Rooms Hotels

Marriott’s CEO on the Difficulty of Rejuvenating Old Brands

@denschaal

Jun 04, 2014 3:00 pm

Skift Take

The “local” trend in the hospitality industry only goes so far and Marriott is worried about freshening up some of its older brands such as Marriott and Courtyard. CEO Sorenson concedes that not every property can be unique.

— Dennis Schaal

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 / Marriott International

Arne Sorenson, the CEO of Marriott International, loves the chain's collection of luxury and lifestyle brands, but concedes that its older brands have to get a refresh and not every property can be unique. / Marriott International


Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson touts his chain as the largest collection of luxury and lifestyle hotel brands in the world, but here’s a little secret: He concedes that not every property can reflect local culture, and he worries about rejuvenating older brands such as its flagship Marriott, and Courtyard brands.

Sorenson pointed out there are some 900 Courtyard by Marriott properties around the world. “Not every brand will ever get to the point where each hotel is unique,” Sorenson said during a presentation at the Goldman Sachs Lodging, Gaming, Restaurant and Leisure Conference June 3.

Courtyard by Marriott was launched in the mid-1980s, and Marriott’s been trying to freshen it up with a new bistro in the lobbies and redesigned guest rooms.

“Albeit that bistro looks pretty similar hotel to hotel,” Sorenson said. “But it is a newer take on an older box and we think it is working well. We have to do the same with the other brands that we’ve had the longest.”

Sorenson argued that Marriott brands are due for redesigned lobbies with food and beverage, adding that efforts are under way to revamp its lobbies, guest rooms, fitness areas, and technology.

The idea is “to bring back food and beverage” and to transform the Marriott brands’  lobbies into “a place where people want to hang,” Sorenson said.

While older travelers tend to want to get through the front desk registration process as quickly as possible in order to relax in their rooms, younger travelers may want to skip the front desk and socialize, Sorenson said.

“Younger travelers maybe don’t even want to go to the front desk, drop their stuff off in their guest rooms and then do down to the lobby, even if traveling alone,” Sorenson said.

Younger guests often want to sit in the lobby, engaging with people or using their devices, Sorenson said.

“We need to make sure those lobbies are designed in a way that makes that happen,” Sorenson said, referring to the lobbies at Marriott brands.

Much of the buzz these days in the hospitality industry is about new lifestyle and luxury brands, and going local with unique properties that reflect their environs.

In that regard, Sorenson cited Marriott International’s development over the years of the Autograph Collection, the relaunch of Edition Hotels, the pending launch of Spain’s AC Hotels in the U.S., and even the economy Moxy by Marriott, as well as The Ritz-Carlton.

He conceded that Marriott may have been a bit late to the lifestyle trend, but now is the largest owner/manager/franchisor in the sector.

But, Marriott is making a tremendous amount of money from its more conservative brands, which it wants to liven up without going overboard.

Of the luxury and lifestyle sector, Sorenson said: “A lot of that is bleeding over into the brands we’ve had the longest.”

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