It feels like I've been celebrating my 80th birthday for weeks. The first celebration was at the JW Marriott Camelback Inn, the second at our GM's conference in Los Angeles and the third (and hopefully last) was at our corporate headquarters. My daughter Debbie helped me cut the cake. I've gained ten pounds in two weeks. The headquarters event really helped me reflect on how lucky I've been to work with so many wonderful and talented people who share my passion for hotels.
As a hotel guy who has been around for a while, I was thinking about what Marriott contributes to people’s lives. The answer is simple: just plain happiness. We provide a lot of that for people who stay in our hotels. They get married there and have their honeymoon in our hotels. They have their retirement parties and they have family reunions. And they have vacations. They bring their kids to have fun, swim in the pool and go out to eat.
Running a hotel is a wonderful opportunity to reach out and care for people, and create very great memories. For me, it’s a business that’s very, very satisfying. I don’t think I’d have much fun in a widget factory. But somebody has to do it and I hope they are happy doing it.
In addition to making our guests happy, we also want our associates to be happy. Every hotel serves as a listening post for me. I’ve tried very hard through the years to listen and ask questions. The main question to ask is "why." Why do you think that’s right? Why should we go in this direction? And then I try to listen to the answers by involving people in the process to help them make the decisions that affect the business and affect their lives.
It’s great to see people progress. Our average general manager has been with us 25 years. Fifty percent of our GM’s come out of the hourly ranks. It gives me a real thrill to see our people get ahead and have an opportunity to grow. We truly are a company that opens doors to a world of opportunity for both our guests and our associates.
As I turn 80, there’s no better birthday gift than opening the doors of opportunity for our people.
Please leave a comment and tell me about your favorite birthday gift. I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.