Fifty Years in the Hotel Business

January 19, 2007

Twin Bridges Marriott Motor Motel Hi, this is Bill Marriott, and I'm talking to you from my office at Marriott International Headquarters in Maryland.  You know, I've had a lot of great comments on that first blog.  Thank you for participating and for letting me know how you feel.

We have a great anniversary this week.  It's our 50th year in the lodging business.  It was 50 years ago on about January 18th that we opened the first Marriott Motor Hotel at the 14th Street Bridge in Washington.  It was just a big motel - 365 rooms.  We had an outside check-in so we could see who was in the car.  We got $8 a night for those rooms, and if there was an extra person in the car, we got $1 for every extra person.  So when we were busy, we got as much as $12 for a room.

Every room had two double beds and a television set.  They weren't color back in those days.  We had boys on bicycles that would take you to your room because we were a big, spread out motel.  We didn't have any room service. We didn't have any convention space.  I'm not sure how we took reservations - or if we took any at all.  It was a blast, and it was really fun trying to understand the business and understand the customer of the '50s.

Back then, my job was to handle the scissors at the ribbon-cutting.  My mom and dad cut the ribbon with a couple of great friends - two were in government and two were not.  There they stood cutting that ribbon.  I handed them the scissors, and we opened our first Marriott hotel.

We filled up during President Eisenhower's inaugural.  Then the day after the inaugural, we went down to 15 percent occupancy and stayed there until Easter, when everybody came to Washington.  However, we did fill up for the Washington's Birthday sales.  Everybody came to Washington back in those days for a $5 television set or whatever they could buy for a bargain because we had big Washington's Birthday sales back in 1957.

But it's been a ball to grow this business and watch it come from such a small beginning, and a very uncertain beginning because we did lose money for the first couple of years in the hotel business.  We asked ourselves many times, "What are we doing in this business?"  But here we are, and we continue to grow it.

Thanks a million for participating in our blog.  Many of you asked me for the recipe of the Mighty Mo's. You can find it by clicking on this link.  And that's my 50th anniversary gift to you!  Thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.

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Hello Bill, I, like many other people commenting here so far, am a Platinum Premier member of Marriott Rewards. Being a person who stays at Marriott so often I always wonder if I could get a moonlighting position evaluting your hotels in trade for a few extra nights per year. Anyway, thanks for creating this site. It's an excellent way to communicate directly with your loyal customers and I'm sure that you will get much excellent feedback that can help improve an already great company. AJ

Things sure have changed. Enjoy the anniversary and keep blogging!

I was one of the first Front Office Managers at Twin Bridges after having been FOM at the Key Bridge Marriott. I started as Night Auditor there in 1959 working for *** ***** and **** ****.In 1960 or 61 I worked in your office at River Roadwith **** ****** writing the very first Operating Manuals. Although I ended up as a senior banker in Beverly Hills for many years,those early years with Marriott Hotels are some of my happiest memories.I was also
honored to know both your father and mother and brother Dick. I Often talked with Mrs. Marriott as she sat in the lobby at Twin Bridges or out at Fairfield Farms. Thus,I cannot wait to read more of your blogs!

Congratulations to Marriott family and the business associates for making a remarkable accomplishment. There is a famous quote by David Burns, Aim for success, not perfection. Never give up your right to be wrong, because then you will lose the ability to learn new things and move forward with your life.
Marriott's brand was built on the principle of constant improvement based on its customers' feedback. Marriott family is a great friend to us and we wish them continued success for many years to come.
The Musara's Team

I was wondering if you allow posts from associates.

Congratulations on 50 years/80 years, and very cool ide with the blog.
I am a platinum with you, and will keep staying with you as many nights as I travel every year. In some cases, I've even had to drive a bit to get to one of your properties from a meeting place that was not as close as would be normally convenient. When you stay as many nights as I have over the years, it's nice to recognize the sheets, towels, drapes, desks, etc. It makes it a little less hard to be away from home as much.
I travel a little less these days (after 9/11), so it's a little harder to hit platinum each year, but hopefully I'm close to my emeritus.
Thanks again for my homes away from home.
Bob -

Bill, Congratulations on fifty years! I'm a Marriott Rewards member and stayed at many Marriott properties over the last 30 years on both business and vacation travel because of the high standards at those properties. I had a bad experience at the St. Kitts Marriott last year - where can I send my comments?

50 years and keeping up with with the times- great blog. I stayed at the Marriott near the Denver Airport prior to Christmas because of the blizzard. I called early on the 20th and was able to reserve a room and had comfortable accomodations while others slept on the floor or cots at the Denver International Airport. I met you when the Sea-Tac Marriott opened in the early 80s. One of the best parts of Marriott is their personnel. The Dining Manager - ******* ********* in Denver made everyone's difficult situation in December better. The staff was snowed in with us, and worked shift upon shift, but Sileste was constantly gracious and treated guests as if they were in her own home. Good luck with the next 50 years.

Bill, Congratulations on fifty years! It's quite a story. And it's quite fitting to see you blogging. Charles Darwin's words reflect the reasoning behind your family's accomplishments - It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. We are all pioneeers out here, and we're ahead of the curve. Have you noticed a surge in your 'mental profit'? One last thought, if you ever think you are an older pioneer out here, check out this great blog from the world's second oldest blogger - your just a kid in comparison. - Best wishes, Derrick

It's great to see Mr. Marriott joining the ranks of CEO bloggers. I like hearing stories of how people started small (although a 365 room hotel still seems kind of big to me) and created something special. Thanks for sharing the stories.

Having a blog like this is a great idea! Thanks for the stories about Marriott's beginnings--hope there are many more. I'm getting older and don't travel as much as I used to, but I'm still a gold member and would never stay anywhere except at a Marriott property if at all possible. I would like to comment on the two issues that have been brought up already: feathers and immigrants. As for feather pillows, it is THE reason my husband (who tries to save money on everything we do!) will stay at a Marriott rather than a less expensive hotel. He just can't sleep without a feather pillow, so that is the hook I can always use to convince him that we should stay at a Marriott while traveling. On the immigrant issue, I know that opinions are very strongly held on both sides, but I am delighted and, I admit, surprised that Mr. Marriott supports a more tolerant attitude toward immigrants. We are all equals in God's eyes and I am so pleased that a corporate leader such as Mr. Marriott is taking this position with regard to all of God's children. Thank you! And it makes me even more likely to choose a Marriott!

Congratulations on your blog. (This is my first comment to a blog!) We love Marriott hotels and have stayed in many over the 37 years we've been married. Recently, bought a Marriott time-share (wouldn't have bought from anyone else.) Still sorting that out though, it takes some planning and time to get the most out of it. Hopefully, a few years from now we will be as happy with this purchase as we are with Marriott hotels (My wife is an Elite member of Marriott Rewards). We opted for the Marriott rewards Premium VISA card despite its annual fee because of the points incentive. However, we are dropping it at the first opportunity because of the way they calculate the interest. We pay off our credit cards each month on-time, but still incur interest. I know Marriott does not control Chase's policy, but your name is attached! Thanks for a great chain of hotels and for making them non-smoking. Carl

I'm a Marriot Platnum customer that has quit statying at Marriot's because of you smoking policy .

Bravo! I am the CEO of an Internet marketing firm in Ann Arbor Michigan and I am really excited to see what you have done with this blog. It really makes you a thought leader in the hotel industry. Your voice is clear and personal. Plus I need to point out that this will help drive relevant traffic to your site by leaps and bounds!
Linda Girard

I read about your new blog in the AH&LA SmartBrief. Congratulations! I look forward to hearing more of your thoughts about the hospitality industry. Your blog could also be an excellent tool for hospitality students who love this type of technology for learning. Thank you for connecting to your customers in this way.

Congratulations on the new blog -- and welcome to the 21st century!
As a platinum member, I see a lot of Marriott hotels. Just today, I had a chance to see the new look for Residence Inn as it is being installed at the Eugene, OR Residence Inn. I'm a huge fan of Marriott Hotels and have stayed many a night in Residence Inns but I have to say that the new look leaves me very cold. The new chaise lounge that is being substituted for the existing couch, especially, is hard, uncomfortable and ungainly. When seeking a hotel room, and especially when seeking a hotel room for a multi-night stay, I look for function, comfort and style, in that order. Style is last by a long shot; if the room works and is comfortable, then I'm most likely going to be happy. But a room with an uncomfortable couch that isn't conducive to lying down and watching TV isn't going to be a room that I'll want to spend time in and I think many men, at least, are going to feel the same way.
I wish you much luck with the blog. I hope it serves you and your customers well.

It's great to hear from you on how the Marriott company started out 50 years ago. Very interesting. Thank you.

After my comment yesterday, I didn't think I'd respond again...but your message today reminded me that when I graduated from the Navy Recruit Training Command at Bainbridge, MD in the late summer of 1957 (Company 132), a bunch of us came down to Washington, DC for a looksee before we shipped out to our first duty stations. I cannot honestly say in which hotel we stayed, but the picture attached to your blog..seems very familiar. Regardless of where the five of us stayed on that trip...I guess I've been staying at Marriotts for just about as long as there have been Marriotts. Thanks for the memory jog and the recipes. est

Dear Bill, Way to go arriving in the new
cultural blogspeak with a progressive message! As you see and evaluate what is next in customer service, please consider what many five star spas are beginning to offer their guests, namely, an on-board stress reduction specialist or lifestyle coach that can bring down stress levels faster than baths, bars, and tv. My wife and I have been guest experts at some of these great hotels and destination spas, and can attest to the effectiveness of having a concierge referred service that allows brief, person to person support in a completely safe and professional context. Thanks for doing a great job - we love your hotels. Sincerely,

Congratulations on 50 years! That's quite an achievement in this day and age. Saw the interview with Neil Cavuto today and have a comment:
Please do not change the feather bedding! That's one of the reasons I choose Marriott Hotels. This past weekend I stayed at the Marriott Inner Harbor and was informed of feather bedding. Your staff is doing it's job in alerting the customer with potential allergy problems.
Secondly marketing your bedding is a great idea. Purchased some of my favorite items already.
Sign me ~~ a loyal customer :-)

Mr. Marriott,
Thank you for sharing some of your history. It always interested me how corporations began. Ah, the humble beginnings.
Hope all is well in your life.
Have a great weekend.
Rich Pieropan
Realtor (and retired Air Force guy)
Phoenix, AZ

Wow, things have come a long way. I'd like to see some of those room rates again!

Dear Mr Marriott:
I just saw you on Neal Cavutto's show on Fox News. With regard to feathers in the room. I enjoy the feather items.
However, my daughter and her family are highly allergic. I recall that in the 1970's when she was a little tot, we forgot to take foam pillows with us. The owner of the hotel had no rooms with foam pillows. He had his wife take the foam pillows off the bed in their personal quarters.
My suggestion is that hotels have a few allergy free feathers etc. Perhaps, even to the point of hard floors which can be wet mopped. An ionizer in the room would be nice.
I enjoy the blog, but please keep it short. You are continuing to be a true idea person.
Ruth Ann Compton

Thank you for how you do business. I am a government employee and will leave for another week on the road Sunday morning. It will be Marriott for two of three hotels. The first was not my choice. You feed me breakfast in London and I feel at home with you.
I also head the Springfield redevelopment CSPARK citizen group and have had the pleasure of seeing the third of your properties improving Springfield. Thanks for letting us talk with you

Hi Bill,
My husband and I share an anniversary with you. We are married 50 years as of today 1/19/07.
We have been members of the Marriott family for 15 years. We own a week at The Barony and a week at Grande Ocean both in Hilton Head.We have enjoyed our affiliation tremendously. Keep up the good work!, and Congratulations to all of us.
Sincerely, Matt & Lucretia Nobile