When we open the doors to a new hotel, we also open the doors to a world of opportunity for people who may never have imagined that they could work for a company like Marriott.
Philip Papadopoulos is the general manager of the Jordan Valley Marriott Resort & Spa and recently told me the inspiring story of how his hotel helped poor farmers and herdsmen in Jordan break out of the bounds of poverty.
Since it opened in 2002, the Jordan Valley Marriott Resort has looked for dedicated people to successfully run the 250-room hotel. They recruited associates from the capital city of Amman, but they also took a bold step to source employees from two local villages.
The idea of working at a resort was only a dream for those villagers who depended on the land for their livelihood. They endured below-poverty conditions with family members living in one room, no plumbing, thin walls, and dirt floors on which they placed their blankets to sleep.
When the hotel’s human resources team reached out to these farmers, many locals questioned the wisdom of such a move. But they soon found that a number of farmers were eager to work for the resort. The hotel training team first offered them hygiene, grooming and etiquette classes. Then they taught them hospitality skills. And finally the farmers and herdsmen were offered English lessons so they could talk to our guests.
Philip said the team went on to do even more for these associates. For example, rather than discard used, but still very useful items like furniture, mattresses and linen, they donated them to the associates, who had little more than a ragged blanket, a few chickens and some sheep.
The risk of hiring these villagers has really paid off. Nine years later more than half the associates working at the hotel are from that same little village. Philip says, “They come to work eager to serve, their shoes polished and their smiles wide.”
I can’t tell you how happy I am to hear stories like Philip’s. I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.