Civil Rights And Hotel Porn, Ctd

Jul 13 2012 @ 9:16am

Readers push back on this post:

Is it possible one of the reasons Marriott is abandoning pay-per-view porn because it is not the revenue driver it once was due to the Internet? Most travelers pack a laptop, and Marriott and many other hotels charge for internet access. It might be a shift in revenue streams, rather than an act of economic altruism.

A more certain reader agrees and points to this article as evidence. Another:

I have to comment on the reader's dissent re: Marriott. He or she seems to have a bone to pick with the company and the information is not particularly accurate.  (Full disclosure: I'm a 30+ year Marriott employee – but not a Mormon.)  While I don't think the company is perfect, I could not have stuck with a company that I didn't respect for that long so my view may be skewed.

I started with Marriott working at the front desk in the late 1970s, when "adult entertainment" was available.  As a guest checked out and indicated they didn't watch a movie, my offer to locate the report that included the movie title resolved the issue many times.  The cost became immaterial to the guest quickly.  I wasn't privy to the angst this service might have caused the Marriott family, but I do know that it was overcome prior to my start date (rather than sometime between 1993 and 2000 as implied).   Nonetheless, every hotel Front Desk Manager and General Manager had to deal with complaints about it and the corporate office got them as well.

In the linked article in your post, the first sentence is "Marriott International, one of the nation's leading hotel groups, tells Hotel Check-In that it's pulling access to adult movies from the new hotel rooms it will be opening the next several years."  That says nothing about the existing rooms.  The Marriott statement in the article includes this sentence "As we transition to this new platform, adult content will be off the menu for virtually all of our newly built hotels. Over the next few years, this will be the policy across our system."  That is a far cry from removing all adult content before the 2012 election, and I fail to see how a multi-year transition would influence the 2012 election with a Mormon on the ballot.

On another note, many of the business decisions that the reader mentions span the life of two Marriott leaders.  Mr. Marriott Sr. started the company in 1927 (a nine-seat root beer stand in Washington DC) and grew the business into airline catering, restaurant chains and drive in restaurants.  Mr. Marriott Jr., his son, is credited with the push to expand into hotels (1957).  Mr. Marriott Sr. passed away in 1985 and the torch was passed to his son who is still the Chairman.  The family was and are practicing Mormons.  Anecdotally, I've heard that posed several challenges for them in the business world, not the least of which were serving alcohol (available when I began with the company) and casinos in the hotels in areas with gambling (with the exception of a property in Egypt, casinos came much later, perhaps in the 1990s).

1993 was a very troubled time for the company.  As your reader noted, the company split the two businesses (hotel management and real estate ownership) into Marriott International and Host Marriott Corp, respectively.  Hotel Management is labor intensive and Real Estate Ownership is capital intensive – diverse objectives.  Host Marriott Corp ultimately changed its name to Host Corp due to the expansion into ownership of properties managed by other brands (e.g. Westin, Four Seasons, W, Sheraton, Hyatt, etc.).  The Marriott family was and are heavily invested in both companies; Richard Marriott (J W Marriott Jr.'s brother) remains the Chairman of Host Corp.  Did the bond price go down on the announcement of the spin off?  I don't recall nor do I doubt that it did.  But the family did not abandon either business.  In the long run, both stocks have prospered and no bond holder/lender was left holding the bag to my knowledge.

There have been several spin offs over the years, not to mention the companies that have been bought and sold over the years (cruise lines, theme parks and the business lines previously mentioned).  You could make a case that some of those businesses were abandoned, but the segregation of the two core businesses in 1993 doesn't seem to fit that description. Last year, the timeshare division was spun into a new company.  The jury is out on how it will do independent of the parent but so far, so good. And to the last paragraph, yes, the in-room movies are profitable, but no business decisions are made based on the movie profit.  Movies would never be considered a "profit driver".

Finally, I am not authorized to be a company spoke(wo)man and have tried to ensure that the information I've provided is generic and publicly available.