Where to stay for an eco-friendly travel experience? Marriott vs. Hilton

Choosing a hotel chain is more art than science. Knowing how to choose a hotel that is right for you will make a huge difference to your travel experience.  If you are choosing a resort, you will probably end up spending quite a bit of time in your hotel.  However, even if you are just looking for a place to sleep, after a long day out and about, where you come back to at the end of the day is an important decision.

Two of the most popular hotels are the Marriott and Hilton. Both chains are almost certainly going to offer one or more hotels anywhere you are likely to travel. They also offer brands across the entire spectrum from midscale to luxury. Deciding which hotel to stay at can be a tough decision, so we’ve tried to break down both chains and what your purchase will support.

Why you should trust us

At Ethically, we compile scores from over 700 verified sources to create a granular profile of more than 10,000 companies and brands, evaluating their impact on the environment, society at large, and good business. You can learn more about Ethically’s process in our Methodology and you can see the scores yourself by downloading the Ethically browser extension.

The companies

Marriott

Marriott International, Inc. is an American multinational company that operates, franchises, and licenses lodging including hotel, residential, and timeshare properties  It is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland. The company was founded by J. Willard Marriott and his wife Alice Marriott; the executive chairman of the company is now their son, Bill Marriott and the Marriott family retains majority ownership of the company. Marriott is the largest hotel chain in the world by the number of available rooms. It has 30 brands with 7,642 properties containing 1,423,044 rooms in 131 countries and territories. 

Hilton

Hilton Hotels & Resorts is a global brand of full-service hotels and resorts and the flagship brand of American multinational hospitality company Hilton. The original company was founded by Conrad Hilton. As of December 30 , 2019, there were 584 Hilton Hotels & Resorts properties with 216,379 rooms in 94 countries and territories across six continents. This includes 61 properties that are owned or leased with 219,264 rooms, 272 that are managed with 119,612 rooms, and 251 that are franchised with 77,451 rooms.In 2020, Fortune magazine ranked Hilton Hotels & Resorts at number one on their Fortune List of the Top 100 Companies to Work For in 2020 based on an employee survey of satisfaction.

Scores Overview

These two companies are close when it comes to their ESG measurements. There are distinct differences that make one company’s score a bit higher than the other. 

Overall, Marriott scored a 55/100 and Hilton scored a 60/100. This difference is mostly highlighted in their social responsibility and governance scores but Marriott gets slightly beaten by Hilton when it comes to their track record on environment policies. 

Let’s dive in (Reminder, check out our Methodology for definitions on each of these subtopic scores)

Impact on the environment

Impact on the environment relates to how a company or brand impacts the natural world around us. This could be related to the products they create, their manufacturing policies, or even their corporate response to climate change. Marriott and Hilton both impact the environment in a number of ways, from their manufacturing policies to the products they produce. Below are more details comparing these two companies. 

Marriott

Score: 64

Hilton 

Score: 63

Comparison

Marriott has a one point advantage over Hilton, with the environment score being 64 to 63. These scores will largely have to do with their compliance with environmental regulations, energy efficient operations and development of renewable energy and alternative environmental technologies. 

Upon further examination within the score category, Marriott scored a 67/100 in Energy & Climate change, a 60/100 in Environment Policy & Reporting and a 65/100 in Resource Management. On the other hand, Hilton scored a 69/100 in Energy & Climate change, a 57/100 in Environment Policy & Reporting and a 64/100 in Resource Management.

Impact on social responsibility

Social responsibility includes all the things that make a company “good”. Whether that’s giving back to the community, standing up for equal rights, treating workers fairly. Marriott and Hilton both have a number of policies around LGBTQ+ rights, community outreach, and equal pay and rights for all.

Marriott

Score: 58

Hilton 

Score: 64

Comparison

The most significant difference in scoring between both companies’ is in the  Social Responsibility category, where Marriott scores a 58/100 and Hilton scores a 64/100.This category includes all programs, policies and performance in diversity, labor relations and labor rights. It also focuses on compensation and benefits as well as employee safety. 

The major differences were the respective companies’ Diversity and Labor rights rankings Marriott: 58 vs. Hilton: 65, Training, Health & Safety rankings Marriott: 58 vs. Hilton: 65 and Compensation with Marriott: 57 vs. Hilton: 63 score.

Quality of corporate governance

Corporate governance is much like social responsibility, but for how the company operates internally. Do they have a diverse board? Is there transparency in accounting? Are they doing what they need to do to survive and operate in an ethical and correct manner? Marriott and Hilton both are large public companies with shareholders and boards they answer to.

Marriott

Score: 52

Hilton 

Score: 53

Comparison

Hilton has the final one point advantage over Marriott, with the Governance score being 53 to 52. The Governance score refers to leadership structure and the values that determine corporate direction, ethics and performance.

Upon further analysis, Hilton pulls away from Marriott in the rankings of Board (55 vs 52) and in Leadership Ethics (53 vs 52). However, Marriott has the point advantage in Transparency & Reporting (53 vs 54) 

Summary

Ethically partners with CSRHub as a primary data source, which in turn, aggregates over 700 data sources, compiling them into simple, easy to digest grades. 

Marriott and Hilton are two very popular hotel chains. Understanding the practices and policies of each company gives consumers the power to determine what they will and will not support. Hilton’s score is five points higher than Marriott’s. As observed throughout the comparisons, Marriott lacks behind in the Social Responsibility Category; however, both companies score similarly in the Environment and Governance categories.If you’re a Marriott advocate and want to see more evidence that they’re committed to these areas, email our CEO at jada@ethically.life and let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

If you want to stay up to date on how these companies are progressing with their scores, make sure you download Ethically. We pull data regularly to make sure our scores reflect how companies are doing today, not years ago.

As always, please check out our Methodology page for more details on how we get our ratings data.

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