One of the leading lodging companies in the world, Marriott International has over 6000 properties in more than 120 countries. With around 30 hotel and lodging brands, the company headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland near Washington, D.C, continues to grow exponentially. Founders John Willard Marriott and Alice Sheets Marriott laid the foundation of this hospitality business that was further consolidated by their son Bill Marriott.
A&W Root Beer and Hot Shoppes–1927
Although it is a huge name in the hotel and lodging industry today, the business had humble origins. On a trip to Washington as a young man, John Willard realised that the hot weather in the capital made it an apt place for opening an A&W Root Beer stand. The summer weather made people look for options to quench their thirst and root beer was a perfect way to cool off. Along with his newly-wed wife Alice Marriott and business partner Hugh Colton, John started his first A&W root beer franchise in Washington in 1927. They decided to enhance their menu with hot food options and christened their enterprise Hot Shoppes.
This sense of innovation, entrepreneurship and service continued to reap rich dividends. After opening two more Hot Shoppes including a drive-in, John Willard took the next step. They ventured into an on-flight catering service in 1937 providing passengers at Hoover Airport with packaged lunch.
Moving Forward into the Hospitality Industry–1959
While John and Alice Marriott laid the foundation for a great business, their son Bill took it to greater heights by venturing into the hotel and lodging industry. It was a historic decision and one that was the start of bigger things to come. After opening the Twin Bridges Marriott, the world’s first motor hotel in Arlington, Virginia in 1957 under the management of Bill Marriott, the company went on to open another hotel in the same city–the Key Bridge Marriott in 1959.
International Expansion and More–1969
Soon, the Marriott family decided to foray into overseas business and the first international hotel was established in Acapulco, Mexico in 1969. In 1972, they also expanded into the cruise industry in collaboration with Sun Line. Around this time, J.W. Marriott, Jr. was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Marriott. It was also the time when business travel was on the rise and with the intention to tap into the business lodging industry, Marriott established its first Courtyard hotel in 1983. With this, business travellers could stay in style and comfort with a host of business facilities at the Courtyard.
Multiple Brands and Acquisitions–1987
A year before John Willard Marriott passed away in 1985, the JW Marriott hotel was established in Washington, D.C in honour of the pioneer who founded the Marriott. After J.W. Marriott, Jr assumed the role of chairman of the board, he propelled the company further with his visionary ideas. Marriott became the first lodging company to diversify into multiple brands in order to consolidate and expand the business. The founding of the first Fairfield Inn and Marriott Suites hotels was a step in this direction. By the late 1980s, the company had over 500 hotels worldwide. Obtaining 49% interest in The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company in the mid-1990s was another major leap for the company. This decision along with the acquisition of the Renaissance Hotel Group boosted the presence of the company on international shores. It was well on its way to becoming one of the leading names in the hospitality business. The company also continued to establish new brands such as the Bulgari Hotels & Resorts which opened its first hotel in Milan, Italy in 2004.
Innovation, Technology and Great Service–2012 onwards
While Marriott is known for its exceptional service, it has also constantly innovated and incorporated changes to provide a better experience to its clientele. After Arne Sorensen became President and CEO of Marriott International in 2012, the company’s portfolio has increased further. In 2013, Marriott made an entry into the economy tier with the three-star Moxy Hotels in Europe. The company also recognized the importance of technology and constantly delivered in this area to provide a smooth experience for guests. It continues to carve new paths and its acquisitions including that of the Starwood Hotels & Resorts in 2016 has made it the largest hotel company in the world. With a growing presence in several countries and offering more than 1.2 million rooms across various properties, Marriott is one of the top names in the hotel industry.
All throughout the journey from 1927, the company has always focussed on its core values – put people first, pursue excellence, embrace change, act with integrity, and serve our world. It is the implementation of these very values by John Willard Marriott, Alice Sheets Marriott, Bill Marriott and the employees of the company that has seen Marriott emerging as the world leader in the hospitality business.