Marriott’s New Brand Standard That Should Have Never Been Necessary

What’s the saying, one bad actor spoils it for everyone else?  There are over 5,600 Marriott hotels in the US and Canada.  There may be more than one bad apple, but only one hotel that recently made news for charging guests a 2% convenience fee to use a credit card.  I recall reading the original story and thinking how absurd it was.  I spent a number of years in the hotel industry.  We hated taking cash.  It was a necessary evil, but caused all sorts of problems.  Cash creates opportunities for theft, especially when considering the virtual 24-hour operation of a hotel.  One person at a hotel front desk late at night with a box full of cash, waiting for someone to show up and rob them?  No, thanks.  And, multiple cash tills opens up all kinds of opportunities for cash to disappear in an untrustworthy employee’s pocket.  During 30+ years in the hospitality industry, I’ve frequently been heard muttering that I’d get rid of cash completely if customers would be okay with it.

This doesn’t even take into account the obvious point that guests don’t want to carry around large wads of cash.  And, check fraud is more painful than credit card fraud, since credit card fraud charges generally get wiped away quickly.  This is pretty much just a cash grab by the hotel, since they don’t expect many customers to notice.  And, the ones that do notice likely don’t have a choice.

Marriott International sure as heck doesn’t want a fee for credit card transactions at their hotels.  They earn millions of dollars per year from the sale of Bonvoy points to their credit card partners, American Express and Chase. And, while the hotels are mostly franchised and don’t get direct payment for the sale of those points, they do enjoy the value of those points.  After all, Marriott pays them for award redemptions when customers cash in their points for an award stay.  A particular hotel might not agree with the level of compensation they receive for that award room, but they are benefiting from the sale of those points.

The Marriott Brand Standard I Wish They Didn’t Need

Marriott seems to agree with some (or all) of this logic and has announced a new brand standard.  They’ve said it’s not okay to charge guests a fee in the US and Canada to use a credit card to pay their bill.  It’s important to note that this doesn’t prevent a hotel from charging the fee.  They may face repercussions from Marriott for doing so, but that will likely be after the fact.  Still, I’m glad to see Marriott attempt to put some teeth into this standard.

At the end of the day, this is the policy they should never have to write.  It’s not like there were dozens of hotels in the US charging this fee.  I’d be surprised if there were even a dozen out of 5,600+.  Because, in the end, hotels don’t want to train customers to use other payment methods.  This was an example of one hotel that thought they could raise rates by 2% without anyone really knowing.

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