Marriott’s Green Program: short-term cuts, long-term problems

“People are the heart and soul of the hotel industry,” says the American Hotel and Lodging Association, but Marriott’s Green Program is a debit against its human capital account. Host Hotels & Resorts recently told investors that Marriott’s so-called ‘Green Choice’ programs are “positively impacting expenses,” but these programs have a damaging impact on hotel housekeepers:

  • Housekeepers say Green Choice rooms are harder to clean and are dirtier than rooms that are cleaned daily.
  • Because the rooms are so dirty, housekeepers report using larger quantities of hazardous chemicals. These products may “cause damage to eyes,” “cause severe irritation to skin,” and “irritate throat and respiratory system.”

  • The Green Choice program has been in practice longer at legacy Starwood hotels. An analysis of 23 legacy Starwood hotels over 9 cities shows that Legacy Starwood hotels had a 49% increase in the number of injuries between 2013 and 2017.
  • A survey of one hotel found 91% of housekeepers with lower seniority have been left off the schedule or lost hours as a result of Green Choice.

Many Marriott hotels have programs that encourage guests to decline housekeeping services. In 2016 Marriott purchased Starwood Hotels and Resorts, owner of the Westin, Sheraton, and W hotel chains. Starwood branded its deferred rooms cleaning program as “Green Choice”, citing its purported environmental benefits. Marriott now uses a similar “Your Choice” program at many of its legacy properties, including Marriott and Renaissance brands.

These programs save money for Marriott and hotel owners. Host Hotels & Resorts, the largest owner of Marriott hotels, told investors “we continue to see benefits from Marriott’s implementation of Make a Green Choice…” and “sustainability initiatives that provide guests with the option to forgo housekeeping services in exchange for reward points, like Marriott’s Your Room Your Choice, and Starwood’s Make a Green Choice program are also positively impacting expenses.”

Both Your Choice and Green Choice programs reward guests with vouchers and loyalty points for turning away housekeeping services they have already paid for. These programs save money for Marriott but often have a damaging impact on hotel housekeepers.

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