Onsite: Marriott Announces Ambitious Objectives

SAN FRANCISCO—The buzzword at Marriott International Inc.'s 2007 Full Service General Managers Conference was "connectivity." It was announced at the conference that Marriott Hotels & Resorts, JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts and Renaissance Hotels & Resorts will become the first lodging brands to offer high-definition, LCD TVs with a digital connectivity panel in all its guest rooms in the U.S. and Canada. Using the new plug-in panel, guests can connect a variety of digital devices to view on the flat panel, high-definition screen. J.W. Marriott, Jr. addressing the Marriott International Inc. 2007 Full Service General Managers Conference

Marriott's new Great Room concept was also previewed. The company is introducing extensive renovations portfolio-wide to renovate, redesign and reinvent their public and lobby space. The Great Room will have both social and individual zones, opportunities for guests to stay connected outside their rooms.

The company also announced plans to renovate fitness centers, making them on average 60 percent larger than current facilities.

In other news at the conference, Marriott International, Inc. declared it has joined forces with Clean Up the World, a global environmental organization. Marriott International Inc. launched the partnership with a Save the Bay clean-up effort with help from more than 50 Marriott general managers. Look for the company to develop its community efforts as options for group team-building activities.

In a changing world, various executives noted the tremendous profits from bookings on www.marriott.com. The web site accounted for over $4 billion in bookings in 2006. It was also noted how important the growing outbound China market (currently 300 million travelers) was going to be to the future growth of the company. When asked how these developments would affect U.S. travel agents, Michael E. Jannini, executive vice president and general manager global brand strategy and innovation, Marriott International, Inc., responded that the rates on the company's web site are identical to the rates presented to travel agents, and that full integrity between the two will remain. It was later noted that travel agents are responsible for 30 percent of Marriott's leisure bookings, and that the bookings on the web site for the most part represent a customer shift from booking over the toll-free number.

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