Why Full Service Falls Short: The Decline of Hospitality at Marriott And Other Hotels

The Detroit Metro Airport Marriott sees a lot of distressed passengers stuck overnight, like any airport hotel would. Often they’re without luggage. One reader shared a story of what interacting with this hotel is like, when needing a bit of help.

  • The reader didn’t have their deodorant or mouthwash. The hotel has this! And, he says, they wanted $12. For each item.

  • Ok, the hotel has a shuttle and they’ll take you anywhere you want within a mile. So he asked to go to the nearest drugstore where he’d pick up the things he needed. But they told him that was… 1.1 miles away.

He felt.. unwelcome. And he moved to a Hyatt Place, where they gave him “a whole set of toiletries for free.” This is a benefit that Hyatt has advertised for years.

I literally just wrote three weeks ago about Marriott hotels nickel and diming guests instead of showing hospitality.

If a $23,000+ per year customer (a Marriott Ambassador, say) has their flight cancelled and their luggage lost and they show up without deodorant or a toothbrush the hotel will point to where they can buy these travel-sized items rather than taking care of their guest.

Need I mention that the reader checking into the Detroit Metro Airport Marriott was a Bonvoy Ambassador member? What does Ambassador status even mean, if you’re not a guest made to feel cared for when having a bad day and all you need is some deodorant?

And the Detroit Airport Marriott is supposedly a full service hotel. What’s the point of a full service hotel if it doesn’t offer amenities that guests are uniquely likely to need when they arrive?

My point isn’t to rail against this specific hotel. I’ve seen it at a lot of hotels, and especially much more at Marriotts recently. Hyatt does this benefit, to be sure, but in general hotels have forgotten that they are in the hospitality business and that risks any sort of revenue premium they earn over limited service properties, and any choice preference customers have over short-term rentals.

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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  1. Just like IHG removing BARS OF SOAP from all brands because there’s a nominal savings to have liquid hand wash.

    Before Marriott acquired Starwood, Westin and Sheraton properties had mouthwash, vanity kits, shaving kits, and a shoe mint in every room. Sheraton even had loofahs or whatever they’re called in rooms.

    Before the pandemic, when Marriott dropped individual toiletries, they used to provide two bars of soap. One at the sink and one in the bathtub. Now you get one bar of soap.

    I also remember when Marriott provided mouthwash, slippers, a robe, and newspapers at every flagship Marriott brand property. Newspapers were also pretty much available at EVERY Marriott brand. Every day.

  2. @ Gary — Once, I asked at a Hyatt where I could go to purchase some contact lens solution. I was shocked when they had it available at the hotel for FREE. That was an incredible time and stress saver. I always return to this hotel when in the area.

  3. “Hyatt Has It” is such a little program in the scheme of things, but it’s one of the key reasons why I’m loyal to Hyatt

    It’s an incredibly easy and cheap way for them to get goodwill from guests

  4. Gary-this unacceptable behavior is an American thing. I just returned from a trip in Australia and stayed at the Marriott Sydney and Marriott Melbourne as well as Hilton in Cairns. Service was great. Housekeeping every day as well as all the amenities Marriott used to be known for. At the Hilton in Cairns, I was even given access to the lounge. It was a breath of fresh air. Sad that this crappy service is what American properties have been reduced to. It’s just plain greed.

  5. I’m glad my job has changed from one where travel was a regular necessity to one where it’s not. The little kindnesses offered by the various providers are what brought me back. That all seems gone now, to the point where they even try and weasel out of their commitments. United was to offer a free bag due to my credit card membership but decided since my Chase MileagePlus card is a Mastercard instead of a Visa (something over which I had no control) the free bag benefit does not apply (even though it’s advertised as a benefit). When I asked for a small extension of my Marriott certificate from 3/8 to 3/29 so that I could use my free night (I didn’t realize it had to use it before it expired, as I’ve always used it during the window, but was instead trying to book a stay before it expired) I was flatly rejected without so much as a phony expression of regret. Just, “that’s the policy, there are no exceptions, click.”

    Why be loyal to a specific carrier or hotel brand if they make no effort to at least pretend to appreciate your business? Granted, I’m no longer spending 200 nights a year on the road or dropping my card for last-minute international first class trips, but I do influence the travel decisions for my team. And, I remember which properties care.

  6. I have earned platinum status with Marriott/Bonvoy for the past ten years. The service (aka. Hospitality) has diminished so greatly over the past five years that loyalty has become worthless. For example, I recently stayed stayed at a Fairfield Inn off of 95. I learned that they have now reduced the in-room coffee maker to a supply of 1 caffeinated and 1 decaffeinated. It has always been 2 of each. What if a couple were staying the night? Would they have to fight over who was getting caffeine? I know it’s a small petty thing, but it is just one of countless ways Marriott has squeezed the value and hospitality out of its brand. I now have a large number of Best Western reservations pending…at least they seem to try – and you get what you pay for. I just don’t care about status anymore, it is worth almost nothing.

  7. The big question regarding service delivery and general behaviors at many properties, is this the result of the brand or the actual local ownership?
    Gary, I would love to see you tackle this aspect. I would argue that the changes in the ways that hotels in the US treat their customers has everything to do with hotel ownership. In the last decade or so the ownership of many low and mid level hotels has changed and in a way where the customer is no longer valued.

  8. AMEN on the decline of full service hotels.

    Though I agree on the “Hyatt has it” program, Hyatt is not immune. I recently had a stay at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay. Between room service being a paper bag full of food wrapped in disposable containers, a closed Grand Club, non-daily housekeeping, and other reductions, that property is now basically a prettier and more expensive version of a Hyatt Place.

  9. This is why I love staying at the Japanese hotels. They are incredible compared to anything in the US. I stay several times a year at the Keio Plaza in Shinjuku. 4 star hotel. There will be a pyramid of soap bars, multiple bottles of lotions and shampoos, combs, razors and at least 5 coffees (the filters that hang over the cup). If you use one of anything it’s replaced.

  10. This is not just about companies cutting costs and the predictable corporate greed trope. It’s about employees that are so entitled that they think the company is lucky for them to just show up. I wouldn’t be shocked if the checkin counter has a tip jar. As service culture in the US declines rapidly, tipping culture has exploded. It’s not a coincidence. People will only give minimal effort if bribed, and forget about taking pride in actually doing a good job. Hospitality companies should do mandatory trainings in Japan.

  11. @BRMM: How does a Grand Hyatt in 2024 get away without daily housekeeping? It’s a Hyatt requirement.

  12. Nickel and diming the customer has been prevalent in the US with the US companies’ mindset of cutting corners to boost profit. As well as letting go of staff, or not paying the best wages to attract the best employees. That’s why I prefer to use full-service hotels in other countries, where “full service” means full service.

    It’s the same thing with United flights too. Anything less than business class flight is treated at most a basic bus ride in the sky. Worse if your flight leaves in the afternoon or one of those multiple delayed ones, you will not get anything other than water in the plane. Which is why I don’t bother to fly domestically anymore, much prefer to spend my money on international (long distance) flights

  13. @David P: It is a combination of big chains reducing brand standards to cut costs and keep big owners and management companies flying their flag. It’s also a reflection of cheap owners cheating or playing loose with brand standards. I’m told Marriott only recently started imposing the pre-pandemic audit/quality control inspections. So that’s basically three or four years of no meaningful enforcement. You also just have bad management companies. Most franchisees don’t manage their own hotel. They hire an Aimbridge or Remington to operate the hotel. There’s a reason why these companies are cheaper than Marriott corporate to hire to operate a property. They cut costs. Aimbridge is notorious for saving money by not doing maintenance.

  14. Outside luxury results and some downtown markets, I don’t even know how the economics of a full-service hotel work anymore. Owners can make more money with a Courtyard, Fairfield, Holiday Inn Express, or Hyatt Place than they can with a Marriott, Westin, Crowne Plaza/Kimpton, and Hyatt Regency. So many downtown city centers have never recovered from covid. I was in Houston last week. Downtown was busy Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday but completely empty Monday and Friday. How do you operate a full-service hotel in that environment? Same for the suburban office park hotels. Even if you can find and pay staff to provide all the services and amenities someone expects at a full-service hotel, I doubt you can keep your occupancy at a level to make money.

  15. Marriott is the pinnacle of how hospitality should not be. Started with SPG ended up in Marriott. It went from familiar and family oriented feeling. To stupid pencil pushes”accountants” who have no idea how to work. Get them doing house keeping before a month before taking the paying guest for a ride. Get that Marriott we are paying you! not the other way around.

  16. Dave P. has a great point. It may certainly be the actions of a franchisee or third-party management company. And yet you generalize anecdotal experience to all hotels from a parent company. Marriott has 7,000+ hotels, all they experiencing reduced service quality?

  17. “It is a combination of big chains reducing brand standards to cut costs and keep big owners and management companies flying their flag. It’s also a reflection of cheap owners cheating or playing loose with brand standards.”

    Parent brands love standards because it helps their top line, but the franchisee is always trying to sabotage those standards because it helps their bottom line and that’s what will always carry the day. It’s a myth that chains have greatly reduced standards, it’s more like the parent brands have become so large as to be impossible to manage their entire portfolios. Too many people think that the parent brand is some type of all knowing-omnipotent being and they very much are not. If the parent brand only has boots on the ground at each property one day a year, how are they supposed to know what goes on the rest of the year? 95+ percent of guests never fill out a survey and if so few people do, it very much skews what is really going on, but that’s how the system is designed…. by the parent company who wants to know, when it’s convenient.

    “As well as letting go of staff, or not paying the best wages to attract the best employees.”

    The part about the wages is nothing new. The hospitality industry has a loooong history of treating employees disposably. Low pay, last minute scheduling and little to no benefits. No one cares about attracting the best, just the next person with a pulse on the employment carousel. The entire industry is comprised of lifers or a never ending carousel of greenhorns who get a taste of it, get jaded really quick and leave.

    “It’s about employees that are so entitled that they think the company is lucky for them to just show up.”

    Not even close to the truth.

    “The big question regarding service delivery and general behaviors at many properties, is this the result of the brand or the actual local ownership?”

    It’s a combination of both. The parent company usually takes a very hands off approach to everything because at the end of the day, they don’t own the hotel, XYZ franchisee does. So that sets up a scenario where the parent brand can give standards/guidance/best practices as to how they want things done, but the franchisee decides how many FTEs the hotel will have, what the pay rates will be, will they drug test or background check, what will be in the handbook (parent company has no clue or influence over any of this) and all of that together is what determines what services/amenities/hours things are offered and how they will be delivered. Some franchisees/management companies care more than others but overall, usually expect the worst since owners & management companies have entire portfolios across all the major and minor parent brands under the same roof.

  18. For starters, I’m a pilot. I used to look forward to a quiet evening on the road. When everything shut down for Covid, I didn’t as we were labeled essential workers. There were nights we were the only people in the hotel. Quality, staff and service understandably went downhill…the problem is, it has stayed there. All brands!
    I switched Jan 2024 from Hilton as a longstanding diamond member to Marriott due to my sense of a lack of appreciation everytime I checked in or out. Unfortunately , Marriott hasn’t proved any different. It’s all the same.
    Early and late checkouts near impossible due to reduced staff, $15 for a breakfast half what it used to be, room cleaning every 2nd or 3rd day unless requested. Large bottles of soap and shampoo sometimes empty, and then you’re out of luck.
    Hotels are awful.

  19. Just returned from Richmond VA Marriott that was also hosting several teams of soccer players for a local tournament. Hotel staff seemed overwhelmed with the kids splayed across the floors, parents cleaning out breakfast bar and coffee urns and a noise level that was absurd. Staff seemed afraid to address issues for fear of repercussions. Parking garage was a mess with their after game trash everwhere.

  20. Ah yes, DTW. I left IHG years ago (spire at the time) because of a cancelled flight. Confirmed room. Staff didn’t care, sold out – blamed it on the computer. No walk; no help; no nothing. Never stepped another foot into an IHG hotel – probably 700 nights ago.

  21. I avoid Marriott like the plague for this reason, despite lifetime platinum status. I will go across town to stay at a Hyatt if I have to.

  22. Ive stayed in mostly hilton properties, mainly all over florida, and I will say that they have always been hospitable and they have delivered anytime I needed something.

  23. Here’s the current state of Ambassador “service”. Email my Ambassador and she’s always out of office, as was the case yesterday when I asked for the recipe of a dish at the JW in Costa Rica that we really enjoyed. No problem I get a response from the “24 hour “ Ambassador team: “We’ll contact the hotel fur you!”. Next day I get a RECEIPT for the meal we enjoyed, not the RECIPE! No problem..now I have an email contact at the ihotel so intake care of the email myself and get the recipe. THANKS Ambassador Team for getting me …an email contact…

    This is the “meaningful investment “ in the Ambassador program Marriott promised!

  24. In the US Marriott loyalty SUCKS, you get nothing from Marriott, you almost wonder why bother. I stayed at the Jacksonville Marriott, no lounge and they were going to charge me for breakfast, but since lounge was closed breakfast was free. Sadly, I would have preferred to eat at McDonalds, it was so bad. Overseas, they treat you very well, throughout Asia, your loyalty gets you upgrades, lounge access, breakfast, parking , etc. it’s sad what a pathetic service Marriott provides in the US

  25. I knew it was all over when Marriott bought Starwood. Til then I was a loyal Starwood member because Starwood really knew how to take care of its customers. Hyatt still outperforms and love staying there. They are very fair with the redemption rates for awards. Not Marriott. Marriott and Delta alike are made for each other, with sky high redemption rates and trying to eek out the last dollar out of you. It’s the disgusting American capitalism epidemic. Too bad the Marriotts in the US give a bad name to the other Marriotts in other countries.

  26. Marriott is already circling the drain so why would they even consider offering toiletries?! They’ll be charging for toilet seats before long. Hospitality flushed!

  27. I know it’s a generalization, but i find Marriotts provide a lot better service when you aren’t in the USA.

    I love the JW in Mexico City for going the extra distance.

  28. Here’s my life-saving pro tip for stranded and smelly DTW passengers stuck overnight at the Detroit Metro Airport Marriott without deodorant or mouthwash.

    If you want to outsmart the system and save some cash, avoiding the Detroit Metro Airport Marriott’s steep $24 price tag for deodorant and mouthwash, here’s my ingenious solution. Because the DTW Airport Marriott management is stingy, their shuttle service will transport you anywhere within a mile. Still, it will not accommodate valued guests an inch further, so request a drop-off at the sidewalk next to the nearest drugstore, precisely one mile away. From there, it’s just a 528-foot walk across the parking lot to the drug store entry.

    Tell the shuttle driver you will call the DTW Airport Marriott when you are ready for a pickup at your drop-off location. On your return to the DTW Airport Marriott, tell the other upset guests in the lobby to take advantage of the complimentary shuttle service for a three-minute trip to the drugstore.

  29. Regarding these points:

    The reader didn’t have their deodorant or mouthwash. The hotel has this! And, he says, they wanted $12. For each item.

    Hotel is probably assuming that most people will have this reimbursed by airline or credit card trip delay claim so taking advantage of profiting from it.

    Ok, the hotel has a shuttle and they’ll take you anywhere you want within a mile. So he asked to go to the nearest drugstore where he’d pick up the things he needed. But they told him that was… 1.1 miles away.

    He could have just asked to be dropped at a point exactly 1 mile away and walked the extra .1 mile

  30. Having worked in the hotel business for most of the last 30 years, I can tell you that the rise of management companies, who often have several major brands than they manage, is 90% the cause of this. It is profit over everything. Long term cost be damned. I have worked for several of them and they are just awful – they will cut costs, small or large wherever they can get away with it. Not to mention offering health insurance to employees that obscenely expensive and nearly worthless. Vacation and sick time is a joke.

  31. Why would anyone waste time and money chasing hotel status? I went FA a long time ago and can’t tell any difference in my experience. Have been top tier on IHG and Hilton in past and mid tier on Marriott and Hyatt. Now I just book based on convenience, price and cleanliness/condition of property. Don’t even have my loyalty program numbers in my Apple wallet anymore.

  32. Too big to fail.

    Part of the problem is one part of the rationale that Marriott used to justify the acquisition of Starwood: they would be so big that people would find it hard to “book around” them… that included the booking engines that would have to carry them and the guests who would have to stay because there were many fewer alternatives.

    They avoided anti-trust regulation, but they’re big enough now that it’s hard to compete against the scale, and they think they can do whatever they want & not have to care.

  33. I recently stayed at a JW Marriott, I’m a platinum elite member. I stayed at this hotel before traveling to another destination for a few days. We left a check in luggage, but when we returned they told us that they had lost our luggage. They supposedly had given it to another guest by mistake, and until today I have not gotten it back yet.

    We also thought that it was odd that there were signs that “encouraged” us to reuse the towels and to hang them to dry. No soaps, just watered down gels on the showers.

    Even though we stayed in one of their suites in the “elite” floor, no breakfast was included and barely enough for one cup of coffee pod each (2). I must say that we had better service at the Grand Hyatt where the executive lounge was far better stocked; better hours, and service; and breakfast was included. New fresh towels everyday.

    I’ve been a loyal Marriott/Bonvoy customer por many years, but after reading all these posts here, I’ll be rethinking my future hotel stays

  34. Seriously, what a bunch of whiners with these comments. Lifetime Titanium here with 2000 stays. I get treated very well at Marriott and am grateful. Have traveled the world and some properties are different everywhere as stated but to base a stay on a bar of soap? When you’re nice to people you kindness in return.

  35. Service has decline to the bare minimum when hotels cut back during corona hysteria. Now they are just padding their bottom line. Stayed at a Fairmont last week in Houston for 5 days. Didn’t see room service once.

    You get get toiletries at a basic HEI for free.

  36. I’m fortunate that the Fairfield by Marriott that I stay at most frequently, in Watertown NY, is incredible. Warm and welcoming staff, attentive housekeeping, yummy cookies every afternoon and never an issue providing necessities at no charge.

  37. This is the reason after having been premium member with Hilton, Marriott, IHG, Accor, I no longer use their hotels. Now I make an effort to book a hotel which is not part of any of these brands. A bit hard to find them in the US, but much easier abroad. That’s where real customer service is now. Loyalty programs are now rubbish.

  38. I want to clear some misconceptions about removal of the soap bar for the savings. All the hotels has to do the same. This is not done by hotel owners or managers, it is required by many states health department to use bulk amenities to reduce waste. As a owner, I know that we are paying more for the bulk items and having guests dissatisfaction in some cases.
    Your reader should try out midscale hotels with free breakfast, amenities including services with smile.

  39. I want to clear some misconceptions about removal of the soap bar for the savings. All the hotels has to do the same. This is not done by hotel owners or managers, it is required by many states health department to use bulk amenities to reduce waste. As a owner, I know that we are paying more for the bulk items and having guests dissatisfaction and wrong perceptions in some cases..

  40. @Pravin Patel – this is false. 3 states is not many, and they do not generally require bulk amenities they ban single use plastics. California and Washington State are totally fine with hotels offering single use biodegradable packaging.

  41. To “Luke” who said to ride the comp shuttle bus and get out and walk the last .1 mile to the drug store: what if you are disabled, use a scooter, had a recent knee/hip replacement and are unable to “just walk”? How about the hotel demonstrating understanding, kindness and hospitality to a guest in need?

  42. It’s that specific Marriott. I’ve never experienced that in any Marriott worldwide. ORD, SFO, Tokyo, London, all awesome service. Detroit is Detroit.

  43. I find that if you call the front desk, they have all the things that are lacking and will deliver to the room. Deodorant, slippers, soap, bathrobe, coffee, toothpaste, shaving kit, you just have to tip the delivery person.

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