Marriott’s Sorenson Talks Luxury Amid Travel Bans

by Jessica Montevago
Marriott’s Sorenson Talks Luxury Amid Travel Bans

Marriott president and CEO Arne Sorenson at the WTTC Global Summit 2016. Photo: World Travel & Tourism Council 


There was a lot to discuss during Thursday’s earnings call with Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson.

With many in the industry worried about the ramifications of the recent travel ban, Sorenson said Marriott International has not seen a major impact and assured that the seven countries affected are not places that generate a lot of travel to the United States. Still, though, he noted that the move could cause a shift in perspective from international visitors.

“International groups are saying they don’t want to bring an international group to the U.S. We have some anecdotes about folks who reached out to us who said instead of the U.S., how about a place in Canada? I don’t think this is a measurable impact today… I don’t think it would have much impact on transient business at all, because that is the type of travel that is most resilient.”

Sorenson also discussed the progress of integrating Starwood Hotels & Resorts, after acquiring the company last September. While Marriott has repeatedly said it will maintain all 30 distinct brands, Starwood’s Sheraton brand may decrease in the United States as Marriott looks to focus on strengthening its upper-upscale segment. Marriott began surveying Sheraton properties in the U.S. to better define brand standards and “where that brand should go,” Sorenson said.

“I suspect, however, we will see in 2017 that some of the hotels are most obviously at the bottom end of the brand; in other words, they didn't meet whatever standards were in place already,” Sorenson said. If “they don't meet any likely standard that we end up with, we'll see that renovations actually occur in some of those or some of those actually leave the system.”

It’s the strength in the luxury and lifestyle segments, Sorenson said, that’s going to draw in travelers and keep the company relevant in a shifting marketplace. Marriott now owns Starwood’s iconic W brand, as well as recently added lifestyle brands Aloft and Element, in addition to its EDITION, Moxy and AC Hotels.

“When you think about luxury and lifestyle particularly, these are places that travelers, when they dream about travel and when they think about the experiences they most intensely want to have, they are focused on brands like that,” he said.

The company linked its three loyalty programs, Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest, but combining the technology platforms is still a work in progress, Sorenson added.  In addition, determining the fate of their loyalty credit cards is another factor the company is working through. Sorenson said solutions to these issues will hopefully be completed for 2018.    

Beating Wall Street expectations, Marriott’s fourth quarter earnings for 2016 were $244 million, up from $202 million in the same period last year, and revenue increased to $5.46 billion from $3.71 billion.

  0
  0
Tip of the Day
Daily Top List

Most Useful Twitter Accounts for Travel Agents

1. AskTSA

2. FlightRadar24

3. Department of State

4. CLIA Global

5. ASTA

Source: TMR

TMR THIS WEEK
http://services.travelsavers.com/AMGService.svc/REST/GetImage?ImageID=461e0cb1-8512-e811-9f33-782bcb66a2f2

Don't Miss the Boat on Potential Expedition Cruise Sales

Sponsored by Silversea Cruises

Expedition cruising is exploding, according to industry experts, with no signs of slowing down any time soon.

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
Excellence Hotels Growth Highlights the Luxury Evolution of All-Inclusives
Excellence Hotels Growth Highlights the Luxury Evolution of All-Inclusives

Bigger rooms, better food and private clubs are the new standard as the definition of ‘all-inclusive’ goes upscale.

As Luxury Gold and Insight Vacations Grow, Experiential Travel Is at the Forefront
As Luxury Gold and Insight Vacations Grow, Experiential Travel Is at the Forefront

Today's luxury traveler wants personal fulfillment and transformative moments, and meaningful journeys they’ll remember for a lifetime.

Marriott to Take Over Uncompleted Fontainebleau Site in Las Vegas
Marriott to Take Over Uncompleted Fontainebleau Site in Las Vegas

The integrated resort will house the Strip’s first JW Marriott and the city's first EDITION hotel.

What’s Coming to Uniworld Boutique River Cruises in 2019
What’s Coming to Uniworld Boutique River Cruises in 2019

Yoga along the Ganges, wine-making on the Rhine, and a night aboard a luxury junk boat on the Mekong are among the expanded offerings in Europe and Asia.

U.S. News & World Report Ranks Top Luxury Hotels
U.S. News & World Report Ranks Top Luxury Hotels

Properties jostled for position in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Mexico, while Caribbean hotels held their 2017 spots.

Smaller Cruise Companies Meet the Needs of Luxury Travelers
Smaller Cruise Companies Meet the Needs of Luxury Travelers

Partnerships with experiential brands and more itineraries are helping to increase the relevancy of cruising with the luxury traveler.

News Briefs
TMR Report Cards
Advertiser's Voice
Advertiser's Voice: Regent Seven Seas Cruises