I want to do in the middle of the night is pick up my phone from the night stand and look at it. Far better for going back to sleep to turn and look over. Besides, how many hotels have I been in where I can’t even plug my phone in by the bedside – with whatever limited outlets there are taken by lamps and the like?

Eliminating clocks from rooms means potentially getting less rest. On the other hand without alarm clocks perhaps people will oversleep and miss the free breakfast? And that’s “a more cost-effective way” of offering free breakfast, for sure. After all guests have a ‘short-term memory’ in the words of Marriott’s CEO, and need to have more sympathy for ownership groups that want to charge more and deliver less.

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. Marriott s group president for the U.S. and Canada Is correct. Just like Marriott group president, I too have been focusing on reducing the cost and thus decided to travel only whenever I get free nights or when I can stay with points. Never to shell out a penny in Marriott hotels

  2. Well, at least the sort of Marriott group president for the U.S. and Canada is sort of not lying. Reducing the sort of amenities they may offer in the future will not bode well for them.
    Too many bean counters there and not enough customer experience professionals.

    I guess I will take a sort of hard pass on Marriot properties in the future.

  3. These are the same hotel executives who said customers wanted desks removed.

    Don’t forget that many of these “alarm clocks” are bluetooth speakers and US charging hubs.

    What next? Removing TVs because guests have a laptop or taking out the coffeemaker?

    They also better be careful with breakfast. Holiday Inn Express has an excellent free breakfast that’s better than any of the free breakfasts at Marriott brands.

    It’s one thing to eliminate a free breakfast if the properties have a way to charge for a better breakfast that captures new revenue. It’s something else to swap out powdered eggs and frozen sandwiches for granola bars and yogurt.

  4. Clocks are useful, but not alarm clocks. People use their phones for alarms these days, but its always handy to be able to just look up and see the time without having to find/unlock etc your phone.

  5. Watch out for that last comment — just about the most absurd thing I’ve ever read here.

  6. I don’t need the clock, and I’d trade breakfast for a better workout room, but I expect I’m the exception…and I’m sure Marriott is looking for savings, not trade. Hyatt is my new hero.

  7. agree hotel alarm clocks are not needed in 2021. Everyone has a smart phone. If not call the front desk and get a wake up call – problem solved.

    Gary – you have become the kid who cried wolf on Marriott and American. I just ignore the BS opinions you have lately. Please get back to traveling w reviews and real news instead of this biased agenda and the National Inquirer cut and paste articles you have been posting. Man you are getting lazy

  8. @FNT Delta Diamond: “What next? Removing TVs because guests have a laptop…”

    Hmmm, where have I heard that argument before? So much of these cuts remind me of our friends at AA, who imagine that every cost-cutting measure can be justified as “responding to changing customer behavior”.

    We all know which companies care about the customer experience and which pay lip service to it. It eventually becomes clear to all of your customers where you stand. No matter how big your footprint becomes, we have alternatives.

  9. “People will oversleep and miss breakfast.” Gary, you nailed it right on the head! Their secret Master plan!
    These Marriott “leaders” are going to destroy that brand…..

  10. The alarm clocks in hotel rooms have served only one purpose for me in a long time. That is to wake me up at some strange hour because people that set the alarms rarely turn them off. This also frees up an AC outlet for other purposes, albeit usually not exactly handy.

    I just call out “Hey Siri. What time is it?” or “Hey Siri Wake me up at X o’clock”.

  11. @AC everyine has a phone, so hotels don’t need TVs either. They have wifi so you can stream to your own device.

    American Airlines taught me that…

  12. Remove alarm clocks! Number one reason is because previous guests leave them set and the wake me up at odd hours of the night. Happens to me at least once a month. Plus they are too bright and I have to face them away from the bed.

  13. I thought the more telling comment was the strategy by Marriott executives to have more conversion properties. That is to say, getting either independent hotels to join Marriott or branded hotels quit competitors and join Marriott. The strategy going forward is not to have the best hotels, which would result in guest paying more money per night, but rather to have as many as hotels as possible by making it cheap for owners to stay part of Marriott and new owners to join Marriott. Instead of competing with Hyatt, Marriott seems to view IHG and Wyndham as competitors.

  14. For those complaining about the alarm clock waking you up at odd hours because the previous guest left it on, that’s a failure on the part of housekeeping. Housekeeping is supposed to check the clock and make sure the alarm is turned off, along with checking the time on the clock and making sure it’s set correctly.

    I tend to use the alarm on my phone, but I like being able to look over at the clock to see the time, especially when I wake up before the alarm goes off. And if there’s going to be a clock, might as well make it an alarm clock since they cost about the same. That, or put a cheap analog, battery powered clock on the wall that the younger people cant read

  15. I don’t use the alarm on the clocks but I do use the clocks themselves. I like being able to glance quickly at a clock and to see the time vs having to pull out my phone to check every time I want to see the time. Just another example of Marriott looking to take things away from guests so they can maximize their profit. It is not like the guests will see any savings.

  16. Good, I can’t stand the alarm clock in the room. I try to unplug it – I like total darkness and the light drives me crazy plus I’ve been caught too many times when the alarm when off at odd hours from the previous guest. As far as breakfast, keep it healthy and fresh.

  17. A more “cost effective” breakfast delivered with a “better experience”. That’s typical executive doublespeak effectively saying “you’re going to love the way we cut back on breakfasts”.

  18. Breakfast is shite at those brands anyway. Would rather just get a credit and have better options.

  19. Where does Marriott find these bozos who think that perpetually making things worse for the customer is somehow a viable long term business strategy.

  20. People have complained the clocks are not set at the correct time. Easy fix: set the clock. Also people who complained the alarm went off at odd hours there is an easy fix: turn the alarm off. How about taking some responsibility.

  21. For me a TV (larger screen) is always my preference over watching over the phone. To me it feels silly for two of us to sitting or laying beside each other watching the same content on our phone screens.

    Having an in room meal and watching the phone is also problematic.

  22. How about getting rid of the stupid wireless phones? I would say about 90% of the time the battery cannot hold a charge anyway. Nobody ever checks them to make sure they work.

    I do like the clock to glance at from anywhere in the room, but I would never trust the alarm over my phone.

  23. Honesty and integrity are probably core values in Marriott’s corporate charter. Therefore, everything that comes out of the mouths of their executives must, in fact, be true. They sleep well at night.

  24. The senior management may have ulterior motives, however, they are correct about alarm clocks being obsolete. Nearly all people who stay in a hotel don’t trust the alarm clock to function properly and don’t use it. The Bluetooth speakers are something we don’t even want guests to be using. Play music in headphones or earphones. There is always the wake up call for the few older guests who travel and don’t know how to use an alarm setting on their phones.

  25. Death to alarm clocks!!! Way too much sleep ruined by alarms left by previous guests or set maliciously by housekeeping. Best case, it’s a source of white light we always cover with a towel.

  26. Former night auditor no one has time to set those clocks! They are forever wrong so many call or come down to say the time was wrong to me. I always did a wakeup call but most have a policy if you miss your wakeup for your flight we have to make it right for you. They call and say the clock next door to me is ringing and to turn it off lol. Yeah use a smartphone but older people can’t even use the gps in it to find the hotel!

  27. I don’t mind [hotels] getting rid of alarm clocks. They take up space on the nightstand, usually have bright red LED displays that make it hard to fall asleep, and (as mentioned above) they are sometimes set to ring at an unknown hour of the morning.

    Breakfast, on the other hand, is a very tangible benefit that hotels cheapen at their own peril. As Napoleon (or Frederick the Great of Prussia) said, “an army marches on its stomach,” which holds true for business travelers and vacationing families as well as uniformed soldiers. Mess with people’s food and they will remember.

  28. Famed concert promoter Bill Graham said that it’s not about the money, it’s about the money.

    Regarding Marriott’s position, it’s about the money.

    Given all the statements that have been made recently, does anybody truly not understand?

    The ONLY thing that will get their attention is if their numbers move. In the absence of their numbers moving, they will not give a poop. Complain all you want. If you don’t like it, walk.

    This is the grim reality of it all. Accept it. BlackHill (first comment) has it right.

  29. Put an Alexa Dot in every room. It tells the time accurately, can be programmed to wake you up in the morning and it can help you book a reservation at Hyatt and Hilton.

    Marriott jumped the shark decades ago. The company is run by bean counters who are completely out of touch with the needs of the traveler.

    Why stay at an outdated Marriott property and wonder how much of your personal data is on the Dark Web compliments of Marriott’s two massive data breaches when you can stay at Hilton or Hyatt and relax in peace?

  30. Adios alarm clocks ! Sounds good to me. The breakfast is already gross. How can they cut costs there ??? Sounds like a bad idea

  31. I been staying in a lot of Marriott hotels recently, so much so I leave reviews on my website.
    With that said, in ten years I have never used the alarm clock. If I wanted to wake up early, I would call the front desk and ask them to give me a wake up call.
    I’m not saying Marriott should ignore customer comfort in search of profits (I don’t own hotel stock).
    But let’s face it. For me, the alarm clock takes up needed space.

  32. @David Wooledge, based on the comments here, it seems that almost no one knows how to set a clock, set its alarm, turn the alarm off or even unplug a clock.

  33. I don’t really care about the alarm clocks (even though I too find em useful to see what time it is…), but I do care about breakfast. I stay at a lot of Fairfield/Residence/Springhill/Hampton/etc and while sometimes bad, I generally like their breakfasts. When a property has a lousy breakfast, I never give it more than three stars since I value that amenity a lot. I wonder what they plan to cut…

  34. Good riddance… even if you check them sometimes you forget and get blasted out of bed at 4am by a previous guest’s alarm. And they are always so bright they have to get covered. The breakfast is a joke since covid anyway.. at best a prison grade muffin and old apple in a sack nowadays!

  35. Removing clocks is an excellent idea. I generally unplug them – too much light right next to the bed. And the risk of being woke up at a random time by an alarm I did not know was set. Or the risk of oversleeping because I did not set the unfamiliar alarm properly.

    Cell phone is right next to my bed. And I know how to use it.

    Gary has become that person who complains for the sake of complaining…

  36. Marriott seems to want to take away everything that made it a Marriott to begin with. How can you possibly cheapen a breakfast that was pretty cheap in the first place. Bean counters count beans but obviously know nothing about customer satisfaction! Their cost-cutting measures will cost them a lot of business and leave them a mediocre brand! What a shame!

  37. No clocks, no breakfast, no room cleaning, resort fees, parking fees, housekeeping automatic tip, phone use fee, no front desk check in, no keys are all something customer wants? Oh, Shampoo, etc… Customer don’t want these? Rethink where I stay. Happy I got clean sheets for my last stay.

  38. About the alarm clocks, the alarm part is unnecessary. People use their devices for that. However, the clock itself is indeed useful. Also, some of Marriott’s alarm clocks have USB charging built in. Since so many hotels still have outdated setups where you have the bedside lamps taking up pretty much all of the outlets (and the outlets in them often not functional), we need those USB chargers.

    And….on the quips about about Marriott removing TV’s: it wouldn’t shock me. As it is, the channel selection on their TV’s is a joke. Some of their hotels in the Chicago area don’t offer WGN-9 (because it’s not a network), some in LA don’t offer KCAL-9 for the same reason. Beyond that, you get 29 ESPN channels and not a lot else. Their “cable” absolutely sucks. Every other chain blows it away as far as the TV is concerned. Yet another disappointment from a chain that thinks it’s excrement doesn’t stink.

  39. Points Guy has review of AC Hotel by Marriott Wailea in which a question about breakfast park goes about as well as you would expect…

  40. How much is removing an alarm clock going to save per night over its useful life? One cent?

    I’m in the camp of liking to look over and seeing the time without having to pick up my phone.

  41. Gary, you write an excellent blog with good information that many find very useful. Thank you for that.
    I just returned from a week at various Hilton properties and was told that Hilton will be doing away with room clocks.
    Many hotel guests know how to use the dimmer on the clocks and use that as a nightlight to prevent tripping and injury. We have had a number of people show up in the emergency room with various fractures or other injuries from trip/fall accidents in dark hotel rooms, as well as at home.
    Is it such a trauma to put a towel over the clock or turn it away from oneself if the light is bothersome, or even to unplug it if you don’t want its’ functions??
    Strange new hotel rooms utilized by families with children, older folks, people with orthopedic or visual issues, disabled or compromised folks might appreciate the clock for its’ adjustable light.
    Folks, have a heart and think of your fellow people, not just yourself.

  42. Marriott needs to start listening to the customers. They are running them away.

  43. I would trade the alarm clock for a towel bar in the bathroom. If there is no towel change except upon request at least hanging the towel will afford an opportunity to reuse it. I would never want to reuse a towel left anywhere in the bathroom where it can stay wet and get moldy.

  44. @Nathan if still set alarms are waking you up at least once a month may I, respectfully, suggest that you add: check alarm clock to your list.

    Yes you probably shouldn’t have to do so as it should’ve been done by housekeeping but if it’s happening that often and is a big enough issue for you to comment on it then I’d suggest it’s also probably worth just checking the thing when you get in the room.

  45. The alarm clock takes up either one wall plug or the only lamp plug.

    Alarm clocks:
    -do not update when Daylight Savings switches
    -are not synched for accuracy, and it is hard to know if a previous user programmed unwanted alarm times.

  46. How does it save money to remove the alarm clocks? They are a sunk cost. Or are they leased?

  47. I know someone (bill Reeves )who won’t pay 5 dollars 4 a grilled cheese. He won’t stay at marriot now.

  48. Long before I used my phone as an alarm I would set a wakeup call. Can’t recall ever using the in-room alarm clock, except perhaps as a USB port for those that have them.

    As for breakfast… well.. The last couple of stays during Covid times provided me a breakfast that consisted of a grab bag with a banana and a cup of yogurt. So, if they plan to downgrade from THAT…. I suppose they could lose the banana.

  49. I need that alarm clock. I can sleep though it going off and incorporate it into my dreams. I have one in my house that I purchased at Lechmere (yes that old, 1993). I use it every day. When away ONLY use the alarm to leave to get to the airport or to get out of the room for something else that is important. I CAN NOT rely on my phone as a Alarm clock is it is TOO SOFT. I have used the front desk for a wake up call before and I am still waiting for a number of them to still call me.

    By the way you can get a Alarm Clock at Target for $15, now the Bible cost $7, GET rid of that.

  50. Marriott’s failure as a brand is a business school case study waiting to happen. SPG should have never been taken over by them.

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