Marriott CEO delivers emotional message in response to COVID-19

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

Arne Sorenson was brought to tears detailing some of the hard choices he’s had to make in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In its 92 year history, Marriott International has endured through numerous world events – the Great Depression and World War II, and more recently September 11 and the Global Financial Crisis of 2008–09.

However, in a video message released Thursday, Marriott International’s CEO and president Arne Sorenson said “COVID-19 is like nothing we’ve ever seen before” and that it is having more of an impact on the company than both 9/11 and the GFC combined.

“In two weeks I will mark my eighth anniversary as CEO … as a leader I have experienced so many wonderful highs and a good number of challenging lows,” he said.

“I can tell you that I’ve never had a more difficult moment than this one.

“There is simply nothing worse than telling highly valued associates – people who are the very heart of this company – that their roles are being impacted by events completely outside of their control.

“I’ve never been more determined to see us through than I am at this moment.

“While it is impossible to know how long this crisis will last, I know we as a global community will come through the other side, and that when we do our guests will be eager to travel this beautiful world again.

“When that great day comes, we will be there to welcome them with the warmth and care we are known for the world over,” Sorenson said.

He also detailed the various steps Marriott is taking to get past the crisis, including Marriott International, which you can view in his full address, below.

Among the measures being taken by the company are the furloughing of perhaps tens of thousands of employees for at least two to three months, as well as the shortening of work weeks for employees and executives not working directly at hotels.

See more: Marriott sees signs of China recovery

Marriott executive chairman Bill Marriott Jr. and Sorenson will also receive no salary for the rest of 2020, and the Marriott International executive team will take 50 percent pay cuts.

It comes as Marriott’s global business is running 75 per cent lower than normal. As a result, hundreds of hotels have closed and some are at risk of never re-opening.

As it stands, the company’s current financial situation is more dire than the worst quarter ever in the company’s business – the fourth quarter of 2001 – which saw an approximate 25 percent decline on average in Marriott’s international hotel revenue.

Sorenson, who is currently battling pancreatic cancer, appeared with his head shaven in the video. He reassured employees that his appearance was what was to be expected, given his current medical treatment.

“I feel good and my team and I are 100 percent focused on overcoming the common crisis we face,” he said.

At Travel Weekly, we know this is a difficult time for all of you. 

If you’re not feeling okay and/or need some guidance, Beyond Blue has some great tips HERE for coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, which we encourage everyone to read.

The Australian Federation of Travel Agents (AFTA) also has some great resources for travel agents seeking business advice, which you can find HERE.

And Australia’s consumer watchdog has got some great advice for business and consumer rights and obligations during this time. You can find that HERE.

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