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Steve Jobs: Relentless Pursuit of Excellence

Posted:01/30/2012 3:49 PM

Recently, I had an opportunity to read the story of Apple’s Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.  I found it fascinating and well done.  
Steve Jobs Cover

We all know that Jobs changed the world with his many creations at Apple and Pixar Films.  Isaacson wrote, “Steve Jobs became the greatest business executive of our era. The one most certain to be remembered a century from now. History will place him in the pantheon right next to Edison and Ford.  Was he smart, no, not exceptionally; instead, he was a genius.  His imaginative leaps were instinctive, unexpected, and at times, magical.” 

I‘ve always been interested in why some businessmen and women are successful and some are not.  There are several sound business principles that Jobs executed that all business people should study.  Isaacson wrote, “Some leaders push innovations by being good at the big picture; others do so by mastering the details.  Jobs did both relentlessly.”  And relentlessly is the key word.  

When my father would hire someone, he would always look for a person who had a lot of drive.  Jobs was relentless in pursuit of excellence.  He never, never gave up until he met his objective.  And, even then, he was never satisfied.  My father was also a perfectionist and worked hard for perfection in everything he did.  We always say in our company that ”success is never final.”  This is a phrase my father came up with.    

Jobs was a good judge of people and surrounded himself with “A” players.  He had a fantastic team and held them accountable.  I found his leadership style with his team extremely demanding which is ok.  But he was often mean, overly critical and quite unfair many times.  This is not ok.

Jobs realized the great importance of focus and when he returned to lead Apple in 1997, he fixed that company by cutting all except a few core products.  His basic focus caused his Apple team to work intensely to perfect and create just a few truly great products. 

Along with his intense focus, there was a dedication to simplicity – not only in the end product but also with the team at the home office.  Jobs’ products were his motivation.  And his motivation was not profits.  

My father and I had frequent heated discussions about quality versus profits.  In my early days, I accused my Dad of being very unreasonable in his intense focus on great food and service but also wanting increased profitability.  I learned you can do both and that is, in my opinion, management’s ultimate challenge.

Dad believed, as Jobs did, that if the product is perfect, the profits would be there.  And for Apple, they certainly were.  Isaacson wrote that, “In May 2010, Apple surpassed Microsoft as the world’s most valuable technology company and by September 2010, it was worth 70% more than Microsoft.” 

Steve Jobs – what a guy!  

I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.

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The Year of the Dragon

Posted:01/23/201212:03 PM

ChineseHAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR!

MarHKSkyCityBanner

2012 is the year of the Dragon. Let the week-long celebrations begin. That’s right, an entire week of brilliant fireworks and colorful parades. It’s truly an amazing spectacle. Think Times Square – but a whole lot bigger!

Our Marriott hotels in Shanghai, Beijing and Sanya, will have ceremonies featuring Chinese drummers and Kung Fu artists. Food is also very important to New Year's celebrations. The Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott Hotel created a unique dim sum dumpling menu in honor of the Dragon.  Each dish is a work of art. 

Chinese New Year Coconut Pudding and Taro and Turnip Cake. 

Loh Hei Chinese Salmon Salad.

Pancake with pan-fried goose liver, sliced pork and chicken liver. 

Chinese-New-Year-Food
The JW Marriott Hotel in Seoul celebrates with Korean customs.  Marriott employees wear colorful Korean costumes and hand out traditional treats like sticky rice cakes. 

Marriott hotels are truly apart of the communities they call home.  Like the dragon that represents strength, passion and good fortune, Marriott has strength in its brands, passion in its guests and good fortune for continued growth.  Recently, we signed our 100th hotel in China and are opening one hotel a month during the next three years. Each Asian hotel opening has its own traditional celebration. I dotted the eye of the lion in 2007 when Marriott opened its 3,000th property, JW Marriott Beijing.   Dotting eye of lion - JW Marriott Beijing opening 2007

Later this year, I plan on traveling back to China with my family.   I’ll be 80-years old and I can’t wait to learn more about its customs and help promote tourism.  So, happy New Year to our friends in Asia. Good fortune to everyone.

I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.Chinese

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A Big Day for U.S. Tourism

Posted:01/20/201212:26 PM

"The more folks who visit America, the more Americans we get back to work.”

 -- President Obama, January 19, 2012

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Destination Board

This year 1 billion people are expected to travel outside their own countries to see and experience the world.  And for every 35 of those international visitors, one job is created. 

That's why President Obama went to Disneyworld this week to talk about the importance of travel and tourism in creating American jobs.  He also knows that when someone from another country visits the United States, they generally go home a fan, and that's good for our world diplomacy. 

But since 9-11 our visa policies have unintentionally put up a big virtual wall around our country.  Last session in Congress, there were several bills dealing with the barriers to travel, all geared toward making the process smoother for international visitors to travel to the United States.  President Obama & Bill Marriott

Those Congressional efforts were led by Senators Klobuchar and Blunt, and they deserve a lot of credit for pointing out ways the government can do better to harness the economic opportunities that come with more travel.

President Obama, his Cabinet and Ambassadors like Gary Locke in China "get it," too. They want to compete for international visitors in the global marketplace.

So here's what President Obama has promised and we look forward to working with him to accomplish it:

  • For the first time, a President has set goals to increase VISA capacity and shorten wait times, and the State Department and Department of Homeland Security are charged with making it happen.  Way to go Mr. President!
  • He is focused on improving the process in high-demand countries like China and Brazil. There are millions of people in these countries with the economic resources to travel and we want to make the process better so they come to New York, Las Vegas, Disneyworld, or Miami Beach.
  • And the President promised to improve our entry experience through programs like Global Entry, to ensure a welcoming process once these travelers get here.

JW Marriott Marquis Miami

To coordinate this effort, he instructed the Departments of Commerce and Interior to work with the new “Brand USA” to create a strategy to promote travel to the United States.  Marriott has also committed three-million to the campaign.

We are proud to make that investment because Marriott, like the President, believes in this country and our terrific travel and tourism industry.  The more people that experience it, the better!

He also appointed new members to the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board.  They will help ensure these great changes get executed and our very own Executive Vice President, Kathleen Matthews, is one of the new Board members.  Kathleen keeps me on track, so I know she'll do the same with the State Department!

I'm thrilled to see this great initiative take shape and applaud President Obama’s leadership.  Go Brand USA!

I'm Bill Marriott, and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move!

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Lessons of a Soda Jerk

Posted:01/17/2012 2:44 PM

My very first job was a soda jerk and that taught me a lot about customer service.  It was very busy, especially on the weekends. Filling orders in a timely way was a challenge and great fun.  I was thrown into the front lines and was stuck many times. When I got behind, it took a long time for me to build a banana split. This was back in 1952 at our Hot Shoppes Restaurant in Silver City, Utah.  I worked as a soda jerk while I was a student at the University of Utah.  Hot Shoppes counter

My dad would often come out to Utah and check on our restaurant.  He'd check on everything.  He was so detailed oriented.  It wasn’t often expressed back then, but he was very “hands-on.”  From the company’s founding in 1927, he believed in an unrelenting commitment to meet customer needs.  That core value is one of the bedrocks of our corporate culture.  Everything my father did was based on listening to the customers and giving them what they wanted.

Today, Marriott has grown to about 300,000 associates working in nearly 3700 hotels in 72 countries around the world.  Most of our associates come in contact with our guests.  They’ve been trained to listen and to try to give them what they want.  In our training classes, that important encounter is called a touch point or impression.  I call it good old customer service.  It’s the number one reason for repeat business.

It’s also important to thank our customers.  When I was a soda jerk, I’d add a little extra cherry or a little extra chocolate syrup to our customers' sundaes.  I knew if they got a really good dessert, they would return.

I did something this past year that I haven't done for a long time.  I threw a holiday party at my house for our global sales team and their top 150 clients.  I wanted to let them know how much we appreciate their business.  It was a small gesture although my wife, Donna, may beg to differ.  She worked very hard making sure the house was decorated properly and the food was great. HolidayParty

You can never lose sight of why our business continues to thrive and grow globally – it’s the customer and a culture of service that strives for excellence.  

So, no matter how large the business, listen to people.  I remember how my father would sit down and talk with customers.  Then, he’d go back in the back of the house, in the kitchen, and make changes to the restaurant menus or add something new to a hotel based on their suggestions.

At the customer appreciation party many customers told me that they talked to me on the phone when I called them on our annual customer appreciation day.  Many remembered where they were, if they were out of the office, when they received the call as a lot of them were traveling.  I told them in spite of my reassignment they would continue to hear from me in the future.   

So leave a comment on your favorite hotel experience.

I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.

Listen to blog Lessons of a Soda Jerk 

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Monumental Courage and Conviction of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (originally posted for MLK memorial dedication Oct. 2011)

Posted:01/13/201210:56 AM

My parents founded our company in 1927, nearly 30 years before the Civil Rights Movement.  It didn’t matter to them who or what you were, you were welcome.  Back then in the South, here in Washington, D.C., this was a courageous move. But they stuck to their beliefs.

Boardroom Photo

Martin Luther King, Jr. stood up for what he believed in.  I'm still amazed at how he was able to change the face of not just our great country, but of the world.  His courage and heroism continue to inspire me. (Dr. King's portrait is in our boardroom with a note from Coretta Scott King.)

Sunday October 16 was the official dedication of a memorial to Dr. King.  I was really proud Marriott associates were among the throngs of people from across the nation and around the world.  His beliefs of protesting using non-violent means for social change are evident today.  

Dr. King’s speeches and sermons combined themes of democracy deeply embedded in the American conscience, and reinvigorated these messages with clear and insightful reflections on the true meaning of justice and equality. 

Although I never met Dr. King, he is such an inspiration that I was honored to serve on the Martin Luther King Executive Leadership Council to help make this memorial a reality. 

I encourage you to visit the memorial to experience more than a monument, but a place dedicated to honoring a great humanitarian.   

I leave you with one of my favorite Dr. King quotes: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”  

I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the Move. 

(Leave a comment on your thoughts of Dr. King.)

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Checking In as a Guest, Leaving as Family

Posted:01/09/201210:33 AM

Joy Bricker went public at the age of 79.  She’s famous for being the 10-year guest at TownePlace Suites in Falls Church, Virginia.  Ten years … in the same room!  Now that’s loyalty and a lot of Rewards points.  It also makes for a great media story.

When Joy announced she was checking-out to move in with her daughter in New York, the media converged -- The Washington Post, CNN and ABC Channel 7 News.  Before you knew it, folks around the world were talking about the lady who for ten years made Marriott her home. 

International Stories

What makes this story so great is not the long “extended stay,” but the “extended family.”  When Joy arrived at the hotel, she was recently widowed and looking for work.  She found a government job and decided not to move out.  

The hotel staff invited her to their homes for dinners and baby showers. The GM visited her when she was in the hospital.  After all, that’s what family does and Joy was family.

People often asked her why she didn’t buy a condo or rent an apartment.  Her answer was that TownePlace Suites made her feel safe, comfortable, and part of their community.  I call that hospitality: caring for our guests, making them feel at home.  And that’s what keeps guests coming back or in Joy’s case staying for a decade – a long time!

On Joy’s moving day, the hotel team members shed some tears when they said goodbye.   After all, a member of their family and recent media star was on her way out.   

I’m told that Joy doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about.   Well, it’s about family, an unusual “extended” family.  

I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.

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I'm Bill Marriott, Chairman & CEO of Marriott International.

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