Our Culture Sustains Us Through Challenging Times

March 4, 2011

North Africa and the Middle East Winston Churchill, one of my heroes, once said, “If you’re going through hell, keep on going.”  It certainly describes the challenge our Marriott associates have faced over the past several weeks, as Egypt, Bahrain, Libya and other countries in the region have experienced a great deal of political turmoil and unrest.  Marriott has quite a large presence in that part of the world with 30 hotels across many brands.  The safety and well being of our guests and associates is always our number one concern.

In Libya, our brand new JW Marriott hotel in Tripoli opened for business just as the disturbances began.  As we reviewed the options, we realized we needed to evacuate the few guests who were in the hotel, as well as our 185 associates who had come to Tripoli in pursuit of new careers with Marriott.  The evacuation was coordinated by our regional crisis team and operations team, headed up by Mark Satterfield. It was a complicated operation with special bus convoys and a charter Airbus 310 airplane.  We all breathed a sigh of relief as they took off  from Tripoli airport and landed safely in Jordan, to return to their home countries and their families.

As I mentioned in my previous blog entry, Ed Fuller, our president and managing director of international lodging recently returned from Egypt where he and his team including Mark Satterfield, Alan Orlob, Kevin Montano, Brenda Durham and Simon Howe met with our associates and hotel owners to ensure that they were safe and well taken care of, as well as help them with the challenges they faced.

He also witnessed many courageous acts by our team in Cairo including a group of culinarians at the Cairo Marriott who protected their hotel by fending off protestors with their kitchen knives.  The team at the JW Marriott Cairo opened up their meeting space to serve as a staging ground for evacuees to Saudi Arabia.

The Marriott Spirit to Serve has really been put to the test by these recent events, but, as always, our culture sustains us through challenging times. Ed Fuller and Mark Satterfield are on their way to Bahrain this week from Saudi Arabia with the same mission: to recognize and thank our brave associates.

Right now, no one knows what the situation in the Middle East and North Africa will become, but we have had a long standing presence in the region and will continue to operate as we always have, welcoming guests wherever their journey takes them and with the safety and security of our people top of mind.

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

Our Culture Sustains Us Through Challenging Times

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Mr. Marriott, how does your team usually conduct business whenever there is political unrest? Is there a specific procedure you follow? The reason I am asking is I am a hospitality management student and I am currently studying a management tactics class.

I am so impressed by the "Our Stories" booklet I picked up the last time we stayed at Marriott (Rewards #*********)
Is it possible to obtain 18 copies to share with family and friends? Please respond.
Thank you. Happy spring.

Well done, and glad to hear people are safe.

We want to thank the Marriott team for doing a superb job , with evacuating the associates in tripoli.indeed a very good friend of mine was relieved when the Plane departed ,and impressed with the excellent organization
Let's however now focus on the next step , what opportunity the receive to continue to make a living to provide for there families

Mr. Marriot, As usual well done! Back at home I wish to recognize one of your stellar properties Boston Cambridge Marriot and its Employees!I am a Volunteer in Boston at a soup kitchen,Haley House.Your Property is undergoing a renovation and as such discarding objects /equipment in the process. This is typical and as such not unique. We are however very grateful for Marriot's generosity and community participation.The reason I am so impressed is that I witnessed the true culture of Marriot in how Employees engaged themselves in helping our Soup kitchen. They took the time to meet with us and educate us in how we could better serve our guests with true hospitality. At Haley House there is a emphasis on dignity and Your staff was engaging with technical and philosophical training on both.This while we thought was a gift of materials much needed,was also a gift with heart. The Marriot " Culture" goes along way in making this crazy world a more hospitable place to live. good luck around the world and Thank you and those who really get "IT" at Boston Cambridge Hotel. Dave

Mr. Marriott:

Churchill’s quotes to you and your team as you keep Marriott on the Move.

i) A man does what he must - in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures - and that is the basis of all human morality.

ii) Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.

iii) If you travel the earth, you will find it is largely divided into two classes of people-people who say "I wonder why such and such is not done" and people who say "Now who is going to prevent me from doing that thing?"

Thank you for your update on the developing situation in North Africa and the Middle East. I pray that things return to normal soon. In the meantime, I salute Ed Fuller, Mark Satterfield, and other Marriott "troubleshooters" as they try to bring some stability to an unstable region. May their efforts not be in vain.

Mr. Marriott,
I wanted to praise one of the associates who works at the TownePlace Suites in Farmington, New Mexico, named Trudie. My brother-in-law is staying there on an extended business trip and for his birthday, Trudie, had a birthday cake waiting for him at the end of his day. He truly appreciated this kindness. Thank you. Kathi

Dear Bill, you are an inspired and decisive leader. Getting a few guests and 185 associates out of Tripoli so quickly takes wisdom and good management from you and your team. The present abd the near future will require great leadership from excellent leaders like you. Keep up the good work. When "the going gets tough, you keep on going". Ray and Joanne

I am soooo happy for them now how about here in the united states.

Mr. Marriott,

Your culture is indeed a great one. I often stay at Marriott for business and for the first time this coming Spring will be bringing my family to the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort. You have one employee that I have been interacting with to help me set up a wonderful time for my wife and three young children...his name is Shiloh and he works at the Concierge desk. He embodies everything that is great about Marriott! He is responsive, professional, kinds, resourceful, has creative suggestions, and goes out of his way to ensure that my needs (in terms of planning the trip itinerary and events) are set-up perfectly.
Because of Shiloh's great work my wife and children and very much looking forward to the stay almost as much as I am! I know you probably receive letters about service improvement opportunities and thought I'd take a moment to send you kind praises of one very exceptional team member.

Your truly,

John Harrobin
Marriott #905519161

MARRIOTT is for its guest at all circunstances, not only on the business side.



Good Morning, That was a WOW blog. So very glad everyone is safe thanks to the few brave souls who risked their lives to save others.

I always worry about the safety of children in those countries. So many of those countries in the middle east and North Africa need more hospitals. At one of my functions I meet a very striking woman who had on white turban and red dress. She was from Syria. She was invited to the US to observe our medical procedures. I told her Oh I always wanted to see Damascus. She spoke English well. I was very impressed with her. Im so glad that she is trying to help children in her country. So many countries need hospitals for these good doctors. The US state department is trying to help. I am so glad for their effort and all the brave people who try to help others.

Just in such circumstances you´re able to see the people´s engagement with the brand and, more obviously, with the hotel´s facilities.

I truly believe that this workers -those who defeated against the riots- must be awarded by the property when the things recover normality.

Mr. Bill, I was keenly interested in your Blog of two days ago when you gave a big "atta boy" to Ed Fuller and helped to promote his book.

Now two days later an even greater impact statement about the International President and Managing Director, Mr. Ed Fuller. Ed is a wonderful person and it is so encouraging to see that managing 100's hotels is not his only talent; he is a true humanitarian and a leader of people par excellance.

Though there may be some humor if pictured in cartoon, the sight of a row of culinarians and chefs poised with their cutlery ready to defend the safety of their guests is something never written into a General Manager's job description. Ed Fuller has obviously developed his team to always put the guest first, just as he has put the employees first, as you have taught all.

There is a fantastic message in todays Blog. Hopefully this kind of inforamation could reach all the Marriott family of guests and friends.

Any plans for any hotel at all in Belfast? Just saying--might be a better choice than North Africa and the Middle East if you are considering safety these days. Last I checked one must choose Hilton in Belfast!!!

Mr. Marriott, thank you for updating us on the situation with your associates in the Middle East. I read that the hotels had closed and I'm so glad to know everyone is safe. As always, Marriott acts with integrity and care.

Dear Mr. Marriott,
Having had the pleasure of staying at the Marriott Palace in Cairo in December, I am not at all surprised at the courageous actions of the associates both in the restaurants and the hotel itself. Everyone was so helpful and welcoming and I look forward to going back. They embodied the Spirit to Serve motto.

I applaud you for recognizing that putting culture first usually results in profit and success. Many businesses try to do things the other way around and that rarely succeeds.