The man credited with turning his father's soda stand into a global hotel business is stepping down after 39 years running Marriott International. The change at the top of the company (announced this week) comes during rapid expansion in China and other emerging economies.
A global hotel empire, built on a simple recipe for success... “Take good care of your employee and they’ll take good care of the customer. And that applies around the world. I don’t care what country you’re in, everybody wants to be treated with warmth, with precision, good food, hot food hot, cold food cold," Marriott explained. "They want to be able to have a good experience.”
Coworkers and competitors credit the now 79-year-old Bill Marriott with using that mantra - and his personal touch - to help turn what began as a small soda stand, and restaurant chain, into Marriott International with 3,600 hotels spanning more than 70 countries, and growing.
Now, it's up to incoming Chief Executive Aren Sorenson - who takes over in March - to keep the global expansion going. "We stand today, we think, at the dawn of a new golden age of travel. And that golden age of travel is driven by explosive growth in the developing world. China and India and Brazil are well known to everybody. But sub-Saharan African is exploding in many markets in a positive way,” he said.
Both Sorenson and Marriott, who will remain on the company's board of directors, say there are reasons to be concerned, especially with Europe's ongoing debt crisis and continued fallout from the Arab Spring. But they stress there is no shortage of need or opportunity.
“The business is good in sub-Saharan Africa. We’re going into several countries down there and we just feel there’s a great opportunity there. They’ve got a lot of minerals. They’ve got a lot of oil. They’ve got a lot of things that are going on that the world is going to continue to buy and develop and grow in sub-Saharan Africa and we want to be part of that growth,” Marriott stated.
Marriott International reported sales of $12 billion in 2010, with strong growth in China and Brazil.