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.