Without Reservations: How a Family Root Beer Stand Grew into a Global Hotel Company
In Without Reservations, global business leader and hotel industry icon J.W. "Bill" Marriott, Jr., shares both the story of and the recipe for the success of Marriott International, one of the world's leading hotel companies. The company began with one family-run root beer stand and grew over eight decades, through his leadership, into a global corporation that is widely respected for the business it does and the way it does business. In 1964, on the eve of being named president of the company, Marriott's father, founder and then-CEO J. Willard Marriott, Sr., tucked a letter in his 32-year-old son's desk drawer. The letter contained insights and guideposts that proved invaluable as Bill Jr., blazed the trail not only for his company, but for the hospitality industry as well. The letter, printed in this book, provides timeless advice for any person in any business who aims to achieve success. Without Reservations is a compilation of engaging stories that takes the reader behind the scenes as events and decisions unfold.
don’t plan to go anywhere any time soon. After spending better than 60 years in the company I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I didn’t have an office to go to. Besides, Donna, my lovely wife of 57 years, says she married me “for better and for worse … but not for lunch.” PART I: PUT PEOPLE FIRST “Take care of your employees, and they’ll take care of your customers.” — J. WILLARD MARRIOTT co-founder (with Alice Sheets Marriott), Hot Shoppes CHAPTER 1: PAY IT FORWARD
enterprise. Size alone makes it a challenge to communicate meaningfully with associates working at thousands of locations around the world. Fortunately, as we’ve expanded, so has the Internet and other methods of real–time communication. Compared to just 20 years ago, we can reach out with amazing speed and depth to our associates wherever they are around the globe. Marriott is not only geographically dispersed but culturally diverse as well. Our nearly 3,800 hotels are spread out in more than
product was one of the most interesting and revealing. Choosing “Courtyard” was easy; a survey of customer preference settled the question. The hard part was deciding whether or not to include the word “Marriott” in the name. Skeptics and worriers expressed concern that attaching the Marriott tag to a moderate–priced product would tarnish the full–service brand name. Courtyard devotees argued that the Marriott name was vital to boost the product’s profile and enhance its chances of success. Was
the company down by allowing us to get so caught up in the gross overbuilding of the business. My dad had passed away in 1985 and wasn’t alive to see the drama unfold. Even so, I could almost hear him chiding me from on high, “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.” Our biggest problem was our debt level, which reached $3.6 billion at year–end 1990. Development isn’t cheap. But we were determined not to follow the path our competitors took: sell good sites and hotels at fire–sale prices. In spite of the
grease in the fryer. The grease mixed with the soap and the water, and the resulting foam rose, and rose and rose. It bubbled up until it spilled out over the side of the fryer, all over me, and all over the floor. It took forever to clean up the mess. To this day I don’t know if my boss simply didn’t tell me how to clean the fryer, or if I wasn’t paying attention when he did. At any rate, it taught me a lesson I’ve never forgotten. And it made me a diehard fan of training. I particularly