Marriott’s Disaster Response Defines Model Management

How Marriott's response defines brand management

It was John F. Kennedy who said; “Change is the law of life. And those who only look at the past or present are sure to miss the future. “With an uncertain future on our doorstep, markets and people strive for someone to demonstrate leadership that is based on reality. Enter Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson.

In an emotional video to employees, he said the current financial situation was worse than the company's worst quarter, with sales down 25 percent. "In terms of our business, COVID-19 is like nothing we've ever seen before," he said. Given the fact that the brand is almost a hundred years old, has survived the Great Depression, World War II and countless economic downturns, this statement carries weight.

The 5-minute message contains everything you would expect from a brand leader in a crisis:

  • Radical openness: The empathy and visible fear that Sorenson feels is palpable. When he says that this is the most challenging message he has ever delivered, there is no doubt. He says: “As a manager, I have never had a more difficult moment than this. There is simply nothing worse than telling highly valued people – people who are at the heart of this company – that their roles are affected by events that are completely beyond their control. " And this is the truth.
  • A clear description of the problem and the effects: In China, business decreased overall by 90%, today business has decreased 75%. Without the agreed measures, layoffs, and business continuity plans, he knew that some properties might not be able to resume operations after the crisis ended.
  • Significant sacrifices made by the entire leadership team: Neither he nor Bill Marriott Jr. will receive remuneration for the rest of the year, and the management team will immediately cut their 50% salary. Some may say that even at 50%, the cut is still many times that of the least paid, but 50% is significant and shows solidarity.
  • Immediate changes to company policies: Many of the company's employees will take at least 60 to 90 days of vacation, while others will switch to 4-day work weeks. The brand will suspend all nonessential travel and freeze hires with the exception of business critical roles. In the individual houses, the food and beverage outlets are closed and, depending on the occupancy, entire floors are closed.
  • Optimism: With the first signs from China, Sorenson expressed hope that business will resume soon as housing demand increases.

As brands navigate in this unprecedented time, brand leaders must continue to rise, be seen and heard by workers and customers. poeticbusiness, transparency, empathy and hope are currently in demand. I encourage every brand marketer to watch Sorenson's video. It is a case study of crisis response that can only be added to your toolkit if you are ever faced with a similar situation.

At The Blake Project, we support clients from all over the world at all stages of development. Redefine and articulate what makes them competitive in critical moments of change through online strategy workshops. Please email me, Derrick Daye for more. I can also be reached directly at 813-842-2260 in Los Angeles, California.

Brand Strategy Insider is a service from The Blake Project: A strategic brand consultancy that specializes in brand research, brand strategy, brand growth and brand building

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