Helping Each Other Through the Storm

March 25, 2020
Fairfield Gaylord
Associates at Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott in Gaylord, Michigan, packed free lunches for the local community.

As I turn 88 years old today, my thoughts have dwelled, of course, on the global pandemic that has severely impacted our world and our company, resulting in quarantines and illness for some of our associates and their families and for others: furloughs, reduced work weeks and hotel closings around the world.

Even for an octogenarian, this is an unprecedented time.

My parents, J.W. and Alice Marriott,  founded the company 92 years ago against tough odds. We weathered the Great Depression, multiple wars, natural disasters, terrorist acts and economic downturns. Through it all, Marriott always has stood tall, relying on the humanity in all of us to look out for each other, above all else. That is the Marriott way. We put people first. Our TakeCare culture depends on it.

Amidst all the sobering headlines, I wanted to share a few uplifting stories of Marriott associates taking care of each other, their guests and their communities. These are simple gestures. Not a single one will change the world. But collectively, they demonstrate the extraordinary power we have when we join together to help one another. These stories warm my heart and assure me that we can and will defeat this pandemic and we will thrive once again.


Allen Chen, banquet supervisor at Renaissance Suzhou Hotel, Suzhou China

When a surgical mask factory in Suzhou, China put out a call for workers to increase production, 30 volunteers from five Marriott brand hotels were quick to sign up to help, including Allen Chen, who lives two hours from the factory.

“My morning job was to pick out masks and pack them in boxes,” Allen said. “In the afternoon, I was responsible for operating the machine, embossing the mask and attaching the earpiece. It wasn't complicated, but the intensity and pace of the work compared to my daily job in the hotel was a stretch. The machine makes two imprints per second and we must concentrate since a careless production may not meet quality standards.”

With the help of the Marriott volunteers and others, the factory was able to produce an astounding 100,000 masks per day, no small task. Allen remains humble about it. In the face of the pandemic, he said, everyone must contribute if they can. “I’m just a drop in the flood,” he said. “I’m glad that I could join as a volunteer.”

Sunny Liu Xiaolin, guest service manager at Le Meridien Shenyang, Heping China

“During the outbreak, we kept the hotel open every day. In addition to the basic services, we thought it was important to make every guest feel extra comfortable and safe. When we learned one guest needed to be quarantined for 14 days, we added him to a messaging mobile app to help him easily communicate with us. We helped him order meals from the restaurant every day, bought him daily necessities and even took his temperature.

“In truth, these are little things in our daily work, but during the epidemic period, the kindness and warmth will be deeply retained in our hearts. Just like every bud growing in early spring, it will eventually grow into a towering tree in the hearts of guests, leaving enduring memories,” she said.

Fairfield Gaylord-2Eileen Tussey, general manager Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott, Gaylord, MI.

When the local schools in her town closed abruptly, Eileen and her team began preparing free lunches for local children, which parents could drive up to the hotel and pick up without getting out of their cars. “We offered sandwiches, chips and fruit, at first,” she said. Then the community began dropping off donations in droves. “Restaurants started giving me food. People brought loaves of bread, canned goods, cereal and premade meals. So, we started delivering food to elderly people who were in their homes and couldn’t shop.”

The hotel donated 300 meals in four days before a government order forced residents to stay home. Now the hotel is donating food to doctors at the local hospital. A number of contract physicians from other cities are also staying at the hotel. “We are hoping to restart the meals soon,” she said. “It’s been great for the community.”

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

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