I can’t believe it has been almost a year since the close of the Starwood acquisition. I am so proud of all of our associates and our integration teams for all of the hard work that they have done to make this a smooth transition. I would like to recognize one group which I consider one of the heroes of the integration for our hotels: the Worldwide Business Councils.
In the 1980s, Marriott owned 19 businesses. We had three cruise ships in the Mediterranean, two theme parks, a huge food service distribution division, In-Flite airline catering, restaurant chains, and senior living services…to name a few.
We needed a way to coordinate these businesses and to make the company feel more cohesive. So in 1987, my brother, Dick, and Charlie Linaburg started the first Business Councils to enable all of these business units to work together and discover and address their common challenges.
In the mid-80s and 1990s, Marriott started selling off these businesses and we became purely a lodging company. The Councils are now headed up mainly by General Managers and all hotels can participate, franchised or managed. They are tasked with three things:
1. To preserve and protect our treasured company culture.
2. To advocate for hospitality industry and hotel-specific issues.
3. To engage in community service.
Internationally, they also pool their resources and save the company a lot of money on procurement.
The community work that they do is truly remarkable. As my daughter Debbie, who runs our Councils, likes to say, “They are our boots on the ground.” They can be mobilized at the push of a button and are the first ones to help in any crisis. They were instrumental in situations like wildfires in Chile, floods last summer in Baton Rouge, cleanups after hurricanes and earthquakes around the globe, the civil unrest in Baltimore a few years ago, and the nightclub shooting in Orlando in 2016. They are our army of goodness and I can’t thank them enough for all of the good that they do!
Last fall, at the time of the Starwood close, there were 82 councils. All 82 of them visited more than 650 properties in the first seven days after the legal close. They invited all of the General Managers new to Marriott to receptions and to be a part of the Business Councils. Their warm welcome has enabled the new associates to feel a part of the Marriott family and to help them learn our culture and processes. Their contribution has been invaluable in making the integration a success.
Thanks to their work, the Business Councils have grown to 100 strong around the world. I am so proud of the work they have done and look forward to them keeping Marriott on the move!