Following the information of his demise after an almost two yr battle with pancreatic most cancers, a number of present and former Marriott Worldwide workers shared how CEO Arne Sorenson led together with his coronary heart.
“I contemplate Arne’s legacy to Marriott and the hospitality business as immeasurable. Maybe considered one of Arne’s best legacies is his principled and gracious management, an ‘esprit de corps,’ that I really feel has been ingrained by Marriott’s world associates in the present day and positively for generations to return, stated Gregory Miller, a former longtime Marriott worker and now a lodging analyst at Truist.
Miller added that he was “gutted” when he heard the information.
Sorenson, who turned Marriott into the world’s largest resort chain after buying Starwood Motels & Resorts in a $13 billion deal in 2016, died on the age of 62, the corporate introduced Tuesday.
As a journalist overlaying the corporate for a number of years, Sorenson’s heat was evident.
Sorenson knew everybody’s identify at a convention. He would take the time to ask you about your loved ones. He by no means shied away from answering robust questions round resort staff’ rights and politics. He exemplified what many executives attempt to do however usually fail to do: Present compassion.
In contrast to different company heads who have a tendency to stay to the script, Sorenson did not maintain again in interviews and rarely minced phrases.
In an interview with CNBC in 2018, Sorenson stated the U.S.-China commerce warfare and rhetoric from the Trump administration round immigration was leading to fewer international arrivals and issuances of latest visas.
Earlier this yr, Sorenson was one of many first CEOs to talk out and condemn the Jan. 6 riot on the U.S. Capitol.
“I acknowledge that we now have associates who’ve very totally different views on the outcomes of this election and the path of america … however what we won’t do is trample the Structure,” he stated on the time.
Marriott — positioned in Bethesda, Maryland proper outdoors Washington, D.C. — shortly adopted Sorenson’s assertion by slicing off political donations to the Republicans that voted towards Joe Biden’s certification as president. Different firms responded equally.
On the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, when a whole lot of Marriott workers had been furloughed, Sorenson teared up in an tackle to workers in mid-March.
“I can let you know that I’ve by no means had a tougher second than this one,” he stated on the time. “There may be merely nothing worse than telling extremely valued associates, people who find themselves the very coronary heart of this firm, that their roles are being impacted by occasions which can be fully outdoors their management.”
Whereas competitors has solely heightened over the past 5 years, his longstanding friendship with considered one of his largest rivals, Hilton CEO Chris Nassetta, was maybe a terrific testomony to the kind of chief Sorenson was. Nassetta stated, “I’ll miss him and the friendship we have constructed.”
Sorenson’s demise invited an outpouring of assist and tributes from CEOs, political leaders, and executives from numerous industries together with Walmart CEO Doug McMillon and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
The timing of Sorenson’s demise comes because the hospitality business continues to be reeling from the consequences of Covid-19, whereas additionally gearing up for a possible restoration within the second half of this yr.
A brand new 2021 tendencies report from Expedia discovered that 42% of respondents surveyed stated latest information relating to coronavirus vaccines made them extra hopeful about journey, or drove them to ebook an upcoming journey.
Marriott, which is betting on a giant restoration and a return to bigger venue properties like resorts, introduced plans final week to greater than double its portfolio of all-inclusive resorts with a further 19 new properties, all of that are positioned throughout the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico.
“The attraction of inclusive resorts has been heightened in the course of the pandemic, Tony Capuano, head of worldwide growth at Marriott, informed CNBC in early February.
Capuano together with Stephanie Linnartz, group president of client operations, will proceed to run everyday operations. Whereas the resort operator is unlikely to call a successor to Sorenson so quickly, the corporate is alleged to be contemplating Capuano and Linnartz, in addition to present CFO Leeny Oberg as potential CEO candidates.
Marriott additionally faces competitors from rising competitor Airbnb which noticed a significant soar in bookings final yr as customers fled huge cities for extra space and solace.
Expedia CEO Peter Kern stated its trip rental platform noticed “sturdy progress,” within the final quarter. In a CNBC interview final week, Kern dismissed the concept that vacationers is not going to return to resorts.
“[Home rentals] have been on a terrific tear, Airbnb has been an necessary a part of what is going on on there and we respect, clearly, what they’ve achieved. However I do not suppose it is a grand client shift of how all of us need to journey. Many people do need to return to the spa or go to the resort pool,” stated Kern on “Squawk on the Road” on Feb. 12.
Marriott studies earnings Thursday and the management transition will possible be a subject of dialogue.