“We love doing deals, but the deals need to make sense.”
-CEO: Arne M. Sorenson
Business Model Innovation
Arne Sorenson is not your average Fortune 500 CEO. He is low key, extremely soft-spoken but let it not be mistaken as docile. Being the first non-family CEO of the 92-year-old company meant big shoes to fill and so far, his approach and leadership is well accepted both in the hospitality chain per se and the larger hotel ecosystem.
From tie-ups with technology-first hospitality companies like Airbnb trying out new business models like whole homestays, to enabling digital technologies with an approach to make customer experience frictionless and personalized are all actions he must be credited for.
Arne’s background as a lawyer to currently managing a large hospitality conglomerate is both amazing and disruptive. He worked with Bill Marriott for 22 years as a legal advisor to the company before being picked by the stalwart himself to lead the chain in the future.
His biggest bet so far has been the mammoth $13 billion acquisition of Starwood Hotels with an aim to acquire its loyalty systems. The company is spending $100 million a year on building its loyalty and reservation systems from scratch and envisions a future where each customer is delivered a personalized experience.
The company is operating on a vision that your room should reflect the fact that ‘we know you’. This level of personalization is calling for Marriott to fundamentally absorb customer data and analyse it in myriad ways. It is leveraging partnerships and technologies through companies like Salesforce to equip its sales leaders with a better understanding of its customers to make an informed pitch.
The company believes that there will be some level of automation but not enough to completely eliminate the human touch. It intends to balance the two and utilize its human capital to deliver a better customer experience. The firm is also trying to disrupt the landline, an age-old communication tool used by customers to interact with hotel associates, and leverage modern communication tools to make customer experience simpler, faster and more seamless.
Marriott’s game is to use technology in every aspect of its business. From managing and training employees to giving their people access to tools enabling them through better training, are some of the ways Marriott is looking to prioritize technology.
In the future, Marriott intends to use technologies like voice recognition and computer vision to make customer journeys personalized and frictionless whilst maintaining the human connect and the cultural ethos of Marriott. With 750,000 people around the world enabling Marriott to achieve its vision, it is critical for the company to make them feel involved and have a clear growth map. Hence, digital is a critical enabler for them.