Because I travel a fair amount, and because I’m a little obsessive about loyalty programs, I belong to the Marriott, Starwood and Hyatt hotel “points” programs. When given a choice, I usually opt for Marriott. The properties are a little bland, but the people tend to be friendlier.
I learned why last week when I spent a little time with J. Williard “Bill” Marriott II, the company’s CEO and the son of its founders. Marriott was holding a companywide volunteer day, and Bill went off to work at the D.C. Central Kitchen, a nonprofit in downtown Washington. He came across as a plainspoken guy who’s genuinely comfortable with people and proud of the employees at Marriott.
Today’s CNNMoney.com column looks at Marriott’s corporate culture. Here’s how it begins:
In 1927, J. Willard Marriott and new bride, Alice, opened a nine-stool root beer stand in Washington, D.C. It grew into a restaurant chain called Hot Shoppes and much later became a hotel company. Their son Bill Marriott worked in the kitchen as a young man.
Last week, to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the $11.5-billion-year Marriott Corp. Bill Marriott returned to the kitchen – this time as a volunteer, to prepare food for Washington’s poor people at a nonprofit called the DC Central Kitchen. He was joined by about 25 Marriott employees.
It was a fitting way to mark Marriott’s anniversary, not just because it echoed the company’s humble beginnings, but because it reflects a corporate culture built on an ethic of service.