Properties / Hotels

Where’s My Desk? Business Travelers Blast Marriot

The online vitriol is growing more caustic after the Marriott hotel chain began taking out in-room desks as part of a plan aimed at pleasing Millennials.

Jan 15, 2016 | By null

Desks are standard fare in most large hotel chains, especially those catering to fussy business travelers. It seems though its days, along with the in-room phone, are numbered but a recent move in this direction by the Marriot chain has provoked a strong backlash. If you are like the chap pictured in the above stock image (courtesy of the AFP), then you probably can’t see what the fuss is about but your habits have disturbed the calm of the Internet.

The online vitriol is growing more caustic, in fact, after the Marriott hotel chain began taking out in-room desks as part of a larger redesign plan aimed at pleasing Millennials. This article will be joining an ever-growing chorus, for example…

One of the most widely-quoted online complaints can be traced back to sports journalist Dan Wetzel, who penned a scathing blog post in December entitled “Who stole the desk from my hotel room?” after his stay at the City Center Marriott in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Upon inquiring at the front desk, Wetzel was told that the move to create desk-less rooms is part of a chain-wide redesign to appeal to Millennials who, apparently, don’t use desks but prefer to “hang out.”

“Questions mounted. How does a poor, humble desk stuffed in the corner prevent someone from hanging out on his or her phone in the room?” he wrote.

“What has a desk ever done to offend Millennials? Is there an anti-desk lobby out there? Is this somehow about ‘safe spaces’?”

Indeed, as part of the chain’s Marriott Modern plan, desks are being removed at select properties in exchange for “modular furniture” to reflect the way “NextGen travelers live, relax and work.”

But what about the way business travelers live and work? That’s the overriding question being asked by many guests who are slowly discovering the new changes and taking their beef online.

Over on TripAdvisor, a guest staying at the Calgary Marriott Downtown Hotel on a business trip likewise complained of the inadequate work surface, with the traditional desk replaced by a small cocktail table.

“I recognize the need to attract a young traveler (hence the ‘edgy’ nature of the hotel, I assume),” wrote PatonMarco from Florida.

“It would be a pity to neglect the business travelers who have made the Marriott brand the recognized leader in comfortable accommodations for business travel.”

While Marriott is bearing much of the backlash, desk-less rooms are being rolled out industry-wide.

Holiday Inn Express, for instance, is playing with wall-mounted shelves and mobile desks that can be pulled up to the bed, while The Westin brand is replacing the traditional desk and chair with a smaller desk, movable side table, sofa and ottoman, pointed out The New York Times last fall.

In recent years, the traditional hotel room has evolved to respond to modern needs, putting amenities like the mini-bar, in-room phone, the front desk and even key cards at the risk of extinction.

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