Partnering with the U.S. Government: Secretary Napolitano Visits Marriott

July 13, 2010
Secretary Napolitano in Marriott Test Kitchen We recently had the privilege of hosting U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, at our headquarters to talk about issues our industry and her agency have in common.  Our associates, including the chefs in our Marriott test kitchen, were thrilled to meet the Secretary.

First, we talked about immigration reform.  She is the former Governor of Arizona, so she is acutely aware of the challenges our country faces because of a difficult immigration system.  For years, I’ve advocated the need to address security at our borders and, also, to provide opportunities for hard-working immigrants.  And, yet, our leaders on Capitol Hill have been reluctant to deal with this difficult issue.  That’s why I joined mayors and other business leaders in the Partnership for a New American Economy to work together to spur action on immigration reform.

We also talked to the Secretary about customer service—in the context of the international visitors who come to America and the “welcome” experience they encounter at our ports of entry.  I was in China recently, and at their immigration checkpoint, travelers are able to provide instant feedback about their arrival experience with the officer checking their visa and passport.  There are no language barriers, just a small device that offers a series of faces from smiley to very mad.  You push the button that best describes your customer experience. It’s fast and it’s easy, and I was told by our ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, that it really is working to improve the traveler experience and the performance of the customs officers.  Our industry has pledged to work with the Department of Homeland Security to share some of our customer service expertise.  They’ve got a tough job, and keeping the country safe is certainly the top priority, but we think security and customer service can go hand in hand.

Finally, we discussed how we can attract more international visitors from the fast developing nations of China, India and Brazil. We know that when they come to America, they fall in love with our country.   We need to improve the process for obtaining visitor visas and Secretary Napolitano plays an important role in working with the State Department to make that happen.  People don’t realize that when an international visitor comes to the United States, the money they spend to travel, shop, eat and stay in hotels is all considered an export.  Encouraging more international visitors will help our economy, create jobs and support President Obama’s goal of doubling our U.S. exports.  DHS and the State Department both have a role to play in making the process more welcoming.

After an exciting and productive conversation with Secretary Napolitano, it became even clearer to me how important it is for businesses to be partners with our government.  They don’t run business and we don’t run government, so we have a lot to learn from each other.  Partnership is the way to really share ideas, best practices and to get things right…and Secretary Napolitano is a fantastic partner for us!

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

Partnering with the US Government Secretary Napolitano Visits Marriott

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Thank you for sharing your involvement and participation in the issues that are close to the general public as well Mr. Marriott. As you engage in these issues in your position as Chairman and CEO of Marriott International, listen to the comments your guests have to make on the same issues as well. Not only will you learn more about your customers, you will also be helping them in another way through your representation. Thank you and good luck

we stayed at Courtyard marriot hotel at oyster point in san francisco on aug 6,7,8. we received a promo visa card voucher worth $20(we got 4)but i cannnot found the right website.

We stayed at a Courtyard Marriott in California on August 6-8 and also received a Visa card voucher that can't be activated. The same website,, doesn't appear online. Can someone at Marriott help us?

recently retired DHS and MS. Napolitan is the best

We received a VISA gift card during our stay on 8-7-10. The login site cannot be found. HELP


I'm almost certain that Mr Marriott isn't the one actually writing the blog. Most likely delegated the task to a staff assistant or bloggie ... so It doesn't strike me as too odd that the blog strayed from hotel management into Immigration reform. But - here's a news flash. You are a company. Don't tell me your political view. If mine disagrees with yours - how likely am I to enjoy my next stay at one of your properties ? Sell rooms - not your opinions from ... please! I like your hotel chain - and thank you.

I just had to share this with everybody! I was entering the country back after visiting native Russia back in 2005. There were 2 lines at passport controls: 1 for American citizens and 1 for non-citizens. After being on the plane for 9 hours with my 1 year old baby we were missing a connecting flight to Phili. I chose the shorter line (American citizens) because my son was born in this country and is a citizen. When it was our turn, the officer told me that this line is for American citizens only and I have no right to be in this one. I tried to explain to him that my son is an American citizen and we are missing our flight after being on the road for the whole day. This is what I was told: “You have to step to the other line. There are lots of people behind you, who are actually American citizens and who are waiting to be assisted”.
I switched lines. We missed our flight and had to wait for another one for 4 more hours until the next one. 2 people who were in the “American citizen” line right behind me approached me to apologize for the rudeness of the officer. I burst out into tears, that’s how humiliating it was. How can my son be proud to be American citizen?

my wife and i have had a very
tuff year with unexpected deaths in both our families . we stayed 7-28 7-29 at fairfield in ABILENE TX. your front desk representative was so very polite, friendly and professional that it turned our day around which was needed badly. she was and is an asset to your hotel. She had mentioned that she was from seagraves tx but we did not get her name. we feel that people like her deserve recognition and any corp would be wise to cultivate a career move upward. THANK you and her for helping us end our day on a better note than when it began.

great information sharing and thanks for that. lovely blog.

I completely agree with you about the customer service at the ports. During each international trip, I was always puzzled by the huge contrast between government employee and Marriott employee / flight attendants.

Thank you so much for caring about the image of this country and for communicating it with high level government officials!

Glad to see that some responsible voices are speaking up for immigration reform. We have to fix this intolerable situation, but do it with fairness and justice. Employers need workers, workers need jobs, and everyone needs borders and laws we can respect and abide by.

i like it your work and your interest in permoting these such type of good places

Have you looked at your timeshare comments???? There are a lot of angry customers, us included. Stop touting all the good you do and take care of your timeshare customers. We have not been able to book a week at our home resort in Myrtle Beach for 5 years straight. We always end up going through interval and paying extra fees. It is appalling that you can run this "racket" legally. Are you aware, Mr Marriott, that 80% of your customer base DOES NOT get to book the week they want even though they paid for the PLATINUM PACKAGES? No one is told during the buying process that they MUST Call one year in advance, to the day at 9am only for a CHANCE to get the week they want. And even then, you are likely NOT to get it. It happens to us all the time. What a huge frustration and disappoinment. I doubt you care that the little guys like us work very hard and would like to enjoy our vacations at a resort we PAID for without so much trouble. I'd like to see you address this....please, have a little decency.
Disgusted in NY

While it is important to keep the lines of communication open between business and government, this current administration has shown NO interest or respect for the American citizens or business.
When the President starts suing states, and refuses to enforce Federal law, there is not much hope for your business or citizens. Janet Napolitano has been part of the problem and has offered NO viable solutions. Good luck with immigration reform!!

Your insights into the synergy between business and government are interesting and commendable. This comment, however, has to deal with the new Marriott Vacation Club Destinations Exchange Program. I have one question that no one I've spoken to at Marriott seems to be able to answer. I've enrolled in the new program but have a concern. Why are the points value I've been given for my weeks at the resorts I own at lower than being able to spend a week there during my platinum etc weeks? I.E., I own platinum at Grande Vista and only a couple of dates are now available to me during the year if I use points unless I use more than what you assigned me. According to chart, the maximum amount needed for a two bedroom at Grande Vista is 3500 for Christmas week. Why was I only given 2,775 points. This is my home resort. I should be able to have enough points to stay there during any week of what was and still is the platinum seasons. Also, I own Bronze at Myrtle Beach for which you assigned me 900 points in the program. A week in the time period I used to be able to stay there is now 950 points. Really not well thought out in my opinion. One well meaning employee suggested I purchase another 1,000 points. No thank you. Although I love the Marriott brand, I do not choose to purchase anymore. So, I repeat, why are my weeks not worth at least the amount of points now required for weeks in the time periods I purchased?

I agree with the advantage of having international visitors to the U.S. And they do love this country, so much many overstay their visas and are not located to leave for their home country.
We need a way to keep track of them once they arrive and enforce the time limits on their stays.

Terrorists manage this system very well.
The Feds need to do their job. They won't let the states protect themselves, and they are not capable of nor does the Fed seem to care about protecting this country w/i our borders.

encouraging vistors to visit America is indeed a good idea. One comment, every time I stay at the passport control to show the officer my passport, I tell myself - this is the last time I enter America. I have not come across of one nice Officer at the airports while entering the USA. Everytime I'm bombarded with tons of questions -why are you coming to USA why why and ...many more unfriendly questions. I'm a fan of New York, San Francisco and many interesting places you have but to enter the USA is not without a blow in your face - starting with the passport control. I have an European passport and I don't want to know how Asian people are treated at the passport control!?

Truly superb. Incredibly well written, intellectually passionate but also apolitical. Commendations.

Excellent point, as a tourist, I feel welcome when I visit other countries around the globe. Unfortunately, this is not the case when I visit the USA. For example: If I don’t speak English correctly, I feel ‘unwelcome’. It’s like they are yelling at me: “Learn my language correctly if you want to come to visit this country”; however, when I visit Italy, France or Asia – they understand that’s not my native tongue and they appreciate my efforts of trying speaking their language.
I am wondering how many tourists the USA looses every year because of the unfriendly immigration/visitor policies that are in place.

Thank you Mr. Marriott


Ivan Soto
Native Country: Guatemala