“We love doing deals, but the deals need to make sense.”
-CEO: Arne M. Sorenson
About the CEO
Marriot International’s CEO 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. So far, the hospitality chain has well accepted his approach and leadership.
From tie-ups with technology-first hospitality companies like Airbnb trying out new business models like whole homestays to enabling digital transformations 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. The stalwart picked him 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. Additionally, the company is spending $100 million a year on building its loyalty and reservation systems from scratch. It envisions a future where personalized experience will be delivered to each customer.
Business Model Innovation
The company is transforming your room to reflect the fact that ‘we know you’. This level of personalization additionally calls for Marriott to fundamentally absorb digital customer data and analyze 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 which the customers use 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 digital transformations like voice recognition and computer vision to make customer journeys personalized and frictionless in addition to maintaining the human connection 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 also have a clear growth map. Hence, digital is a critical enabler for them.