Marriott’s CEO Endorses ‘Hygiene Theater’ And Normalizes Chinese ‘Extraordinary’ Government Power

Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson endorsed ‘hygiene theater’ explicitly speaking at Skift‘s Global Forum. He knows that some Covid efforts aren’t effective but sees them as important signaling tools anyway.

“A temperature check is a very dubious tool for ID’ing those who have the virus; nevertheless, that temperature check is hygiene theater, if you will,” Sorenson said. “It’s communicating to folks we care about what you feel and want you to stop and think about if you’re having any symptoms, and we also want to communicate to you that you’re now entering a place in which we’ve got protocols in place to protect you and others in the environment.”

Marriott promoted keyless entry as a Covid technology while allowing hotels to defer its installation. Many of its hotels aren’t honoring elite benefits using the pandemic as an excuse. And they’ve laid off Ambassador agents who take care of their best customers. But temperature checks will save them!

Sorenson has previously been an enthusiastic supporter of a strong central Chinese government and its response to Covid-19. At Skift he again talks about their success in handling the virus and simply says that the country’s authoritarianism “is what it is.”

“China reacted with extraordinary power when the virus first appeared. They shut down the country, and when they shut down the country, they broke the curve of the virus in a way that probably hasn’t been done in other markets of the world,” Sorenson said. “We can all debate whether that’s the right thing or the wrong thing. It is what it is.”

Going ‘full Wuhan’ on the virus included welding Covid patients into their homes, which in some cases became tombs. And the virus likely had a far greater toll in China than has been reported with 40 times the number of cases than official statistics and tens of thousands of excess deaths likely attributable to the virus not included in China’s numbers.

Of course Marriott has a deep recent history cozying up to dictators. They failed to deflag the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia when the government there turned the hotel into a prison and torture site.

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. Sorensen may not be Mormon, but it’s the same old story with Marriott. They’ll claim the moral high ground at home and the church, but Marriott will lie, cheat, and steal for an extra buck.

  2. @Traggerat
    Indeed. “Lie, cheat and steal” is the guiding philosophy and mantra. The hucksters running the majority of US corporations would sell their grandmothers for sixpence. They throw in the smarmy and decidedly creepy fake religious claptrap free of charge.
    They will lobby Biden, furiously, to avoid recriminations against China, lest they lose $0.20 of shareholder value, and their bonuses. They’ll be lining up to become China-apologists. Just be thankful they weren’t around in the 1930s with investments in Germany.

  3. We can criticize, but is it our job to save the Chinese from their government? If so, how? We have our own pseudo-dictator who does whatever he wants, despite the will of the majority. Every country, and every international corporation, has their own way of doing business. Although we may believe that our way is the only way, that doesn’t always make it the right way.

  4. Keyless entry worked flawless at Hilton property last week. Line cook made to order omelettes, eggs pancakes for breakfast.
    COVID signs and Plexi – but no bank teller or inner city convenience store feeling.

    Keyless entry at Marriott property was finally working on the last day of our stay. Cold brown paper bag breakfast. Social distance dots in the elevator – 2 Pax max, COVID signage galore. Cold institutional feel. Plexicage for check in.

  5. THE Marriotts would not tolerate what Sorensen allows who only cares about the number of “doors” Quality gone, China of course Sorensen would sell his mother for a deal there. I grew up in DC and our family knew Willard and Bill on the business side sharp damn right ethical damn right. Micheal Marriott was the last Marriott working there. Let’s see how many properties really last this downturn I would say 20% less

  6. For better or worse, this is how global corporations have ALWAYS played. The only two things making it feel different in the internet age is that we can see and hear the machinations of it and that the explicit cash bribery, that allowed so much to go unsaid in the past, is now officially verboten. Don’t think for a minute though that any of this is new.

  7. What these hotels should be doing is to improve ventilation and air filtration systems, but the hotels prefer the health security theater dog and pony show of surface cleaning even when it’s quite clear that fomites aren’t a substantial means of this coronavirus spreading and even that vector of spread is best handled by doing what even little kids are taught: wash your hands properly with soapy warm water and don’t stick your fingers/hands into your mouths and nose.

    More hotel windows that can be opened and better ventilation and ventilation filters is what the hotels should be focusing on if they really cared to deliver on better protecting customers from getting bit by this coronavirus.

  8. Companies have social tendencies just like people do. And Marriot’s general approach is that of a sociopath. Everytime I deal with Marriot, I feel like I need to to take a shower afterwards.

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