Marriott CEO Admits Hotels are Engaging in 'Hygiene Theater,' Again Praises Totalitarian Measures

AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File
AP featured image
FILE – In this Jan. 11, 2018, file photo, Chinese and American flags fly outside of a JW Marriott hotel in Beijing. Politics weighs more heavily on foreign companies in China than it has in nearly three decades, as companies face pressure on many sides from Chinese President Xi Jinping’s more nationalistic stance and twin campaigns to tighten the ruling Communist Party’s political control and have it play a more direct role in business. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)


Speaking at this year’s Skift Global Forum, which has the theme of “Safeguarding Travel’s Future,” Marriott CEO Arne Sorensen discussed the health and safety protocols his company and others in the industry are implementing, which include mask mandates, hospital-grade disinfectants in public areas, contactless check-in, “grab-and-go” breakfasts and temperature checks, and admitted that for the most part, they’re “hygiene theater.”

“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.”

But, he said, this theater is necessary for guests to have confidence and start traveling again.

Further, he said critics should view the measures as a package deal rather than a standalone feature for their effectiveness. Business won’t build back unless guests have confidence, even if that is achieved through a little hygiene theater.

“Somebody explained this like Swiss cheese: If you’ve got one slice of Swiss cheese, you’ve got holes and can get through it,” Sorenson said. “But if you’ve got four or five slices of Swiss cheese stacked next to each other … Put it all together, it makes a substantive difference in safety, a provably reduced risk of the spread of the virus, and collectively engaged in a theater that tells us or reminds us all to be careful. By being careful, we’ve further reduced the real risk associated with it.”


That’s a terrible explanation. If a measure is irrelevant or dubious it doesn’t band together with other pieces of Swiss cheese to contribute to making a substantive difference in safety. Specifically, regarding temperature checks, the thermometers used aren’t precise in any way, and people can have a fever for a variety of reasons. The presence of a fever does not indicate the Wuhan flu or even necessarily a communicable disease. It could indicate an ear infection. Even if it indicates a communicable disease, so what? Prior to the pandemic panic, people who were infected with a communicable disease stayed in hotels every single day. Normal hygiene practices slow/stop the spread of communicable diseases.

To the extent that hotels are now making it a point to stick to hygiene/cleanliness standards they should have already been sticking to, the pandemic panic has been a good thing. When things finally begin returning to “normal” in the travel industry, hopefully hotels/resorts will retain some level of increased cleanliness at their properties (but we can ditch the masks and forced social distancing).

In his remarks, Sorenson continued fan-boying the CCP’s totalitarian response to coronavirus, ignoring the fact that Beijing initially ignored the scope of the virus and the worldwide threat it posed:


“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.”

They broke the curve of the virus? To “contain” the virus, the CCP welded people into their homes, according to a report in The Sun. And, as the travel blog View From the Wing pointed out, a RAND Corporation study estimates that China underreported its Wuhan coronavirus caseload “by a factor of 40” and that there are likely “tens of thousands” of deaths attributable to coronavirus not counted in China’s official numbers. They’ve lied about essentially everything having to do with coronavirus, but sure, Arne, “they broke the curve of the virus.” That an American CEO is parroting this propaganda to keep dollars flowing into his corporation is beyond sickening.


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