I spent some time in March at our Camelback Inn in Scottsdale, Arizona. It was a wonderful stay at the historic hotel, which opened in the early 1930’s making it the oldest J.W. Marriott hotel in our system. We bought it in 1967 and our family has been going there every year since to celebrate my birthday. This year we had a lot of children and grandchildren there at a cookout. We ate hamburgers, hotdogs, and beans. We had a magician, a balloon blower, and dancing. This hotel consistently ranks at the top of our JW brand for customer service and employee satisfaction. Jim Rose is our General Manager and is celebrating 47 years with Marriott.
During my stay, I witnessed firsthand why this hotel has been so successful. As Jim and I toured the hotel he knew at least 300 of his 400 associates by name without looking at their nametags. He also introduced me to many who had been promoted from hourly positions to management. We visited with our staff who cared for the grounds and the beautiful flowers. We visited the kitchen, the laundry, the front desk and the telephone operators. We checked out housekeeping and the bell staff. Jim also introduced me to our outstanding sales staff. I was impressed, but not surprised by the results of Jim’s leadership.
A few days earlier, Donna and I had dinner with seven Marriott old timers and their wives. Two had retired; the other five represented our current leadership in the Phoenix and Palm Springs area. The average length of service for our group was 36 years. All had started as hourly workers or very junior level managers.
Jack Welch, former CEO of GE was recently interviewed by the WSJ in an article entitled, “Jack Welch talks business.” The first question was, “What do traditional MBA programs miss about management?” Welch replied, “If traditional MBAs are missing anything, they miss a lot of the human equation about building teams, about being generous managers who love to see their people succeed, and who love to get their people raises and promotions.”
Way to go, Jack. I can say that our seven long-term leaders have embraced our culture for many years and do many of the things that Jack Welch suggested. They take good care of their associates, who take good care of our customers, so they will come back. My top priority and the priority of our senior team is to make sure this culture continues to live on.
I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.