万豪同意关闭中国网站一周。两个月后,网站重新开放,但缺失了一项关键功能。

2018年1月,一次邮件失误导致万豪被要求向中国政府致歉(我们在前一篇文章中曾探讨过这事件)。万豪遵照政府要求,关闭了其在中国的网站及应用程序。[1] 多家媒体报告称网站将被政府关闭一周。[2]

而少数报道则称万豪的中国网站被封至少两个月 – 并且重新开放后无法直接预订酒店客房。

这两个月当中,中国用户被重新转至一项错误信息

2018年1月11日,万豪的中文官网(www.marriott.com.cn/default.mi)从一个搜索网站被变为了一项错误页面。[3]

 

在被关闭之前,万豪在2018年1月11日的中国网站(通过网络文档收藏的屏幕截图)

 

2018年1月11日显示在万豪中国网站上的错误信息(通过网络文档收藏的屏幕截图)

 

错误页面中包含了万豪所发布的致歉声明:“万豪国际集团尊重中国的主权和领土完整。我们绝不支持任何损害中国主权和领土完整的任何分裂组织。我们对任何可能引起对以上立场误解的行为深刻道歉。”[4]

截止到接下来一周的中期,1月18日,网站重新发布了另一条通知。该信息承诺了网站将于下一周恢复使用。[5]

万豪的网站于2018年1月18日导入此通知(通过网络文档收藏的屏幕截图)

 

超过一周之后,于1月30日,该网站又出现一条新的维护信息:“很抱歉,网站关闭,我们正在努力修正包括搜索辅助功能在内的系统错误,并更新网站,感谢您的耐心。”[6]

万豪网站在2018年1月30日所显示的维护信息(通过网络文档收藏的屏幕截图)

 

万豪中文官网在两个月后恢复上线,但无法直接预订酒店客房

根据从Internet Archive所获得的万豪网站截图,万豪中文官网最早于3月23日开始恢复使用,这是在万豪致歉的两个多月之后。[7]但网站缺失了一项关键功能 – 直接预订酒店客房。

恢复后的官网向访客提供了前往万豪App的链接,万豪奖励微信服务号,以及客服电话。与之前版本不同,该网站并未提供搜索条来搜索酒店空房情况。

该功能的缺失使直接从网站预订变得更为复杂,尽管万豪的既定目标是要向在线旅行机构支付更少的费用。[8]

在4月27日,万豪宣布在飞猪 – 阿里巴巴的旅行服务平台 – 上推出重新设计的店面网页。[9]我们将在另外一帖探讨这一最新网站。

万豪尚未处理网址被关所带来的影响

万豪并未公开表示网址被关的具体时长,也没有在其美国的新闻稿中宣布网站恢复使用。

在2月份的投资者财报电话会议中有人询问了关于中国网站被关的问题, Arne Sorenson称,“我们不认为它对我们的财务业绩造成了一定影响。现在,公平来讲,这取决于我们不会在这方面发生更多错误,我们也在尽全力避免此类事件的发生。”[10] 这一预测是否真实,将会在5月8日万豪发布第一季度业绩报告时见分晓。[11]

 

[1] Abha Bhattarai, “China asked Marriott to shut down its website. The company complied.,” Washington Post, 1/18/18. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2018/01/18/china-demanded-marriott-change-its-website-the-company-complied/?utm_term=.f12a5b4f362f

[2] Neil Connor, “China shuts down Marriott website for a week after hotel chain listed Tibet and Hong Kong as countries,” The Telegraph, 1/12/18. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/01/12/china-shuts-marriott-website-week-hotel-chain-listed-tibet-hong/; Pei Li and Brenda Goh, “Shanghai temporarily closes Marriott website in China after questionnaire gaffe,” Reuters, 1/11/18. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-marriott/shanghai-temporarily-closes-marriott-website-in-china-after-questionnaire-gaffe-idUSKBN1F00UT; Sofia Lotto Persio, “Marriott China Apology: American Hotel Chain Website Shut Down After Taiwan, Tibet Gaffe,” Newsweek, 1/11/18. http://www.newsweek.com/marriott-hotel-china-apologizes-survey-challenging-beijings-territorial-claims-777763.

[3] Compare the version of the Marriott Chinese website captured earlier on 1/11/18 (marriott.com.cn/default.mi, screen capture 1/11/18 @ 01:15:04, Internet Archive (Wayback Machine), retrieved 4/13/18. https://web.archive.org/web/20180111011504/http://www.marriott.com.cn/default.mi) to the version captured later that day (marriott.com.cn/default.mi, screen capture 1/11/18 @ 23:39:06, Internet Archive (Wayback Machine), retrieved 4/13/18. https://web.archive.org/web/20180111233906/http://www.marriott.com.cn/default.mi).

[4] See marriott.com.cn/default.mi, screen capture 1/11/18 @ 23:39:06, Internet Archive (Wayback Machine), retrieved 4/13/18. https://web.archive.org/web/20180111233906/http://www.marriott.com.cn/default.mi. Translation our own.

[5] Site notice: marriott.com/marriott/mcomcn/sitenotice.mi, screen capture 1/18/18 @ 01:31:52, Internet Archive (Wayback Marchine), retrieved 4/13/18. https://web.archive.org/web/20180118013152/http://www.marriott.com/marriott/mcomcn/sitenotice.mi; redirected from Marriott.com.cn/default.mi, crawled 1/18/18 @ 01:32:16, Internet Archive (Wayback Machine), retrieved 4/16/18. https://web.archive.org/web/20180118013216/http://www.marriott.com.cn/default.mi.

[6] Maintenance message: marriott.com/marriott/maintenance-cn.mi, screen capture 1/30/18 @05:24:52, Internet Archive (Wayback Machine), retrieved 4/13/18. https://web.archive.org/web/20180130052452/http://www.marriott.com/marriott/maintenance-cn.mi; redirected from Marriott.com.cn/default.mi, crawled 1/30/18 @ 03:19:49, Internet Archive (Wayback Machine), retrieved 4/16/18. https://web.archive.org/web/20180130031949/http://www.marriott.com.cn/default.mi. Translation our own.

[7] Restored website: Marriott.com.cn, screen capture 3/23/18 @ 16:34:28, Internet Archive (Wayback Machine), retrieved 4/13/18. https://web.archive.org/web/20180323163428/http://www.marriott.com.cn/.

[8] Ankit Ajmera, “Marriott aims to cut commissions for online agencies: CEO,” Reuters, 4/3/18. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-marriott-intnl-india-onlinetravel/marriott-aims-to-cut-commissions-for-online-agencies-ceo-idUSKCN1HA1U3

[9] “Marriott International Elevates Travel Experience For Chinese Consumers With Enhanced Mobile Functionality And Global Wallet-Free Travel,” Marriott News Center, 4/27/18. http://news.marriott.com/2018/04/marriott-international-elevates-travel-experience-for-chinese-consumers-with-enhanced-mobile-functionality-and-global-wallet-free-travel/.

[10] Transcript of 4Q17 earnings call, Marriott, 2/15/18, p. 20. http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/MAR/5691911320x0x972253/9A46AEDC-4AEF-4222-85AB-2B1F85543903/MAR_Q4_Earnings_TRANSCRIPT_FINAL_2-15-18.pdf.

[11] “Marriott International Announces Release Date For First Quarter 2018 Earnings,” Marriott News Center (press release), 4/2/18. http://news.marriott.com/2018/04/marriott-international-announces-release-date-for-first-quarter-2018-earnings/.

Marriott agreed to shut down its Chinese website for one week. Two months later, it returned – missing a key feature.

(Photo by russell davies via flickr – CC BY-NC 2.0)

 

In January 2018, after an email gaffe obliged Marriott to apologize to the Chinese government (an incident we explored in a previous post), Marriott complied with a government request to shut down its websites and apps in the country.[1] Several outlets reported that sites would be shut down by the government for a week.[2]

What was less widely reported was that Marriott’s Chinese website was unavailable for at least two months – and returned without the ability to directly book hotel rooms.

For two months, Chinese citizens were redirected to an error message

On January 11th, 2018, Marriott’s Chinese website (www.marriott.com.cn/default.mi) changed from a searchable site to an error message.[3]

Marriott’s Chinese website on 1/11/18, before the shutdown (archived screenshot via Internet Archive)

Error message displayed on Marriott’s Chinese website on 1/11/18 (archived screenshot via Internet Archive)

 

The error message echoed the statement of apology that Marriott had already released: “Marriott International Group respects China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We will absolutely not support any separatist organization that undermines China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We deeply apologize for any possible misunderstanding of the above positions.”[4]

By the middle of the next week, January 18th, the website redirected to another notice. This message promised that the website would return the following week.[5]

Marriott’s website redirected to this notice on 1/18/18 (archived screenshot via Internet Archive)

 

More than a week later, on January 30th, the website redirected to a new maintenance message: “We’re sorry, the site is closed and we’re working hard to fix system errors including search assistance and update the site. Thank you for your patience.”[6]

Marriott’s website directed to a maintenance message on 1/30/18 (archived screenshot via Internet Archive)

 

Marriott’s website returned after two months – without the ability to directly book hotels

Based on the copies of the Marriott website captured by the Internet Archive, the earliest Marriott’s website was restored was March 23rd, more than two months after Marriott’s apology.[7] But the website lacked a key feature – the ability to directly book a hotel room.

The restored website offered visitors a link to the Marriott app, the Marriott Rewards WeChat Service Number, and a telephone number to reach customer service. The website did not offer a search bar to search for hotel availability, unlike the original version of the site.

The inability to make a direct booking through the website is all the more perplexing in light of Marriott’s stated goal of paying less to online travel agents.[8]

On April 27, Marriott announced the launch of a redesigned storefront page on Fliggy, Alibaba’s travel service platform.[9] We will take a look at that new website in an upcoming post.

 

Marriott has not addressed the implications of the website shutdown

Marriott did not publicly address the length of the website shutdown, nor announce that it had been restored, in its U.S. press releases.

Asked a question about the Chinese website shutdown on an investor earnings call in February, Arne Sorenson stated, “We don’t expect there to be a measurable impact to our financial results. Now, to be fair, that depends on our not making more mistakes in this space, which we’re doing everything in our power to avoid doing.”[10] Whether this prediction turned out to be true will be revealed on May 8th, when Marriott releases its first quarter earnings results.[11]

 

[1] Abha Bhattarai, “China asked Marriott to shut down its website. The company complied.,” Washington Post, 1/18/18. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2018/01/18/china-demanded-marriott-change-its-website-the-company-complied/?utm_term=.f12a5b4f362f

[2] Neil Connor, “China shuts down Marriott website for a week after hotel chain listed Tibet and Hong Kong as countries,” The Telegraph, 1/12/18. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/01/12/china-shuts-marriott-website-week-hotel-chain-listed-tibet-hong/; Pei Li and Brenda Goh, “Shanghai temporarily closes Marriott website in China after questionnaire gaffe,” Reuters, 1/11/18. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-marriott/shanghai-temporarily-closes-marriott-website-in-china-after-questionnaire-gaffe-idUSKBN1F00UT; Sofia Lotto Persio, “Marriott China Apology: American Hotel Chain Website Shut Down After Taiwan, Tibet Gaffe,” Newsweek, 1/11/18. http://www.newsweek.com/marriott-hotel-china-apologizes-survey-challenging-beijings-territorial-claims-777763.

[3] Compare the version of the Marriott Chinese website captured earlier on 1/11/18 (marriott.com.cn/default.mi, screen capture 1/11/18 @ 01:15:04, Internet Archive (Wayback Machine), retrieved 4/13/18. https://web.archive.org/web/20180111011504/http://www.marriott.com.cn/default.mi) to the version captured later that day (marriott.com.cn/default.mi, screen capture 1/11/18 @ 23:39:06, Internet Archive (Wayback Machine), retrieved 4/13/18. https://web.archive.org/web/20180111233906/http://www.marriott.com.cn/default.mi).

[4] See marriott.com.cn/default.mi, screen capture 1/11/18 @ 23:39:06, Internet Archive (Wayback Machine), retrieved 4/13/18. https://web.archive.org/web/20180111233906/http://www.marriott.com.cn/default.mi. Translation our own.

[5] Site notice: marriott.com/marriott/mcomcn/sitenotice.mi, screen capture 1/18/18 @ 01:31:52, Internet Archive (Wayback Marchine), retrieved 4/13/18. https://web.archive.org/web/20180118013152/http://www.marriott.com/marriott/mcomcn/sitenotice.mi; redirected from Marriott.com.cn/default.mi, crawled 1/18/18 @ 01:32:16, Internet Archive (Wayback Machine), retrieved 4/16/18. https://web.archive.org/web/20180118013216/http://www.marriott.com.cn/default.mi.

[6] Maintenance message: marriott.com/marriott/maintenance-cn.mi, screen capture 1/30/18 @05:24:52, Internet Archive (Wayback Machine), retrieved 4/13/18. https://web.archive.org/web/20180130052452/http://www.marriott.com/marriott/maintenance-cn.mi; redirected from Marriott.com.cn/default.mi, crawled 1/30/18 @ 03:19:49, Internet Archive (Wayback Machine), retrieved 4/16/18. https://web.archive.org/web/20180130031949/http://www.marriott.com.cn/default.mi. Translation our own.

[7] Restored website: Marriott.com.cn, screen capture 3/23/18 @ 16:34:28, Internet Archive (Wayback Machine), retrieved 4/13/18. https://web.archive.org/web/20180323163428/http://www.marriott.com.cn/.

[8] Ankit Ajmera, “Marriott aims to cut commissions for online agencies: CEO,” Reuters, 4/3/18. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-marriott-intnl-india-onlinetravel/marriott-aims-to-cut-commissions-for-online-agencies-ceo-idUSKCN1HA1U3

[9] “Marriott International Elevates Travel Experience For Chinese Consumers With Enhanced Mobile Functionality And Global Wallet-Free Travel,” Marriott News Center, 4/27/18. http://news.marriott.com/2018/04/marriott-international-elevates-travel-experience-for-chinese-consumers-with-enhanced-mobile-functionality-and-global-wallet-free-travel/.

[10] Transcript of 4Q17 earnings call, Marriott, 2/15/18, p. 20. http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/MAR/5691911320x0x972253/9A46AEDC-4AEF-4222-85AB-2B1F85543903/MAR_Q4_Earnings_TRANSCRIPT_FINAL_2-15-18.pdf.

[11] “Marriott International Announces Release Date For First Quarter 2018 Earnings,” Marriott News Center (press release), 4/2/18. http://news.marriott.com/2018/04/marriott-international-announces-release-date-for-first-quarter-2018-earnings/.

一封邮件,一个点赞,万豪在中国引发轩然大波,陷入中美舆论当口

 

在今年1月份,万豪在中国引起轩然大波。 中国舆论集体声讨该公司,政府监管机构也暂时关闭了他们的网站和应用程序。

这场冲突的根源很简单 – 一封电子邮件和一个Twitter “点赞”,所涉邮件和点赞内容显示万豪对中国主权和领土完整的立场有异议。

该事件是万豪在中国所面临障碍的一个缩影。 在中国,文化能力是关键。 但是,万豪的道歉和整改步骤却引发了美国中国评论人士的激烈反对。展望未来,万豪能否避免类似事件的发生? 万豪会因为中美两国舆论和政府需求的冲突而受束缚吗?

万豪做了什么引起中国舆论哗然?

2018年1月,万豪向中国客户发送了一封电子邮件调查。 问卷调查中有个问题把台湾,西藏,香港和澳门列成独立的国家。[i] 中国外交部明确指出,“一个中国原则”是不可协商的,任何试图破坏这一原则的人都将面临来自中国政府和广泛人民群众的强烈反对。[ii]

调查问卷问题曝光后,中国政府有力地进行了抨击。外交部发言人陆康在记者招待会上表示:“中国欢迎外资企业入华投资,在华外企应该在遵守中国法律的前提下,尊重中国主权,领土完整,并尊重中国人民民族情感。这是任何公司在任何国家开展业务的基础。”[iii] 中国网民在中国各大社交媒体上呼吁对万豪的抵制。[iv]

一个名为 “西藏之友” 的 藏独组织在其Twitter账号发了一条贴文,庆贺了万豪酒店集团把西藏列为“国家”的行为。[v] 万豪官方推特账号为此贴文进行了点赞,令情况更趋复杂。由中国共产党运营的青年团体-共产主义青年团,通过微博发布了万豪的Twitter动态。[vi]

万豪的回应:官方道歉和开除‘犯事’的低层员工

万豪决定遵守中国政府的请求,关闭了其在中国的网站和App。[vii] 公司表示,在此解决问题期间,已主动暂停在其全球社交媒体帐户上的内容发布。首席执行官阿恩·索伦森Arne Sorenson发布了 一份措辞谦卑的公开道歉信,内注,“万豪国际一贯尊重并支持中国的主权及领土完整…我们绝不支持任何蓄意颠覆中国主权及领土完整的行为,我们也绝不会以任何形式鼓励和煽动这类组织和个人,我们深刻意识到事态的严重性,并在此为伤害了中国人民的感情而诚恳致歉。”[ix]

万豪总裁兼亚太区董事总经理Craig Smith承认情况的严重性:“这是一个巨大的错误,亦可能是我职业生涯中最大的错误。”万豪宣布了八点整改措施,其中包括在全球范围内加强员工有关中国的培训和教育;为中国客户建立直接的投诉渠道;将更加从严把关针对中国市场项目的第三方机构的工作。[x]

万豪对问卷调查问题和 Twitter “点赞”行为作出了相应处罚。 终止了负责问卷调查的承包商的合约。[xi] 开除对推特点赞的底层员工Nebraskan Roy Jones。 琼斯后来表示,他从来没有接受关于如何处理可能激怒中国政府的问题的培训。在被他的高层领导注意之前,那惹恼中国群众的Twitter点赞存在了近乎一天。[xii]

万豪后来从旗下一家中国酒店的大堂里移除了一本颇有争议的展示书,书名为 “Bloody Harvest: the Killing of Falun Gong for Their Organs,”,该书是根据加拿大前议员David Kilgour和人权律师David Matas的研究报告撰写的。[xiii]

美国境内所受抨击

虽然万豪在中国遭遇强烈抵制,公司同时也招致来自美国境内的谴责。各方权威人士利用此事件抨击中国,并将万豪贬示为演技很差的演员。

威尔逊中心基辛格中国与美国研究所所长Robert Daly表示,史密斯的道歉具有危险性:“斯密斯如此卑微的道歉或成未来北京方面要求所有对中国未来冒犯者回应的标杆” [xiv]

加利福尼亚州圣克拉拉大学高科技法律研究所的联席主Eric Goldman表达了对开除点赞推特员工的担忧:“如果这是他所采取的首举措施,那么将是万豪为讨好中国,来牺牲员工的实证。[xv]

对万豪在美或最引人瞩目的批评者来自参议员马可鲁比奥(Marco Rubio),他在推文中说:“万豪可是中国的一把好手。 他们可以让一个“美国”公司在美国解雇美国工人” [xvi]

两头为难的万豪

在这一令人尴尬的事件发生之后,万豪发现自己陷入中美舆论两难处境,万豪倚靠中国舆论来发展其在中国的业务,而美国舆论则强烈谴责其承认中国的政治敏感性。

随着特朗普总统与中国在贸易问题上不断升级的紧张关系,这样的事件所带来的潜在后果可能会更大。

Arne Sorenson告诉投资者,他预计该事件不会对万豪的财务业绩有可量影响。[xvii] 该预测是否真实将在万豪发布了该公司的第一季度财报的5月8日揭晓。[xviii]

关于万豪对此事件的处理,投资者应提出下面这些问题:

  • 万豪在中国未来的发展走向是什么? 他们可以重获新生吗?
  • 在美国,万豪是否因其过度的道歉而蒙受风险?
  • 万豪是否考虑过雇佣第三方与中国沟通带来的风险吗?
  • 万豪在1月份宣布的整改措施是否能被落实?

 

[i] Teddy Ng, “Marriott sacks employee who ‘liked’ Twitter post from Tibet independence group,” South China Morning Post, 1/13/18. http://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/2128124/marriott-sacks-employee-who-liked-twitter-post-tibet-independence.

[ii] Nomaan Merchant, “‘One China principle’ not negotiable, China tells Trump,” AP News, 1/16/17. https://apnews.com/37f0637a4661475bb61a47b0a77b423b.

[iii] “Foreign enterprises should respect China’s sovereignty, territorial integrity: FM,” China Daily, 1/12/18. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201801/12/WS5a5898afa3102c394518ee88.html.

[iv] “Chinese netizens urge boycott of Marriott for calling Tibet a ‘country’,” Global Times, 1/9/18. http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1083995.shtml

[v] Neil Connor, “China shuts down Marriott website for a week after hotel chain listed Tibet and Hong Kong as countries,” The Telegraph, 1/12/18. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/01/12/china-shuts-marriott-website-week-hotel-chain-listed-tibet-hong/.

[vi] “Chinese probe into Marriott hotels over geography gaffe in customer survey,” South China Morning Post, 1/11/18. http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2127800/chinese-probe-marriott-hotels-over-geography-gaffe.

[vii] Abha Bhattarai, “China asked Marriott to shut down its website. The company complied.,” Washington Post, 1/18/18. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2018/01/18/china-demanded-marriott-change-its-website-the-company-complied/?utm_term=.f12a5b4f362f

[viii] Dani Deahl, “Marriott says it chose to stop posting on social media after China ban,” The Verge, 1/18/18. https://www.theverge.com/2018/1/18/16906206/marriott-social-media-shut-down-china-territories-countries-survey

[ix] Arne Sorenson, “Statement from Arne Sorenson, President and CEO, Marriott International, Inc.,” Marriott News Center, 1/11/18. http://news.marriott.com/2018/01/statement-from-arne-sorenson-president-and-ceo-marriott-international-inc/.

[x] Xu Junqian, “Marriott announces ‘rectification plan’ to regain trust,” China Daily (via Google cache), 1/18/18 (retrieved 4/11/18). http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:3Fr88YufaXEJ:www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201801/18/WS5a600374a310e4ebf433e9ac.html+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us.

[xi] Wayne Ma, “Marriott Employee Roy Jones Hit ‘Like.’ Then China Got Mad,” Wall Street Journal, 3/3/18. https://www.wsj.com/articles/marriott-employee-roy-jones-hit-like-then-china-got-mad-1520094910.

[xii] Matthew Hansen, “Omaha man ‘liked’ a tweet, and then he lost his dream job,” Omaha World-Herald, 3/21/18. http://www.omaha.com/columnists/hansen/hansen-omaha-man-liked-a-tweet-and-then-he-lost/article_74b9021a-3753-5b33-b096-f0af3c8372d6.html.

[xiii] “Marriott Pulls Banned ‘Books’ From China Hotel to Avert Backlash,” Bloomberg News, 1/16/18. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-16/marriott-pulls-banned-books-from-china-hotel-to-avert-backlash.

[xiv] Abha Bhattarai and Steven Mufson, “Marriott and other firms bow to China to protect business interests,” Washington Post, 1/19/18. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/marriott-and-other-firms-bow-to-china-to-protect-business-interests-there/2018/01/19/af797a98-fb98-11e7-a46b-a3614530bd87_story.html?utm_term=.59847e6e533e

[xv] Wayne Ma, “Marriott Employee Roy Jones Hit ‘Like.’ Then China Got Mad,” Wall Street Journal, 3/3/18. https://www.wsj.com/articles/marriott-employee-roy-jones-hit-like-then-china-got-mad-1520094910.

[xvi] Marco Rubio (@marcorubio), “An American worker was fired by @Marriott for accidentally “liking” a tweet about #Tibet after pressure came from #China communist government. This is the long arm of China. They can get an “American” company to fire an American worker in America,” Twitter, 3/25/18, 7.31 AM.  https://twitter.com/marcorubio/status/977915812890759169.

[xvii] Transcript of 4Q17 earnings call, Marriott, 2/15/18, p. 20. http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/MAR/5691911320x0x972253/9A46AEDC-4AEF-4222-85AB-2B1F85543903/MAR_Q4_Earnings_TRANSCRIPT_FINAL_2-15-18.pdf.

[xviii] “Marriott International Announces Release Date For First Quarter 2018 Earnings,” Marriott News Center (press release), 4/2/18. http://news.marriott.com/2018/04/marriott-international-announces-release-date-for-first-quarter-2018-earnings/.

With an email and a ‘like,’ Marriott set off a firestorm in China – and found itself caught between Chinese and U.S. public opinion.

(chinese simplified pinyin azerty 0059 by Marcin Wichary – CC BY 2.0)

 

Marriott set off a firestorm in China in January. Chinese public opinion rallied against the company, and government regulators temporarily shut down their website and apps.

The source of this conflict was simple – an email and a Twitter ‘like’ that suggested Marriott disagreed with China’s position on its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

This incident represents a microcosm of the obstacles that Marriott faces in China.  In China, cultural competency is key. But Marriott’s apology and rectification steps sparked a backlash from critics of China in the U.S. Going forward, will Marriott be able to avoid similar incidents? And will Marriott be hemmed in by the conflicting demands of public opinion and governmental demands in China and the U.S.?

What did Marriott do to roil Chinese public opinion?

In January 2018, Marriott sent an email survey to Chinese customers. A question on the survey listed Taiwan, Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau as countries separate from China.[i] China’s Foreign Ministry has made it clear that the ‘one-China principle’ – that the government in Beijing is China’s sole legitimate government – is non-negotiable, and that anyone who attempts to undermine this principle will face broad and strong opposition from the Chinese government and people.[ii]

The Chinese government forcefully pushed back. After the survey question came to light, Lu Kang, a spokesperson for the ministry of foreign affairs, stated at a press conference, “We welcome foreign enterprises to do business in China. Meanwhile, they should respect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, abide by Chinese law, and respect the Chinese peoples’ feelings, which are the foundation for any corporation to do business in any country.”[iii] Chinese netizens called for boycotts against Marriott on Chinese social media platforms.[iv]

The furor escalated after “Friends of Tibet”, a pro-Tibetan independence group, congratulated Marriott on Twitter for listing Tibet as a country. An official Marriott Twitter channel ‘liked’ the post, compounding the situation.[v] The Communist Youth League, a youth group run by the Chinese Communist Party, posted about Marriott’s action from their official account on Weibo, China’s popular Twitter-like platform.[vi]

Marriott’s response: official apology and termination of low-level employee

Marriott complied with a Chinese government request to shut down its websites and apps in the country.[vii] The company stated that it proactively suspended posting on its global social media accounts while it dealt with the matter.[viii] CEO Arne Sorenson issued an abject public apology that noted, “Marriott International respects and supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China…we don’t support anyone who subverts the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China and we do not intend in any way to encourage or incite any such people or groups. We recognize the severity of the situation and sincerely apologize.”[ix]

Marriott’s president and managing director for Asia-Pacific Craig Smith acknowledged the severity of the situation: “This is a huge mistake, probably the biggest of my career.” Marriott announced an eight point ‘rectification plan’, which steps included expanding employee education globally, creating straightforward complaint channels for Chinese customers, and more strictly supervising the work of third-party agents for projects largely targeting the China market.[x]

Marriott meted out consequences for both the survey and the Twitter ‘like’. The contractor that put together the survey was terminated.[xi] The low-level employee who liked the Twitter post, Nebraskan Roy Jones, was fired. Jones later stated that he had received zero training on how to handle issues that might inflame the Chinese government, and that the offending tweet was liked for nearly a day before anyone above him noticed.[xii]

Marriott later removed a display book from the lobby of one of its China hotels. The controversial book, entitled “Bloody Harvest: the Killing of Falun Gong for Their Organs,” was based on a research report by former Canadian lawmaker David Kilgour and human rights lawyer David Matas.[xiii]

Backlash in the United States

While Marriott faced a backlash in China, it also received withering criticism in the U.S. Pundits used the incident to criticize China, and exemplified Marriott as a bad actor.

Robert Daly, director of the Wilson Center’s Kissinger Institute on China and the United States, said that Smith’s apology was dangerous: “His apology is so abject that it could well become a standard which Beijing requires all future offenders of China to meet.”[xiv]

Eric Goldman, co-director of the High-Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University in California, expressed concern about the termination of the employee who liked the offensive tweet: “If this were his first strike, the employee effectively is a sacrifice to try to get Marriott back in the good graces of China.”[xv]

Perhaps the most high-profile critique of Marriott in the U.S. came from Senator Marco Rubio, who said in a tweet, “This is the long arm of China. They can get an “American” company to fire an American worker in America.”[xvi]

Marriott caught in the middle

In the wake of this embarrassing episode, Marriott found itself caught between Chinese public opinion, which it relied on to grow its business in China, and a backlash in the U.S., which condemned the company for acknowledging Chinese political sensitivities.

With President Trump escalating tensions with China over trade, the potential consequences for incidents like this could be greater.

Arne Sorenson told investors that he didn’t expect there to be a measurable impact to Marriott’s financial results after the incident.[xvii] Whether that prediction turns out to be true will be revealed on May 8th, when Marriott releases its earnings results for the first quarter.[xviii]

Investors should be asking questions of Marriott about its handling of this incident.

  • What is Marriott’s path forward in China? Can they reclaim lost ground?
  • Has Marriott incurred risk in the U.S. by its over-the-top apologies?
  • Since the survey was put together by a contractor, has Marriott considered the risks posed by using third parties as part of its communications to China?
  • Have the rectification steps that Marriott announced in January been implemented?

 

[i] Teddy Ng, “Marriott sacks employee who ‘liked’ Twitter post from Tibet independence group,” South China Morning Post, 1/13/18. http://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/2128124/marriott-sacks-employee-who-liked-twitter-post-tibet-independence.

[ii] Nomaan Merchant, “‘One China principle’ not negotiable, China tells Trump,” AP News, 1/16/17. https://apnews.com/37f0637a4661475bb61a47b0a77b423b.

[iii] “Foreign enterprises should respect China’s sovereignty, territorial integrity: FM,” China Daily, 1/12/18. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201801/12/WS5a5898afa3102c394518ee88.html.

[iv] “Chinese netizens urge boycott of Marriott for calling Tibet a ‘country’,” Global Times, 1/9/18. http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1083995.shtml

[v] Neil Connor, “China shuts down Marriott website for a week after hotel chain listed Tibet and Hong Kong as countries,” The Telegraph, 1/12/18. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/01/12/china-shuts-marriott-website-week-hotel-chain-listed-tibet-hong/.

[vi] “Chinese probe into Marriott hotels over geography gaffe in customer survey,” South China Morning Post, 1/11/18. http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2127800/chinese-probe-marriott-hotels-over-geography-gaffe.

[vii] Abha Bhattarai, “China asked Marriott to shut down its website. The company complied.,” Washington Post, 1/18/18. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2018/01/18/china-demanded-marriott-change-its-website-the-company-complied/?utm_term=.f12a5b4f362f

[viii] Dani Deahl, “Marriott says it chose to stop posting on social media after China ban,” The Verge, 1/18/18. https://www.theverge.com/2018/1/18/16906206/marriott-social-media-shut-down-china-territories-countries-survey

[ix] Arne Sorenson, “Statement from Arne Sorenson, President and CEO, Marriott International, Inc.,” Marriott News Center, 1/11/18. http://news.marriott.com/2018/01/statement-from-arne-sorenson-president-and-ceo-marriott-international-inc/.

[x] Xu Junqian, “Marriott announces ‘rectification plan’ to regain trust,” China Daily (via Google cache), 1/18/18 (retrieved 4/11/18). http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:3Fr88YufaXEJ:www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201801/18/WS5a600374a310e4ebf433e9ac.html+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us.

[xi] Wayne Ma, “Marriott Employee Roy Jones Hit ‘Like.’ Then China Got Mad,” Wall Street Journal, 3/3/18. https://www.wsj.com/articles/marriott-employee-roy-jones-hit-like-then-china-got-mad-1520094910.

[xii] Matthew Hansen, “Omaha man ‘liked’ a tweet, and then he lost his dream job,” Omaha World-Herald, 3/21/18. http://www.omaha.com/columnists/hansen/hansen-omaha-man-liked-a-tweet-and-then-he-lost/article_74b9021a-3753-5b33-b096-f0af3c8372d6.html.

[xiii] “Marriott Pulls Banned ‘Books’ From China Hotel to Avert Backlash,” Bloomberg News, 1/16/18. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-16/marriott-pulls-banned-books-from-china-hotel-to-avert-backlash.

[xiv] Abha Bhattarai and Steven Mufson, “Marriott and other firms bow to China to protect business interests,” Washington Post, 1/19/18. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/marriott-and-other-firms-bow-to-china-to-protect-business-interests-there/2018/01/19/af797a98-fb98-11e7-a46b-a3614530bd87_story.html?utm_term=.59847e6e533e

[xv] Wayne Ma, “Marriott Employee Roy Jones Hit ‘Like.’ Then China Got Mad,” Wall Street Journal, 3/3/18. https://www.wsj.com/articles/marriott-employee-roy-jones-hit-like-then-china-got-mad-1520094910.

[xvi] Marco Rubio (@marcorubio), “An American worker was fired by @Marriott for accidentally “liking” a tweet about #Tibet after pressure came from #China communist government. This is the long arm of China. They can get an “American” company to fire an American worker in America,” Twitter, 3/25/18, 7.31 AM.  https://twitter.com/marcorubio/status/977915812890759169.

[xvii] Transcript of 4Q17 earnings call, Marriott, 2/15/18, p. 20. http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/MAR/5691911320x0x972253/9A46AEDC-4AEF-4222-85AB-2B1F85543903/MAR_Q4_Earnings_TRANSCRIPT_FINAL_2-15-18.pdf.

[xviii] “Marriott International Announces Release Date For First Quarter 2018 Earnings,” Marriott News Center (press release), 4/2/18. http://news.marriott.com/2018/04/marriott-international-announces-release-date-for-first-quarter-2018-earnings/.

隆重推出万豪中国观察网

图片由 Przemek Pietrak / globalquiz.org 通过Flickr提供  – CC BY 3.0

 

欢迎来到万豪中国观察网。本网站提供了对万豪国际在全球第二大经济体–中国的活动所进行的研究与分析。

 

如果您是万豪国际的投资者,万豪股票的分析师,或者您是一名国际商务观察员,您已经知道中国是全球旅游行业的关键市场:中国是国际旅游业的全球最大消费体,并预计会持续增长。[1] 根据 Lodging Econometrics,中国承担了全球酒店发展计划的20%。[2]

 

万豪在中国的发展足迹是吸引国内外中国游客的关键。万豪亚太区总裁 Craig Smith称:“在中国扩张的一项重要目标是让中国游客熟知万怡、万豪以及我们的品牌” 。[3] 通过收购喜达屋,万豪在大中华区得到了广泛扩张–该交易使万豪的酒店数提高了170%,增加至264家。[4]

 

该网站对万豪在中国的发展信息进行调查和分析,通过密切关注万豪的国内合作伙伴、观察中文媒体、查阅公司的计划与承诺,并与实际体验进行对比。

 

万豪在中国押下重注,现已深陷困境?

 

万豪已在中国押下重注,是公司除美国外最大的单独市场。[5] 在2017年末,万豪已在中国共拥有约10万间客房,并计划在中国另建87,400间客房 — 这占万豪全球发展计划新建总客房数的19%。[6]

 

作为全球酒店公司,万豪深知中国对公司未来起到的关键作用。在2016年,万豪亚太区总裁及董事总经理Craig Smith报告称:中国是万豪的第二大全球资源市场,并预计未来几年内会跃居第一。[7]

 

万豪对中国市场重要性的分析似乎很合理,但公司在实现对中国市场的雄心壮志的过程中遇到了一些意想不到的挫折。

 

在万豪将台湾、西藏、香港和澳门列为中国之外的国家这一事件之后,中国网络管理局要求万豪暂时关闭面向中国用户的网站和手机App。[8]  万豪在事件发生之后发布了致歉声明,表达公司对中国的依赖性:“作为一家公司,我们非常珍重我们能够有机会服务全球宾客—尤其是我们已经参与了30多年的中国市场。” [9]

 

Craig Smith 对此事件表示:“这是一次很严重的错误,很可能是我职业生涯中最重大的一个。” [10]

 

错误造成了后续影响。(在我们的下一篇发布中,我们将深入探究该事件,以及对万豪的影响。)

 

投资者们应了解万豪在中国面临哪些风险

 

该“错误”的发生正值中美在国际贸易间的关系日趋紧张,最终升级为一场贸易战。[11]

 

特别是目前的国际贸易环境,投资者和分析师需要更多信息来评价万豪在全球第二大经济体当中的实力。该网站的目的是帮助回答下列问题:

 

  • 万豪是否有妥当的文化敏感度,来避免发生一月份网站被封的类似事件?
  • 万豪在中国是否与正确的经济伙伴和政治盟友合作?
  • 万豪在中国的合作伙伴对其在中国的业务能力造成哪些风险?
  • 万豪在中国的发展是否足够快速?他们是否在正确的地点发展了合适的品牌?
  • 万豪目前的高层领导能否执行一项政治和文化敏感的发展计划?

 

 

[1] Oliver Smith, “The unstoppable rise of the Chinese traveller – where are they going and what does it mean for overtourism?” The Telegraph, 4/11/18. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/comment/rise-of-the-chinese-tourist/.

[2] “The Top World Regions and Markets for Hotel Construction,” Lodging Magazine, 3/8/18. http://lodgingmagazine.com/the-top-world-regions-and-markets-for-hotel-construction/.

[3] Shawn Tully, “Why Hotel Giant Marriott Is on an Expansion Binge as It Fends Off Airbnb,” Fortune, 6/14/17. http://fortune.com/2017/06/14/marriott-arne-sorenson-starwood-acquisition-airbnb/.

[4] Shawn Tully, “Why Hotel Giant Marriott Is on an Expansion Binge as It Fends Off Airbnb,” Fortune, 6/14/17. http://fortune.com/2017/06/14/marriott-arne-sorenson-starwood-acquisition-airbnb/.

[5] Sean McCracken, “5 things Marriott’s Sorenson has to say about hotels,” Hotel News Now, 6/20/17. http://hotelnewsnow.com/Articles/146865/5-things-Marriotts-Sorenson-has-to-say-about-hotels.

[6] Marriott had approximately 100,000 rooms in China based on 8% of 1.25 million total global rooms, and approximately 87,400 pipeline rooms in China based on 19% of 460,000 total global pipeline rooms. “Marriott International Marks 2017 as Year of Historic International Expansion,” Marriott News Center (press release), 1/19/18. http://news.marriott.com/2018/01/marriott-international-marks-2017-year-historic-international-expansion/.

[7] Jennifer Lo, “Marriott gets a boost in Asia-Pacific after Starwood deal,” Nikkei Asian Review, 9/24/16. https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/Marriott-gets-a-boost-in-Asia-Pacific-after-Starwood-deal.

[8] Wayne Ma, “Marriott Makes China Mad With Geopolitical Faux Pas,” Wall Street Journal, 1/11/18. https://www.wsj.com/articles/location-location-chinese-officials-slam-marriotts-designation-of-hong-kong-macau-as-countries-1515663854?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=17.

[9] “Statement from Arne Sorenson, President and CEO, Marriott International, Inc.,” Marriott News Center (press release), 1/11/18. http://news.marriott.com/2018/01/statement-from-arne-sorenson-president-and-ceo-marriott-international-inc/.

[10] Xu Junqian, “Marriott announces ‘rectification plan’ to regain trust,” China Daily (via Google cache), 1/18/18 (retrieved 4/11/18). http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:3Fr88YufaXEJ:www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201801/18/WS5a600374a310e4ebf433e9ac.html+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us.

[11] See Ben Otto et. al., “U.S.-China Trade-War Crossfire Threatens Asia,” Wall Street Journal, 3/27/18. https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-china-trade-war-crossfire-threatens-asia-1522155657.