Uncharted Territory

January 15, 2007

I'm venturing into uncharted territory as I launch this blog. A year ago, I didn't even know what a blog was -- until my Communications team began telling me about all the blog traffic on travel and tourism. Now I know this is where the action is if you want to talk to your customers directly -- and hear back from them. Soon we'll add an audio version of the blog. That's how I'm most comfortable: telling stories and listening.

I've checked out Jonathan Schwartz's blog at Sun Microsystems and "Randy's Journal" at Boeing. I've listened to Senator Barack Obama's blog podcasts. I know blogs will be a hot communications tool in the 2008 Presidential campaign.

Truth be told, I'm not very good with computers, although I couldn't do business in today's fast-paced economy without my cell phone, and my grandchildren have gotten me hooked on my iPod. I know our guests expect the very latest technology when they check-in to our hotel rooms and we're moving quickly to provide that. I've also hired the most talented and innovative team of leaders in the lodging business, and they're helping me move into this brave new world of communications technology. Ten years ago when my people first started talking about selling room reservations over the internet, I was a skeptic. Today Marriott.com is not only the biggest website in the hotel industry, it's also our fastest growing reservations channel. I'm a convert!

Pioneering new frontiers is how this company was built. Eighty years ago, my parents, J. Willard and Alice Marriott, traveled cross-country as newlyweds to Washington, D.C. from Salt Lake City. They opened up a root beer stand on 14th Street which they later called "The Hot Shoppe." That was the same year aviation pioneer Charles Lindbergh made his first transatlantic flight to Paris. The company has evolved and grown tremendously over the years. In 2007, we hope to open our 3,000th hotel. We are now a global lodging company. But as my father always said, "Success is never final." That's why I want to celebrate our 80th anniversary milestone by moving Marriott continuously into the future -- without losing sight of the number one reason for our success: responding to changing customer needs and making sure our associates are well cared for so they in turn take care of our customers.

Blogging will allow me to do what I've been doing for years -- on a global scale. Talking to the customer comes easily to me. I visit 250 hotels around the world every year. This year I'll be traveling once again to China where we have 27 hotels, 16 under construction and many more in our development pipeline. At every hotel, I talk to associates, from housekeepers to general managers, to get their feedback. I call it "management by walking around." Like my parents, I value the input from our associates at all levels. I make lots of notes -- and my best ideas almost always come from our people in the field.

Our 143,000 associates are truly the people who make Marriott a world-class business. I want to share some of their stories with you in future blogs. We are a company that is built on opportunity, and that foundation has made us successful.

Occasionally, I'll blog about current events -- even touch on controversial topics. Every American and everyone who wants to be an American deserves a chance to pursue the American dream of financial independence. That's why I'm passionate about immigration reform and offering people a path to citizenship. I'll share my ideas about that in a future blog.

Finally, a lot of people ask me how a root beer stand that started in 1927 has grown into a global business and how we've managed that growth. It's a great American story with some truly funny anecdotes. One of these days, I'll tell you about my father's passion for astro-turf -- and it wasn't on the football field.

Bottom line, I believe in communicating with the customer, and the internet gives me a whole new way of doing that on a global scale. I'd rather engage directly in dialogue with you because that's how we learn and grow as a company.

So tell me what you think, and together we'll keep Marriott on the Move!

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The smoking fine is highway robbery. Our employees were on a business trip and smoked outside, took the butts back inside to put in the trash. After they checked out and received a normal invoice, an extra $250.00 charge showed up on the credit card account as a smoking fee. There was no smoking in the room it was outside. Would you prefer that the butts were left on the sidewalk outside? Makes no sense what so ever. Except we will never have our employees stay at Marriott again.

I have been a Marriott member and frequent business customer for over 10 years and yes, I do smoke in my house! I pay for it! Just as I've paid to be a Marriott customer. I understand non-smokers not wanting to be around the smell of cigarettes, just as I hate being around people who drink, so I don't go near bars. I have to travel for my job, to pay for that house I smoke in! I only ask business' who've decided to favor you, the non-smoker , do you not want this smoker's business? Why weren't other considerations made for the smoker? Not sound business. I have taken my money elsewhere, and with this going nationally with most major hotels, I'm working this out to where I won't travel at all. You've communicated to me most eloquently you don't need nor desire my money. I can stay home.

Mr.Marriott I think that it is fantastic that you have embraced technology and are blogging.Thanks for the shout-out to my post! The concierge idea is a great one for technical support that requires very focused, one-on-one attention. It could be a trend-setter.

I'm delighted that Marriott has established a 100% smokefree policy. It will provide clean, safe air for associates and guests. I'm sorry to hear that Marriott will violate its policy on November 20, 2007, in the Marriott Marquis. You will provide dirty, unsafe air for associates and guests. And you will violate the promise you made to the public.

Bill I have tried to communicate to you to let you know how your custimers are treated when issues arrise but seems hard when no one will comunicate back, Your bottom line, must have filters keeping you in the dark of unpleasent issues. Bottom line, I believe in communicating with the customer, and the internet gives me a whole new way of doing that on a global scale. I'd rather engage directly in dialogue with you because that's how we learn and grow as a company.

I stumbled upon your blog while looking for a way to communicate with you about the lunacy of a recent experience with Chase Marriott. I am impressed with your willingness to open the company to what could be a significant amount of constructive and other feedback. It strikes me that if your partners had a similar attitude you might not be at risk of losing loyal customers like me who have the potential to bring Marriott 75-plus room nights a year over a $119 dispute. Evidently they haven't figured out that the competition out there for the consumer dollar is pretty intense. Thank you for the opportunity.

Well done on launching the blog. I think you will become an addict soon enough - here is certainly a place where you can communicate wholly with your customer, and that everyone else can get to know you and your plans, passions etc. a little better, giving your hotels a more personal feel (back like in the old days.)
Excellent way forward - I am eager to see how blogs will effect the presidential elections in 2008 as well. Should be very interesting!

I Have been reading everthing I can find about Willard and Alice Marriott and how they got started. How did they financially make the jump from the Hot Shoppes to the Hotels. Was getting into the Hotel business a risks/venture they had looked into? Did they have to put collateral up from the Hot Shoppes to makeit a go or di they have enough revenue from the business to start the first Hotel.
Thankyou. Carolyn Tyler

I recently stayed at the Horseshoe Bay Resort Marriott. Beautiful place. I was impressed with everything except housekeeping. They need to audit their housekeepers skills more regularly. Also I am a smoker. But i do not smoke in my own house and do not smoke in any hotel motel we stay at. I hate the smell of smoking rooms. I would go outside every time i felt i wanted a cigarette. My first nite stay in the hotel i was slapped a 250.00 smoking fine. Now i wished i had smoked in the room...LOL.
Either when maint had to come because our room would not cool or when we had room service they must have smelt my pack of cigs that had partial smoked cigs in it. That is all i can think of. Anyways... just a warning to other smokers. Dont bring back have smoked cigarettes or leave your pack where they can see them.
Other than that..... It was a great place to stay.

I had the opportunity to meet your brother Richard over the weekend at a fireside he gave at the Hyde Park Chapel in London. Absolutely fascinating (as is your blog). I spoke to him & his wife very briefly but i enjoyed the talk he gave & her musical item.
I would appreciate it if you could pass this on.
He mentioned about going bike riding in Switzerland - i hope he is prepared for the hills.
Would you have an opportunity to talk in London at all?
Best wishes
Eddie Tofpik

The JW Marriott Desert Springs Marriott Spa and Resort's golf course is in poor shape. When will you have the crew here bring it up to JW's standards?

I have read in some of the other comments that some people would like to see the famous burger of the 50's, the Mighty Mo come back. I, too, would very much like that. If that is not feasible, would you consider posting the 1953 Secret Recipe for the Mighty Mo Sauce or maybe you could start selling bottles of it in the supermarkets making it available to all. It was delicious!! Thanks.

I stay at Marriott hotels during my travel for business on a weekly basis. I understand Marriott rates their hotels. However, some of the hotels (Bloomington, MN and Ottawa, Ontario) are sub par. What is the policy for upgrading or capital improvements to existing hotels?

Hi Mr. Marriot, I didn't really know which category to comment so here it is:
Im very.. very happy to discover that the Marriot bought and renovated the Wentworth by the Sea in New Castle NH. I currently live in California and have for many years but am from Portsmouth NH originally. I used to ride my bike down to Newcastle as a teen and drive by the Old Dame when she was in disrepair and empty. I had never gone in, but looked on in awe for years. This year, as a Marriot Member, I was looking for hotels and areas to get married in and came across the Wentworth on Marriot.com...I was shocked at the beauty and excited to know she was up and running and looked magnificent. I booked a reservation with my family to stay there the first week in July and am very excited to experience the Wentworth from the inside....I'm sure alot of people are happy as I know many fought to preserve it. I'm sure this just old news to you, but new news to me and really means alot to me! Im looking forward to our stay there. It is like the East Coast version of the Hotel Del we have here in San Diego... Also, I am impressed that you do have a blog and its very personable, I like reading it and seeing that there is a real person behind the hotel name one who really cares about the world....Cheers to you and Thank you!...Cindi

Bill Marriott, its a brave new world and I'm proud of you...by the way how do I contact your marketing department regarding local advertising?

I was a long time Marriott rewards member and stayed much, I currently travel 3 weeks a month. The customer service is so bad, the managers attitudes so poor that I swtiched to the Westin, In fact, when Marriott's corporate customer service asked me what they could do to make things better from the last fiasco I told them a freestay ANYWHERE else but NOT THE MARRIOTT, In fact, this is a mantra to use when things are bad to reassure one.. Simply say to them, But at least your not a Marriott Beverly. Please contact me for details.

i am a former employee of marriott of 16 years standing overseas and finaly in the uk ,where ever i travel in the uk i always stay with marriott.I recently stayed in london county hall for new years eve ,it was a memorable stay the associates were very welcoming and professional .The hotel manager russell prior was highly visible the entire weekend interacting with the guests a credit to marriott.

Hi, Just came back from Aruba, and a guest sprained their ankle, so I thought that maybe the hotel should have on hand to rent large water beach wheelchairs for those of us who can't get around as fast or as good as we would like to. That way our love ones could wheel us onto the beach and even the water and still be able to enjoy our vacation. Please give it some thought. Thanks

Has anyone with Marriott looked into updating their Wikipedia entry? I love Wikipedia, but noticed the entry was a little sparse for Marriott...

For the smokers out there - Do you smoke in your own house? Better yet, do you smoke while your in your bed? Marriott will still allow you to smoke on property, only out on the balcony(if applicable).

Dear Amrriott,
This is my second post and as the first one did not make it I will say less and do more. No smoking means I will seek out other places to stay. You have no regard for all the needs of all your customers.

As a smoker, I'd like to weigh in on the smoking comments too. Bet if you asked each of the smokers on this blog if they've ever tried to quit, the answer would be yes. Will also bet if you asked them why they ever chose Marriott in the first place, the answer wouldn't be because they allowed smoking.
Many of us have been on long flights where smoking is not allowed. We eat in restaurants that don't allow it, we shop in grocery stores that don't allow it, in fact the majority of our lives is spent NOT smoking.
Just a few suggestions for us smokers who still consider Marriott the best hotel company in the world and will continue staying...
1)nicotine gum or lozenge
2)nicotine lozenge
3)ask for the lowest floor available (much shorter trip to the smoking area when you're dying to have a smoke!!!)
4)let the front desk staff know you're a smoker and ask them for suggestions that will make your stay more comfortable.
Hope this helps a few folks out there who, like me, aren't ready to quit smoking or staying at Marriott hotels.

As a mother of 2-year old triplets, fellow blogger, and career woman (with another baby on the way), I am often faced with business travels where I bring my children with me. Infact, next week, my husband and children will be joining me for a full week, as I attend a conference at the Warner Center Marriott.
I work for a large oil company and all of our hotel reservations are made with Marriott. Over the past few years I've noticed that more and more of my fellow coworkers travel with their children and spouses. What I think would be a BIG step to keep Marriott on the move in an evolving work atmosphere, are small play areas set up at some of your facilities. This would really help to accomodate those people who travel with children - or grandchildren.
Good luck with your blog!

I have read some of the comments by people who are complaining about the no smoking policy. I realize that it is difficult for them but I applaud Marriott for their step forward. Smoking may be legal as one person commented, but it sure isn't healthy for anyone especially the smoker. The smell gets into the linens, carpets, etc. and is difficult to remove. When I travel I want to walk into a fresh clean room, not a stale one. A lot of smokers are immune to how bad it smells but trust us, it does. I hope that instead of refusing to stay at Marriott, these people would use this new policy as an incentive to give up this awful habit. They will be much happier and healthier in the long run.
As a longtime Marriott rewards member, I have always found Marriott Hotels to have wonderful customer service and excellent properties. I know that it comes from the committment of the employees from the top on down. Congratulations on the 50 years in the business and here's to 50+ more!

Congratulations on 50 years? I attend SCJ, in CT and I am in a group writing a report on your company as an HPO. I found your blog space. if you have time feel free to email back.