Marriott Joins the Fight for Fifteen

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The fight for fifteen is, of course, the ongoing campaign supporting a $15 minimum wage. I’ve written about the various empirical studies of this issue (click here, click here, click here, click here) as well as a few case studies (click here, click here). Marriott joins the fight for fifteen today. But, in this case, “joins” has a less commonly used meaning: join battle.

Grab and Go Kiosk Marriott Joins the Fight for Fifteen

A Grag and Go Kiosk (source:

Today’s New York Post includes this piece: “A Marriott hotels pilot is replacing desk clerks with automated kiosks.” I suspect you can guess the reason for this experiment. But Marriott has a cover story:

Marriott said the so-called “contactless arrival kiosks” are meant to ease customers’ fears about getting COVID-19 by interacting with hotel staff. As such, they are equipped with “antimicrobial technology baked into the touchscreen glass, powered by UV light to kill bacteria and viruses,” Marriott said in a Monday press release.

Yeah. Sure. COVID-19 has been the cover story for more business and government activities than I want to count. Here’s what an industry expert says:

But industry experts see the kiosks as a cost-cutting move — and a step towards self-checkout automation that has been pioneered in recent years by grocery stores, big-box retailers and fast-food restaurants including McDonald’s, which has installed kiosks at some locations to take customers’ orders.

The article closes by noting that high-end hotels like Ritz-Carlton and Regis are likely to keep the personal touch. Ironically, both those chains are owned by Marriott.

Marriott's Moxy Hotel on Times Square Marriott Joins the Fight for Fifteen

Kiosk Check-in at Marriott’s Moxy Hotel on Times Square (source:

Years ago, it became apparent that U.S. education was going to be divided into two categories. High-reputation universities would continue using their high-touch, in-classroom education model. Down at the state university and community college level, classes would be very large sections (minimum 150 students). We called this the no-touch model. Technology appears to have extended this division to restaurants and hotels. The question is which industry will be next? My guess: airlines will use robots to distribute snacks and check seating assignments.


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About Tony Lima

Retired after teaching economics at California State Univ., East Bay (Hayward, CA). Ph.D., economics, Stanford. Also taught MBA finance at the California University of Management and Technology. Occasionally take on a consulting project if it's interesting. Other interests include wine and technology.