Bill Marriott on blogging, healthcare, and his love for the hotel business
Bill Marriott is all smiles at dinner. Mark Rebilas / Flickr
Marriott is one of many conservative leaders in the hospitality that contributed heavily to the Romney camp in the 2012 election, but he’s the only one to share a name with the presidential candidate, Willard Mitt Romney.
J.W. “Bill” Marriot, Jr. went on a book tour last week promoting his new book, Without Reservations, which chronicles the evolution of his family’s business from a root beer shop to one of the largest hotel groups in the world. Marriott refers to his family’s history as a “great American story.”
Marriott still serves as the Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board of Marriott International, but handed the role of CEO over to Arne Sorenson last winter. Below are some of Marriott’s opinions on business, the hotel industry, and Mitt Romney; quoted from his discussions in the following two interviews with the Wall Street Journal and Fox and Friends.
How staying on top in the hotel business: “I’ve always practiced the idea: take good care of your employees and they’ll good care of the customers. So customer satisfaction is a very very big thing for us. We’re not a manufacturing company; we’re in service and our people make the difference.”
On why he loves the hospitality industry: “I think this is the most fun business in the world because it’s so dynamic and so interesting and so varied. When you think about all the things that go on in a hotel: food and beverage, rooms, conventions. It’s just a very very exciting business for me and I’ve just been blessed to be in such a great business.”
On business advice: “The most important thing, I found, is to surround yourself with people smarter than you are…and listen to what they have to say and include them in the decision, but then it’s time to decide. I always say, “Decide to decide,” because you can’t keep kicking the can down the road saying ‘this more analysis, that more analysis, we need to do this. You need to make decisions.”
On blogging: “I started blogging about five or six years ago and people loved the personal stories. I told people about the business…but it’s more personal, it’s more observation, it’s more my thoughts on the economy, growth, people. It’s been a lot of fun. I get a lot responses and I read a lot of them.”
On the relationship between business and the economy: “I think [Obama] needs to recognize the importance of business to America. The growth in this economy can only come from business. It can’t come from taxes and it can’t come from government. It has to come from business investing, growing, innovating. That’s the way this country is grown. It’s what made America great. It’s free enterprise and as soon as everyone wakes up to the importance of free enterprise, we’re going to be on a track out of this malaise were sitting in.”
On healthcare for Marriott employees: “We don’t know the final numbers are going to be on Obamacare, but we know it’s going to be meaningful for us in terms of covering more people. Right now you have to work 30 hours a week to get healthcare coverage with Marriott, and we cover everyone over 30 hours a week. When [Obamacare] goes into effect, we have to cover 100 percent of our people whether they’re working 15 or 20 hours a week or whatever they work, and we know there are going to be meaningful cost increases.”
On sharing a name with Mitt Romney: “My dad and mother went to school in Utah with Mitt’s father. Mitt was the last of the Romney children and George named Mitt for my dad. And my dad named me for himself, so we share the same name.”