It’s all about the customer. It was certainly true back in 1983 when we opened our first Courtyard Hotel and it’s true today as we gear up to open our one thousandth Courtyard. I would never have believed it.
Back when we had the idea to create a select-service hotel brand, there was a lot of debate internally and a lot of skepticism outside the company. We had been in the hotel business for thirty years so we sat down and decided to see what else we could do in the business. We did extensive research and asked our customers what they wanted in future hotels – after spending one million dollars on research we learned that all they wanted was a great room at a lower price – well duh! I asked our team, “Did we really have to spend a million to find out the obvious?”
Then when it came time to name this new hotel – our team wanted to do some more research – we called our project then, "Courtyard" because every hotel would be built around a beautiful courtyard with lots of landscaping and a large swimming pool. I said no more research- let’s just keep the Courtyard name, so we did. We took our guests seriously when they said they wanted to pay less, and said they would like to give up the frills and extra services for a lower price, so we downsized the restaurants, eliminated room service, and cut out the bell service and only had a small meeting room. We were able to give a better room at a lower price.
Courtyard was the beginning of our multi-brand concept. It was the first time within our company that we developed a new brand. It set off the multi-brand race among our competitors that has been benefiting the traveler ever since.
At the launch press conference in Atlanta for our very first Courtyard, I announced a big expansion plan to open 20, or even 30 new Courtyards in the next 18 months. No one envisioned 1000 Courtyards. Developing this brand is one of my proudest business accomplishments.
Today we tout 19 brands ranging from luxury to the hip Moxy lifestyle brand. Courtyard originally was designed for business travelers, but as social media and technology has changed the way business people travel, we recognize there is now a blur between work and fun and the brand team has evolved both the design and experience of our hotels to reflect that. The desks are smaller and the TV’s are much bigger.
For such a memorable milestone, we are throwing parties to thank our customers worldwide in places like Agra, India; Abu Dhabi, UAE; Berlin, Germany; Recife, Brazil and finally designating our 1,000th hotel in Walla Walla, Washington on March 31st. On that special day, we will be giving away rewards points to all our guests checking into one of the 1000 Courtyards.
Thanking our loyal guest is the best way that I know of to mark this great occasion, don’t you think? I hope you’re one of them!
Courtyard is the twelfth largest hospitality brand in the world and the largest number of hotels in our portfolio because we spent a million dollars to listen to our customers who told us what we already should have known - a better room at a lower price.
I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping us keep Marriott on the Move.