“If the employees are well taken care of, they’ll take care of the customer and the customer will come back,” says Bill Marriott, the CEO of Marriott International. “That’s basically the core value of the company.”
Some things never change at Marriott. The company’s core values were shaped by its founder J.W. Marriott, Bill Marriott’s father, who opened a root-beer stand in Washington back in 1927 that grew into the hotel giant (3,000 branded hotels, $12.9 billion in revenues last year).
But the company has to constantly adapt—to the economic slump, to new technologies, to the changing tastes of travelers. Before long, Marriott could well get the first non-family CEO in its history, a soft-spoken Midwesterner named Arne Sorenson. (He’s next to Bill Marriott, below.)
My profile of the company, called Marriott Gets A Wake-Up Call, appears in the current issue of FORTUNE, part of a series of stories I’m doing for the magazine on FORTUNE 500 companies. It was a pleasure. For starters, I didn’t have to get on a plane; the company’s headquarters are about two miles from my house in Bethesda, Md. More important, I’ve long admired the company’s worker-friendly culture, its ethic of service and its commitment to voluntarism. Marriott is also leading the travel industry when it comes to envirommental issues.
Here’s how the story begins:
Next time you order breakfast at a Marriott, you may notice something new about the bacon. Instead of being served in identical six-inch strips, it now comes in an assortment of sizes. That’s because senior executives of Marriott, after sampling four or five varieties of bacon in a blind taste test, found that an irregular cut, which costs less, tastes just as good as the rectangular slices traditionally served in the company’s hotels.
Although J.W. “Bill” Marriott Jr., the company’s longtime chairman and chief executive, had his doubts, he approved the new specifications when he learned that they would save about $2 million a year. “Times are changing,” says the 77-year-old CEO.
You can read the rest here.
Marriott also invited me to an elegant lunch in its test kitchen, where it tries out new recipes for the company’s hotels and restaurants. (Its brands including Ritz Carlton, Champion’s Sports Bars and Renaissance.) A story about the lunch has just been posted to fortune.com. It begins like this:
When it comes to food, everyone’s a critic — even a gentleman like J.W. “Bill” Marriott, the longtime chairman and CEO of Marriott International, the $12.9-billion-a-year hotel giant.
On a trip to Florida, Bill Marriott ordered lobster risotto at one of the company’s upscale hotels. Which one, he’d rather not say.
But he will say that the risotto came with an unwelcome brownish hue. “It wasn’t good,” he said. “Matter of fact, it was bad.”
You can read the rest here.