Just this week, people paid their respects to the lives that were lost in 9/11. This was the day, back in 2001, when the World Trade Centers were attacked. Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives that day as a result. So how does Marriott choose to remember this day? Well, by offering free mini muffins and coffee … for 30 minutes.
Enough time has passed now that not every company is going to do something special to remember 9/11, and that is fine. Everyone views this day in their own special way. One thing is for sure, if someone is going to choose to remember this day, they better do it respectfully. That was a memo that Marriott did not get.
First, let’s start off by pointing out that this event was limited to one Marriott hotel located in San Diego. It should also be noted that the hotel did not mean to upset anyone as a result of its poor taste in judgment. That being said, people on social media sites and locals are calling the hotel “tacky” and “insensitive.”
This is a prime example of when it is best not to do anything. If the hotel would have chosen not to bring up 9/11 at all, none of this would have been a problem. However, people were offended when the hotel put out free mini muffins and coffee for 30 minutes in what the hotel said was “honoring” what happened on 9/11. This was more than likely not the best way to pay respect to the 3,000 people that died that day.
Marriott even put out a sign that read, “In remembrance of those we lost on 9/11, the hotel will provide complimentary coffee and mini muffins from 8:45 to 9:15 a.m.” One hotel guest was so upset by what they saw that they took a picture of it with their phone and posted it to Twitter. This is how Marriott’s mistake was soon known around the world.
To make matters worse, the time the free mini muffins and coffee were offered coincided with the time that the first plane hit the twin towers. The White House had a much better and respectful way of handling this matter. They simply offered a moment of silence to pay their respects to the people who lost their lives. No free mini muffins, no coffee; just a moment of silence. That was the more classy way to go about doing things.
People on Twitter said that Marriott really disrespected the families that lost loved ones on 9/11. Some comments pointed out that Marriott would not even be so bold as to offer full size muffins; they offered mini ones. Not only that, they only made these things free for a half an hour.
Although the general manager of the hotel did not see what the problem was, the Marriott chain went on PR control right away. They soon told the media that they were aware of the tweeted picture and pointed out that this was a decision made independently by this hotel and not the Marriott hotel brand. They completely understand why some people misunderstood the message. The hotel was trying to make a sympathetic gesture, but it was taken the wrong way by many people. Marriott apologizes for the misunderstanding.