One of our company's proudest accomplishments is Courtyard by Marriott. The birth of Courtyard in 1983, thirty years ago, is a perfect example of how keeping your eyes and ears open to the marketplace can help you make a good business decision. Until Courtyard’s debut, Marriott had focused only on full-service hotels. When we decided to go after the moderate-priced hotel segment, we pulled out all the stops. We interviewed hundreds of business travelers and asked them what they wanted for a new hotel. They said we want a better room at a lower price. I told our people, you mean we spent a million dollars in research to find out that our guests want a better room at a lower price. Well, that's what happened. We spent hundreds of nights siting in competitors’ hotel rooms taking a lot of notes about the furniture, the layout and service. All this went into the design of Courtyard by Marriott.CNN
Launching Courtyard was a big cultural change. Previously, we built and operated what we called “big box” hotels with all the bells and whistles. Little boxes were what “other” companies were doing. We executed a rather startling mind-shift. Many viewed it beneath us to build a hotel with no room service or doorman. “Embracing change” has always been one of our core values. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't.
Opening that first Courtyard outside of Atlanta ended a three-year journey all shrouded in secrecy. It was a success because we studied the marketplace, the business travel trends, and listened to our customers. And they responded. Today, Courtyard is one the world’s most powerful hospitality brands. It's our largest brand by number of hotels with over 900 hotels and also the second largest revenue generator in our company. It taught us the importance of listening to our guests. We found out that they really did want a better room at a lower price.
We haven’t stopped listening to them either. Our Courtyard lobbies have evolved allowing our guests great spaces to socialize or do their work. The rooms have been redesigned with moveable desks and new spaces for clothes and luggage. As we expand globally, our international Courtyard hotels take on many cultural elements from those regions in which they are located.
We learned some valuable lessons from creating Courtyard. Don’t be afraid to embrace change. Courtyard by Marriott is one of our most successful undertakings. Take a look at the global celebration that took place earlier this month. It truly shows how the brand’s popularity has spread worldwide. Happy 30th birthday Courtyard!
Leave a comment on something you did to embrace change. I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.