Concerns over Marriott listing Taiwan as part of China at two Taiwanese Four Points by Sheraton properties have led to the announced dissolution of one of the hotel’s franchise agreements with Marriott. While the loss of the brand has not yet received much coverage in the US, multiple Chinese language outlets have picked up the story (see below).
Readers of Marriott China Observer may recall that in January 2018 Marriott sent an email survey to Chinese customers which listed Taiwan, Tibet, Hong Kong as separate countries, an act which galvanized Chinese public opinion and led Chinese government regulators to temporarily shut down Marriott’s website and apps.
We asked at the time whether Marriott had the cultural competency to manage conflicting demands from the US and China. The loss of this franchised property agreement can be viewed as a casualty in Marriott’s failure to navigate an increasingly complex global landscape.
At the end of July, the Four Points by Sheraton Linkou opened in New Taipei City, but quickly engendered controversy from Taiwan residents over the labeling of Taiwan as part of China. A Taiwanese Facebook user posted a screenshot from the hotel’s Wi-Fi connection screen showing Taiwan as “Taiwan, China” with a red five-star-flag of China next to it. [i] The hotel’s rating on Facebook and Google subsequently dropped to 1.1 stars. Taiwan News reported that the hotel responded that it “is directly under the management of Marriott International and all foreign language content must comply with brand specifications and cannot be changed at their own discretion.”[ii]
On August 16th, 2018, the Four Points by Sheraton Taipei Zhonghe property announced that it would terminate its franchise agreement in a front-page advertisement in local newspaper the Liberty Times. On the simplified Chinese version of the Zhonghe property’s website, the country had been listed as “Taiwan, China”; on the traditional Chinese version of the website, it was listed as simply “Taiwan.”[iii] A spokeswoman for the hotel told a reporter from Agence France-Presse that its name will now be changed and it will no longer take reservations from Marriott’s booking system.[iv] As of August 16th, the hotel was not listed on Starwood Hotels website when searching for Taiwan hotels.[v]
Further news articles on this developing story
Four Points by Sheraton Linkou controversy
“万豪旗下酒店跟进更改涉台标注 台网友刷Wifi发现“中国台湾”和五星红旗” – Huanqiu, 8/9/18
“万豪酒店改涉台标注 显示为“中国台湾”和五星红旗” – iFeng, 8/9/18
“万豪旗下酒店改涉台标注，登录页面变“中国台湾”和五星红旗” – Thepaper.cn, 8/9/18
“台网友发现万豪酒店Wifi现“中国台湾”和五星红旗” – China News, 8/10/18
“New Taipei Sheraton hotel Wi-Fi screen posts flag of communist China next to Taiwan” – Taiwan News, 8/10/18
Four Points by Sheraton Taipei Zhonghe contract termination
“Taiwan hotel axes Marriott contract over China naming row” – Channel News Asia (AFP), 8/16/18
“Hotel drops Marriott for caving in to China” – Taipei Times, 8/16/18
“抗議萬豪強冠「中國台灣」中和福朋喜來登即起解約” – Liberty Times, 8/16/18
“中和福朋喜來登挺台灣！更名解約損失逾千萬在所不惜” – Liberty Times, 8/16/18
“不只中和福朋喜來登！萬豪還對台灣14家飯店硬冠「中國台灣」” – Liberty Times, 8/16/18
“不满被万豪标注”中国台湾” 台北一酒店跳脚要解约” – Sina, 8/16/18
“不满被冠“中国台湾” 中和福朋解除与万豪集团合约” – Zaobabo, 8/16/18
“抗議冠名「中國台灣」 中和福朋喜來登與萬豪酒店解約” – UDN, 8/16/18
“万豪强改「中国台湾」？ 中和福朋喜来登解约抗议” – China Times, 8/16/18
“Taipei Sheraton cans Marriott over its groveling to China” – Taiwan News, 8/16/18
“Taiwan demands correction of ‘Taiwan, China’ name on Intercontinental site” – Taiwan News, 8/16/18
[iii] “Taiwan hotel axes Marriott contract over China naming row,” Channel Asia News (AFP), 8/16/18. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/taiwan-hotel-axes-marriott-contract-over-china-naming-row-10621676
[iv] “Taiwan hotel axes Marriott contract over China naming row,” Channel Asia News (AFP), 8/16/18. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/taiwan-hotel-axes-marriott-contract-over-china-naming-row-10621676
[v] Search for Taiwan, Starwood Hotels, retrieved 8/16/18 at 15.58EDT. starwoodhotels.com.