Marriott International has been a big fish in the hotel industry for decades. The company is synonymous with comfort, luxury, and impeccable service. However, Marriott has faced a growing list of issues over the past few years.

These issues have shaken the company’s once-stable reputation. From ethical controversies and legal battles, Marriott now finds itself needing to confront a complex web of issues that threaten its well-established stand in the industry.

However, with all the public outrage, it can be tricky trying to navigate what has happened. We’ve detailed why Marriott International is now in troubled waters to help provide clarity to those who are in the dark.

Unsettled Allegations and Legal Issues

The center of Marriott is legal battles and unsettled allegations that range from breaches of contract to financial improprieties. These legal confrontations have highlighted the company’s operations and have led to many questions being asked about how it conducts business.

One of the most high-profile legal battles involving Marriott comes from a criminal investigation in Poland. During the case, the Warsaw District Attorney’s office made accusations of unethical behavior and financial embezzlement.

If this Marriott criminal investigation comes back with a guilty result, the company’s public image will forever be tarnished.

Ethical Controversies

Besides the legal battles, Marriott’s troubles spread to ethical matters. Marriott’s business practices have been questioned, and ethical controversies have been brought into the conversation, with many industry insiders scrutinizing the company.

Questions about the company’s commitment to corporate responsibility and transparency have been raised. This was after accusations surfaced of Marriott ignoring maintenance requests while exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to avoid responsibilities.

There have also been allegations surrounding Marriott’s questionable accounting practices, which have further tarnished the company’s trustworthy reputation.

Lack of Transparency

Transparency is one of the most important factors in building trust with customers. However, Marriott has been criticized for the company’s perceived lack of transparency in various aspects of its operations.

Customers have accused the company of hidden fees and surprises in pricing. Critics have also spoken out about misleading advertising and promotion where some unclear terms and conditions seem to favor the company over its customers.

This lack of transparency in company operations has significantly contributed to the company’s decreasing popularity and public image.

An Eroding Public Image

It’s no secret that the hospitality industry is all about the trust and reputation between hotels and customers. The ethical accusations, legal battles, and criminal investigations pose a threat to the brand’s long-standing reputation.

Marriott was accused of financial improprieties, unethical behavior, and deceptive pricing practices, which has caused customer loyalty and the brand’s image to quickly erode.

Competition is fierce, which is why maintaining a good reputation is paramount. However, Marriott has tried to sustain this image in an unethical way through many instances of whitewashing.

Data Breaches

The modern world has meant that data security is paramount to a company’s reputation. Marriott has experienced data breaches that have exposed customer information. One of the most notable examples of these data breaches was in 2018 when the company revealed that its Starwood reservation system had been compromised.

This had the potential to expose up to 500 million customers’ data. Response to data breaches is vital in shaping public perception, and this is something Marriott fails to do, which only worsens public relations.

Lack of Accountability

Marriott has been accused of not taking accountability for its improper operations. This lack of accountability has only made the company’s public perception even worse. One example is Marriott’s response to customer complaints about misleading advertising and hidden fees.

Many customers have reported that they felt deceived by hidden chargers that weren’t properly communicated while they were booking their accommodation. These hidden charges include facility charges, resort fees, and other add-ons, which lead to unexpected expenses for customers.

When customers brought these considerations to Marriott’s attention, the company was described as being unresponsive and dismissive. This lack of accountability only adds to customer frustration and communicates the idea that Marriott prioritizes profit over customer satisfaction. 

Alleged Exploitative Practices

Reports have come out of Marriott allegedly exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic. One concern raised in this regard is the issue of contractual obligations. The pandemic disrupted travel plans, which led to widespread cancellations.

Many companies worked to accommodate these disrupted travel plans by offering rescheduling options, refunds, and other forms of financial relief. However, reports were released that highlighted Marriott’s lack of flexibility when it came to pandemic-related cancellations.

Customers struggled to get their money back for prepaid reservations. That’s because Marriott reportedly enforced strict cancellation policies. This was even when cancellations were out of the customer’s control.

These alleged exploitative practices only contribute to Marriott’s negative image as a company eager to exploit a crisis for its own profit rather than showing solidarity and empathy with its partners and customers during unknown times.

Wrapping It Up

The multifaceted challenges Marriott International faces have only contributed to the negative sentiment and public perception. Even though the company’s influence and reach within the hospitality industry are undeniable, it’s also clear that this authority doesn’t make them immune to the public backlash when operations are run unethically.

The lack of transparency is a common theme in Marriott International’s public interactions. Whether it’s data breaches, unclear terms and conditions, or hidden fees, the open and honest communication between Marriott and its customer has now come into question.

Criminal investigations are the most serious challenges faced by Marriott, which could easily be the nail in the company’s coffin if a guilty result is returned. Nonetheless, the reach this hotel has over the industry is incredibly powerful and has been for decades.

These pressing accusations are not limited to only Marriott. A full reevaluation needs to be done on the entire hospitality industry to make sure these hotels are not following Marriott’s unethical and problematic ways.

A new awareness of the hotel industry means that customers aren’t going to accept the same treatment they once did. Hotels that don’t conform to this and align with customer values will soon find themselves in the same position as Marriott – or worse.