Marriott International & Starwood Hotels – Does experience matter?

Hello everyone,

I have decided to post my first post to this blog. The inspiration is kind of sudden because someday I spotted a ranking of TOP 10 Hotel Companies in The World. And on top of that stood Marriott International / Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, being the first to exceed the total room capacity above 1 Million, which is quite impressive. [1]

And how is that? As you may probably have thought, it was not achieved by the usual growth, but by the merge of Marriott International and Starwood Hotels & Resorts back in 2015, with the full acquisition in the second half of 2016. This topic has piqued my interest, because one may wonder… How is it possible to maintain something so large? Are they able to provide a personalized experience to every guest, to individualize everyone’s customer journey before, during and after stay?

To figure it out, I have found several materials, and within them, one interesting interview along with the following paragraph:

“We attribute a lot of our success to actually having a higher purpose, and our higher purpose as a company is to transcend travel to transform lives by putting people first. That means the lives of our associates, the lives of our guests, and lives of the people in the communities in which we operate. People and community will always be at the heart of what we do.” 

Matthew Von Ertfelda, Senior Vice President of Marriott International [2]

Sounds interesting, does not it? We may ask ourselves “How?” Even though Marriott consists of more than 5,500 hotels all around the world, it is still the policy and especially people that count. If they have the right people at right positions, I would most probably believe such words of his. When looking at the company and their philosophy, it is as following:

“Our core values make us who we are. As we change and grow, the beliefs that are most important to us stay the same—putting people first, pursuing excellence, embracing change, acting with integrity and serving our world.” 
Marriott Core Values [3]

Considering these words, everything seems that they are genuinely focused on the quality of their services and focusing a lot on their values they have pride in.

“Throughout our nearly 90-year history we have never stopped searching for innovative ways to serve our guests. With the addition of Starwood’s strong brands, great properties, and talented people, we have dramatically expanded our ability to provide the best experiences to our customers.”
J.W. Marriott, Jr., Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board of Marriott International [4]

Being a large chain of hotels has a lot of advantages, being the biggest one, has even more advantages, although it comes along with the big responsibilities. When you are the biggest one, you are the leader of the industry from which only the best is accepted.

And they are doing fine so far. According to ACSI (American Customer Satisfaction Index), the rating of Starwood has increased by 2.6% compared to 2015 [5], which is very fair performance. Also, Marriott seems to be doing great job at maintaining the guest’s satisfaction. Even though they did not rise the values, it has not dropped either. The only better competitor within the industry is Hilton. See it for yourself:

ACSI 2016 Hotel Benchmark

To sum it up, everything comes down to how the company has established the internal procedures, policies and what people are they hiring to certain positions, at least that is how I see it. Of course, in practice it is a challenging work, but within the segment Marriott International operates, brand and image means everything. After all, a hotel without its guests is nothing more than a bankrupt company. Everything else depends on employees from the highest executive officers down to the entry level positions, so if they treat their employees with respect, it will be reflected in their attitude towards guests and of course when providing feedback to managers.

That is it for today! Thank you for your attention!

Filip Hoang, Dania Academy of Higher Education


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