Marriott Wants You To Pay For Rooms, Even If You Don’t Reserve Them

Marriott’s new CEO Tony Capuano is off to quite a start. Since assuming the role in February he’s flattered China’s authoritarian rulers, declared publicly that hotel workers make too much, and criticized guests for their short-term memory in failing to have greater sympathy for the plight of owners.

Capuano wants to keep as many cost cuts in place as possible. What if the hotel industry gets struck by another crisis? He has a solution to that: taxpayer subsidies. You wouldn’t stay at his hotels, but he wants to make sure you pay for the rooms anyway.

In an interview with Business Traveller he lays out a plan to make sure that hotels get their share of taxpayer loot the way airlines did in the next crisis. He is working with the heads of other hotel chains to make future requests for cash about the employees.

I am talking to Chris Nassetta at Hilton, Mark Hoplamazian at Hyatt and Keith Barr at IHG to build consensus across the big global brand players that we’ve got to use the power of this broad employment base to encourage governments to think and act more deliberately around helping us drive a return in travel and tourism.

What we saw in the US, candidly, was our friends in the airline industry were better coordinated. When you look at some of the aid packages that the US Federal Government offered, it was because the airlines had been through this before, they had a quick and coordinated response, a well-articulated request for support and were quite successful. One of the learnings for me is that the hotel segment of travel and tourism should aspire to have that same level of coordination in the face of a future crisis.

What he misses is that the airline jobs at stake were high paying union jobs, and the solvency of some of the airlines were at stake. Most of the money was captured by the airlines, not the workers, but the unions went along because their goal was to keep American Airlines and United out of Chapter 11 where they might see their contracts rewritten.

Hotels don’t have this confluence. When one hotel or a group of hotels go under, smaller numbers of jobs (that usually pay less) are at risk and broad union contracts across the industry aren’t at the same risk of being re-written.

Capuano also shared his vision that hotels keep reduced services in place into the future, and he wants better technology to communicate clearly with customers which restaurants on property are closed or “are they operating on reduced hours, is the gym open, do you require a reservation.”

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. Can he do it and what’s will people think about what he trying to do? It’s sounds ridiculous but I can’t do anything unless other complain.

  2. @ Gary — This guy is exactly what is wrong with America. The government should be working to help the average person compete for their living, not billionaires and big corporations, as the latter are leeches up on it. We need a restoration of real capitalism, whereby people and companies have to fight for their livings, not just stick their hands out for subsidies and tax breaks.

  3. Glad I am retired and not doing the hotel runs of yore. It sounds like a race to the bottom. Another thing that differentiate these chains from airlines is the millions of alternatives people have to a specific chain. Be it Airbnb or smaller boutique hotels there is no lack of competitors to the chains that they can’t merge out of existance.

  4. I have been retired for several years. In my high traveling days, I always stayed at the Marriott. With my tie in with Continental, I was always given entry to the Lounge on the Executive level, even if I wasn’t upgraded to those rooms. Was always treated like an honored guest. And they always said thank you.

    From reading your blog, I am very happy to no longer be part of that downhill race for recognition and perks. The only holdover is my lifetime membership in United IK, courtesy of my lifetime with Continental (starting with EA as an Executive Traveler). As we retired in Europe, flying with LH enables us to visit the Senator Lounges.

    Feel sorry for the rest of you. Travel would appear to be more of a pain than in my day.

  5. There can be no capitalism with ongoing mergers and acquisitions. No competition, no room for the little guy. I worked for Marriott about four years. I haven’t kept up but I’m assuming J W sold out? Marriott in my opinion was always overrated and overpriced. This guy sounds like he needs a ride to Kabul.

  6. Big corporations, the ultra-wealthy, and self-centered unions have mastered how to play the government and mastered the government in the process. The net result is that the average American is left carrying the huge but diffuse costs (over a huge population) while the concentrated benefits of mastering the government accrue to the most privileged and some coattail riders.

  7. Do not forget a corrupt, perpetually campaigning political class in America that loves (hidden) bribes and other inducements offered by lobbyists for airlines, ‘defence’, and other industries and, if this mobster gets his way, hotel owners, too. American capitalism is turning out to be socialism for the mega-rich. No wonder the world is sickened by what it sees and is looking for alternatives. Maybe the Chinese model IS fairer and better!

  8. The majority of hotel job pay minimum wage except for the GM, and upper management. His theory is flawed because this industry is basically low paying jobs and does not involve union labor. But give Pelosi or Schumer time and they’ll find a way to pass the fees on to tax payers.

  9. I flew out of CLT and decided to give the Marriott a try even though it was more expensive than where I always stay. It was bright clean and nice enough but……when it took almost an hour to get the shuttle to pick me up and I didn’t get to my room until almost 11:30 pm, it didn’t seem worth the extra money.
    The best I could figure out was the knew they had to pick up a flight crew that was coming in and they were not going to send the van out just for me. So I sat there. When the flight crew arrived, tbe van magically showed up.
    That kind of service turned me off to paying extra $$$$ for the Marriott brand.

  10. But, can the new Marriott CEO fix the old IT of Marriott ? Or just continue to ignore the Marsha software problems.

  11. @ Chester — I think you meant give Trump and McConnell more time and they will figure out how to stuff their pockets with more corporate bribes? The Republican party is the party of liars, who will say anything to steal from the middle class.

  12. America is barely capitalist. Its a Corporatist oligarchy getting more socialist by the year whether we recognize it or not. It still amazes me how the US dollar has any global value at all. How much would you be willing to spend to get your team elected when, if your team wins, they control the money making machines.
    Oh, we spend $10 billion to get our team elected by any means possible? Great, we get a 20x return on investment…just turn on the money printers.
    Hell, we are basically paying general public people off to vote for a certain political party. Get them attached to that team by government handouts, and you have that voter for life.
    America is so F***ed in the future.

  13. @Gene
    Agree with you about the republican party but prove to me how Dems are any different. Why do you think most of the wealthiest people in America vote democrat?
    Hint: it’s not because they care so much about the working class

  14. I grew up in the DC area many years ago, after school/Air Force came back our family did business with the Marriotts ( real estate) Willard (aka “the old man” and Bill ran that company based on service and integrity something that has been lost with Bill’s retirement and the family essentially out other than stock ownership. I was brought up to use Marriott I have had a FF account since 1983 I have over 4300 room nights. Now comes this clown telling us this?

    Face it folks the Marriott that we once knew is gone never to reappear. I am sitting on 1.5mm in points which diminish in value everyday and every time this idiot opens his mouth.

    Loyalty is becoming less and less important now to travelers I don’t always look to Marriott as I once did rather where I want to stay not where I have to stay. That fact is going resonate in the coming years with many of us. During the Covid like many people I “downsized” my Credit cards ( also with security hacks) Guess what card got cut up Marriott!!

    This guy is another “Parker” mark my words.

  15. During my stay last week at a Marriott Courtyard I had to pull my trash, make my bed, do to front desk for towels, TP facial tissue, soap, in-room coffee service and I wiped all services upon arrival because the room clearly wasn’t clean. Prior to that I was at a dirty ALoft and earlier at a just passable Marriott. All work travel – I will not stay at a Marriott on my dime. But they must save money with me doing all the work.

  16. With 22 years under my belt as a Platinum Elite/Titanium and 2,737 total nights in Marriott hotels, it’s sad to see this change in attitude first hand. Since the merger with Sheraton, things have steadily declined. Marriott was alway my first choice and I was always treated exceptionally well. That’s not the norm anymore and Marriott is no longer my first choice when I travel. I currently travel more than ever and find that Marriott’s golden days are over. I’m top tier in Intercontinental and will choose them or Hilton now over Marriott.

  17. Politicians who need the airlines to fly them back and forth from their district to Washington are not similarly dependent on hotels.

  18. I have been loyal to the SPG-brands (now Bonvoy) since 2002, and in that time have been Platinum for 13 years, am a lifetime Gold level and within a stone throw of lifetime Platinum. The direction Marriott has taken their business and the loyalty program has turned me off. I find the free platinum breakfast is nearly extinct, many properties have limited-to-no point-redemptions, a far cry from the SPG policy, and falling value of points.
    As a result, I no longer feel my loyalty is merited. Marriott’s size offers great choice, but I feel treated better Wyndham and Hilton properties, and find myself enjoying the occasional Four Seasons stay as much or more than Ritz Carltons.
    I no longer look first for Bonvoy properties when I travel.
    I also am researching the best deals to convert my 2 million plus points into a partner program and cut my historically weighted ties to Bonvoy entirely.

    I hope Tony “the corporate-welfare poster-boy” Capuano of Marriott is reading.

  19. Comparing to airline jobs are just dumb. Yes, a good chuck of the airlines are low skilled labor, however a lot of it isn’t. It’s not just the flight attendants and pilots. It’s the dispatchers. The mechanics. So much more. This is very highly skilled labor you can’t lose or lapse.

  20. At the end of the day, we’re the idiots who keep putting these people in office who hand out our tax dollars like crack to corporate America. It’s called Crowny Capitalism. Look it up. Both sides are guilty.

  21. As a former Marriott employee they don’t pay peanuts. They push the incentive that rooms benefits are a perk when in actuality they will cancel your reservation and not tell you until you arrive. Can you imagine traveling hundreds of miles and to get to a property and find out they canceled your reservation because they have the opportunity to sell out and would rather make that money over your discounted rate. I have worked for all the big brands. Marriott has been the only one I have come across that will cancel an employee quick and not tell you. With the pennies that they pay you can you imagine going to a city that you don’t know anything about to find out you have no where to sleep especially if the city is sold out. The health benefits they offer are not worth it because they cost so much. He refuses to pay employees more but they are the ones dealing with people cussing, fussing, throwing things and even at times threatening to get physical. Those are the guest that they reward with more points and free nights. Marriott has shown that they have no loyalty to anyone but their pockets. Hilton will take away an employees room benefits if they do not show up for a reservation and they can’t get the money from the card on file. Guest are allowed to change their method of payment when they check in but employees are not. Since the health benefits are expensive and for some properties non existent the room benefit they should uphold. I left after traveling to another state and city I had never been to. I went for a funeral and my heart was broken we had nowhere to stay. The rates for the days we needed to be there were expensive. We drove back and missed my uncle’s funeral my mom’s brother and she was with me. She was very upset because she couldn’t believe they are able to just cancel a reservation and not make arrangements at another property seeing that I was coming from another state. I know that eventually Marriott will lose more than business they are always going to struggle for employees because they don’t care about you. IHG also will sell out but alot of times they are selling out to owners. Yes, owners hold their meetings at a particular property and they sleep in the best rooms and pay less meanwhile when a hotel is near selling out the rates go through the roof and you pay for it and they pay $119 which in reality they do not pay. I read a comment earlier where the gentlemen stated he was not upgraded but got lounge benefits. That is usually why you’re not eligible for a upgrade. These hotels are always finding ways to make their members pay more and ways not to reward you. At the end of the day I have retired and I do not stay in any of the brands I have mentioned. They are of no use to me. Best Western has really stepped their brand up and I love them!

  22. I now do my best to never stay or book with any Marriott property. The CEO seems to find me an undeserving guest I see Marriott an undeserving chain

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