Hotel room alarm clocks are vestiges of the past that more often annoy or frustrate than help. Marriott’s latest idea to ditch alarm clocks is one cutback I can sign onto, especially if it saves breakfast or other amenities on the chopping block.
Marriott Is Considering Removing Alarm Clocks
Marriott is considering eliminating alarm clocks from hotel rooms across its portfolio of brands. Scott Mayerowitz learned of the news at a breakfast with Marriott executives, in which it was noted:
“The key thing is we have to be able to figure out how to service our guests at the end of the day. And the vast majority of our owners would agree with us,” he said, noting that it isn’t about cuts but about practical needs, such as the alarm clock. “It’s been a wonderful opportunity to look at some of those things that are historic in nature and have no application in terms of the real life we live in today.”
It’s not about costs…but of course it’s about costs.
False Dilemma: Cutbacks Are Not Needed
Let’s start with a red line: this is totally a false dilemma. Hotels in the USA were bailed out during the pandemic and now face unprecedented demand as consumers ramp up travel. Expect unprecedented profit to follow, especially with all the cutbacks to housekeeping, breakfast, and other amenities at properties ranging from budget and luxury.
In that sense, the premise is false and there are no cutbacks that need to be made. Instead, hotels should be restoring service to pre-pandemic levels instead of greedily trying to extract more cutbacks and higher prices. On the flip side, hotels seem to be doing just fine and therefore the squeeze will continue. One can hardly blame them for seizing the moment, though the pendulum will turn again…
I Still Don’t Like Hotel Alarm Clocks
But I will say that I do detest alarm clocks in hotel rooms. First, it seems like more often than not the clocks are incorrectly set. I just experienced that this week…no one had bothered to update the clock for daylight savings time (which occurred months ago).
Second, I hate it when the alarm clocks goes off in the middle of the night because no one bothered to reset it. I should not have to examine an alarm clock I do not plan on using to see if it is enabled or not. Indeed, I’ve started just unplugging the clock if the outlet is easily reachable.
Furthermore, it’s annoying to see that so many hotels still have 30-pin Apple ports (for what are now very ancient iPhones and iPads), which really makes the charging capability useless. With USB-C charging around the corner, I feel bad for the the hotels that are now “updating” their alarm clocks to Apple’s lightning port, as those will soon be out-of-date as well.
I do like the latest generation alarm clocks with the wireless charger on top in which you just place your mobile phone on it. But if I did not have that, I’d just plug in my own cable…which charges even more rapidly.
Some of you may say that older travelers rely upon alarm clocks in order to look at the time at night or set an alarm in the morning. While I understand that glancing at a clock may be more convenient than checking a phone, it is very easy to schedule a wake-up call even at budget properties. Alternately, you can just say, “Siri, set an alarm for 6:00am” and voila, you’re all set.
While discussion over what to cut next is based upon a false premise that further cuts need to be made, since hotels seem to be in cost-cutting mode I offer my input that I’d far rather see alarm clocks disappear than free breakfast eliminated or reduced.
I haven’t used the alarm function on a hotel alarm clock in years but the clock itself is normally the only clock in the room. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a clock to be visible. I might have my phone plugged in across the room and it isn’t handy or I’m just trying not to look at it.
I don’t care about the alarm clock but a clock should be expected.
I hate alarm clocks at hotels. The first thing I do when I get to my room is to unplug it from the wall. Some are so jurassic that you need a training to figure out how to disable the alarm so it is easier to just unplug it. I had times when someone left the alarm clock set to go off in the middle of the night on an adjacent room with nobody there and it ruined my night of sleep. Seriously, nobody needs these anymore.
I had a recent stay at a Fairmont property where the alarm clock’s bright red numbers illuminated the entire room like a shady brothel. I unplugged it but I guess it had a battery backup as well since it just wouldn’t die. Eventually I had to hide it inside the laundry bag in the closet (just putting it in the closet wasn’t enough as the closet door was slatted and the red light escaped from there too). Really really annoying.
“Furthermore, it’s annoying to see that so many hotels still have 30-pin Apple ports (for what are now very ancient iPhones and iPads), which really makes the charging capability useless. With USB-C charging around the corner, I feel bad for the the hotels that are now “updating” their alarm clocks to Apple’s lighting port, as those will soon be out-of-date as well.”
I was at an Airbnb last year and they had a little ‘lockbox’ over an outlet with a USB-C, Lightning, and Micro USB. USB-C was even fast enough to charge my laptop. Looked like they could easily open up the lockbox and replace a cable when necessary.
Replace hotel alarm clocks with that and hotels can stay up to date with whatever the latest charging requirements are for cheap.
100% agree with all of your points. And to add, older people are going to have a harder time trying to set an alarm clock than turning it on in your phone.
I occasionally use the clocks.
How about getting rid of the bedspread?
Couldn’t they just keep some alarm clocks in storage and offer them upon request, per availability?
It seems like this is rather a sunk cost, since presumably hotels own the alarm clocks they have and the clocks otherwise have no value. Is the thinking that it would save on utility costs?
I’ve watched Seinfeld enough to know that wake-up calls aren’t always reliable (but of course most hotel clocks have separate knobs, so that’s problematic too…)
To play Devil’s Advocate, as someone who’s blind as a bat without my glasses on, it is helpful to have a clock with big numbers on the nightstand that I can quickly glance at to check the time, without having to reach for the phone and squint (or walk across the room if the outlet isn’t handy to the bed).
That being said, you’re right, the clocks are more often than not annoying, so no great loss if they’re gone.
I couldn’t agree more, I always unplug the clock or cover it with a hand towel! Let’s also remove the phone!
Seems like outside of the US, most televisions in hotel rooms have clocks built in. And I like a clock available.
I am wary of hotel clocks for the reasons you mention – wrong time, alarm set in the middle of the night – as well as concerned about nanny cams built in. Yes, they always seem to have been built for iPods circa 2003.
Now let’s talk about in-room safes – does anyone follow the LockPickingLawyer on Youtube? Seems like it is more difficult to get the alarm clock set correctly than to get in the safes.
Marriott just joined the digital age in 2019, so I am surprised they are doing this.
Marriott continued to print paper folios and creepily pushed them under the doors years into the digital age.
Will Marriott ever get their “digital keys” to work as well as Hilton’s?
Marriott IT truly sucks, they really aren’t in the digital age yet
As a 35 year airline veteran I spend half my life in hotels. Instead of a simple alarm clock with set buttons they install complex devices that need to be programmed and then no instructions. I would like a round with the idiots making these choices. For you hotel types reading this, keep them simple. Missing a crew call is not a good thing. Hotels automate wake-up calls and they get those right 50%. Oh and then there is the programmable alarm clock that wakes you at 3am. At least in Europe crews still get a call from a human. If you don’t answer they come knocking.
And the alarm frequency on some, I am unable to hear with my hearing loss. Need a nice loud NAVY battle stations call.
They are pretty much right up there with the quarter massage function at 70’s hotels. If I had discussed this as an executive at Marriott though I would have said “We need to be more engaged with what our customers really need. Let’s remove alarm clocks and replace them with bedside charging ports at all properties that we can quickly adapt to new technology in the future.”
Having had them go off in the middle of the night, I would agree.
BTW before reading these comments it had never occurred to set a hotel alarm clock to like, 2:30 AM before I check out, just to pointlessly disrupt the lives of complete strangers, but now I have something to look forward to…
Of course I want a clock in the room: I’m not going to look at a phone to check the time. Clocks are not redundant, even if the alarm function is not required.
I want alarm clocks to stay, just keep them simply, no need for a docking station or one that is difficult to set a wake up time. What I hate is fumbling around for my cell phone to see what time it is. Let them stay, if they are to bright put a wash cloth over them, no need to ruin it for all of us.
What a tragedy!