Marriott has to apologize: What a terrible misunderstanding – Why your front office clerks should be remembered to a welcoming environment
Hamburg, Germany – Carsten Hennig, Managing Editor Europe, commenting
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Welcome every guest free where ever he is from and what ever it is his religion – What should be basic behaviour for every hotel clerk, now became an international incident for Marriott International. A ‘terrible misunderstanding’ at the Fairfield Inn & Suites in Avon, Ohio, where a business guest from the United Arab Emirates has been arrested due to his traditional arabian clothes, initiated a new debate about a ‘welcoming environment’.
What has happened? Last weekend, Mr Ahmed Al Menhali from the Emirates, married and father of three children, entered the hotel while talking on his smartphone. A hotel clerk at the reception thought to identify him as a terrorist while mentioning ISIS and called the police.
After he has been handcuffed but quickly released after the situation was found to be a false alarm, Mr Al Menhali felt a panic attack and was taken to hospital.
Shortly after this incident, UAE government warned his inhabitants to wear traditional arab clothes while traveling abroad.
Marriott Int. released an official statement:
‘Marriott International is aware of the incident that occurred at the Fairfield Inn & Suites, in Avon, Ohio that resulted in a gentleman who entered the hotel being apprehended and briefly detained by local authorities. This was a terrible misunderstanding and we deeply regret what happened to Mr. Al Menhali. Diversity and inclusion is a core principle of Marriott’s operations and we remain committed to providing a welcoming environment. We have been in regular contact with the hotel since the incident and we will be following up to discuss diversity and inclusion training designed to help prevent this type of situation.’
Despite if the majority of your Western home town is white, welcoming guests from other countries and wearing thawb and guthra is one of the most important principles of hospitality. Every hotel is part of the ‘land of religious freedom’.
The latest incident is like a memorial for the hospitality industry worldwide. Remember always, as stated by Marriott, ‘we remain committed to providing a welcoming environment’.