You Must Have Been Really Bad To Hotel Workers Because Marriott LAX Raised Their ‘Worker Protection Surcharge’ 29%

In the fall two Marriott hotels near Los Angeles International Airport started charging an add-on fee for protecting employees.

The LA City Council started requiring hotels to provide employees with panic buttons for their safety at work, mostly in case they’re attacked by a guest. So these hotels are literally charging you a fee to protect workers from you.

  • The Marriott LAX and Renaissance LAX hotels do not believe the safety of their employees is their responsibility. It’s something you have to pay for, in addition to the price of your room.

  • And it’s something you have to pay the hotel to do, since they appear to be charging more than it costs them. In other words, it’s a junk fee designed for deception, to extract more money from guests. It’s a destination fee by another name, but without any benefit to the guest.

When the Marriott LAX rolled out this extra charge it was $10.72 per night. Two months later they’ve already increased the fee to $13.87 per night – a 29% increase. (HT: Howard F)

Please note – A daily Hotel Worker Protection Ordinance Costs Surcharge-local fee of USD 13.87 plus taxes will be added to the room rate.

At 1004 rooms, this hotel has the potential to generate $5,082,800 per year with their new Worker Protection charge. They aren’t required to spend the money on worker protection (indeed they won’t). Even at 80% occupancy that’s $4 million a year, most of which goes to the hotel’s bottom-line.

Why does Marriott allow this? I suspect that this fee isn’t actually permitted under Marriott’s rules (whether or not they’re enforced). To charge a resort or destination fee a Marriott hotel must:

  • have an above-average intent to recommend score and offer benefits to the customer in exchange “with a retail value that is at least four times greater than the destination or resort fee charged.”

  • Pay an an application fee to Marriott (e.g. $1500 plus $550 per year after approval).
  • If Marriott’s restrictions has any meaning, a hotel can’t just call an add-on fee something else.

    Nonetheless, guests are the product not the customer, hotels do as they please, or at least have learned to test boundaries since Marriott has been degrading its brand to keep owners happy. Owners free ride on the Marriott name while not contributing to preserve it, and they’ve more or less gotten away with this since the Starwood acquisition in order to keep them in the fold and paying fees. So they think they can get away with most things at this point, whether Marriott ultimately pushes back on this specific charge or not.

    Ultimately this is bad for Marriott, because they’ll only be able to earn these fees as long as the brand has value. And it’s bad for Marriott hotels generally because it reduces their differentiation with Airbnb and makes them less competitive. But in the short run it benefits individual hotel properties that appear to offer cheaper rooms when a customer is searching, and because some consumers may not realize how much they’re going to have to pay.

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