Marriott’s China Blunder (App & Website Shut Down)

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Marriott this week run into hot water with the Chinese government after the hotel operator had listed Tibet, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan as own countries in online surveys.

Marriott Taiwan App

Marriott was requested to take down the Chinese app and the website for “quality” control. Seems that Marriott has made some changes to the English app too that now lists Taipei as part of China and not Taiwan.

You can access Marriott here.

READ MORE: Marriott Rewards Rate & Bonus Points And Miles Promotions

Here’s what Marriott’s international website shows:

Marriott Taiwan Web

And here what is shown on SPG:

SPG Taiwan

Here’s an excerpt from the Financial Times (access the piece here):

China’s internet regulator has accused hotel group Marriott International of breaking Chinese law and ordered it to close its Chinese website and online booking applications for a week after the company listed Taiwan as a country in some online forms.

The Shanghai office of China’s cyberspace administration, the internet regulator, said in an online post on Thursday that Marriott’s listing of Taiwan as a country had “seriously violated national laws and hurt the feelings of the Chinese people”.

Marriott, which operates more than 120 hotels in China, said that it “respects the integrity of Chinese territory” in a post on Sina Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter.

Here’s statement from Marriott:

Statement from Arne Sorenson, President and CEO, Marriott International, Inc.

Marriott International respects and supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China. Unfortunately, twice this week, we had incidents that suggested the opposite: First, by incorrectly labelling certain regions within China, including Tibet, as countries in a drop-down menu on a survey we sent out to our loyalty members; and second, in the careless “like” by an associate of a tweet that incorrectly suggested our support of this position. Nothing could be further from the truth: 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.

In the aftermath of these two events, here’s what we have done. As soon as we became aware of the issue with the survey, we worked to take it down and make the necessary corrections. We also reviewed the other areas on our websites and apps where this type of functionality might exist to make sure the labeling is correct. In China, at the request of the Government, we have taken down our Chinese websites and apps to conduct a full review and audit. We also quickly un-“liked” the tweet and posted a statement of apology on Twitter.

Upon completion of a full investigation into how both incidents happened, we will be taking the necessary disciplinary action with respect to the individuals involved, which could include termination, changing our approval and review procedures for online content, reviewing our customer feedback channels, and enhancing training to ensure these situations don’t happen again. We are also working closely and co-operating with the relevant Government authorities in China.

As a company, we take very seriously the privilege and opportunity we have to serve guests in countries around the world – and particularly in China, a market we have been in for over 30 years. We also take responsibility when we make mistakes. We will learn from this experience, make changes to ensure errors like this don’t happen again, and continue to focus on making sure our Chinese guests feel respected and have wonderful experiences as we have the privilege of serving them in our hotels in China and around the globe.

Conclusion

Taipei is NOT part of China regardless what the Chinese leadership may want you to believe. It is part of Taiwan. Plain and simple. Hong Kong is usually listed as Hong Kong SAR (special administrative region) or just part of China.

Marriott hotels in China may face lower occupancy rates this week due to app and website being shut down or perhaps they dump inventory on Chinese OTA’s instead?

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