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Marriott seeks to double its 270 minority proprietors

Marriott International, Inc. held an Education Summit for aspiring minority hotel owners. The initiative is one of many that the company has implemented…

Marriott International, Inc. held an Education Summit for aspiring minority hotel owners. The initiative is one of many that the company has implemented to double its 270 minority owners and franchisees in five years, and one of the reasons DiversityInc recently ranked Marriott 12th in its annual ranking of the Top 50 Companies for Diversity.

More than 30 prospective minority owners and franchisees attended the workshop at the company`s corporate headquarters. It included information about how prospective sites are evaluated and how hotels are built, financed and operated. The workshops were led by Marriott executives, owners and franchisees, as well as experts from the lending community.

Educating prospective owners and franchisees is key to the company`s diversity ownership initiative because many candidates have substantial business experience, but they do not have a background in the lodging industry, said Norman K. Jenkins, senior vice president of North American Lodging Development for Marriott. During the event, Jenkins presented a $30,000 check to Andy Ingram, president of the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers, to help the organization reach its goal of increasing the number of African-Americans who manage, operate and own hotels.

Marriott`s aggressive diversity ownership initiatives work to assist minorities who have significant business experience; are interested in developing hotels or acquiring or rebranding hotels; or those interested in taking equity positions in hotels under development by Marriott or its development partners. The lodging leader`s outreach includes providing minorities with additional operations support where appropriate, as well as flexible transaction terms that can include application and royalty fee support, key money, and various forms of credit enhancement.

The company demonstrates its commitment to increasing minority hotel ownership by guiding prospective owners through the process, said Deanne Ayers-Howard, who in 1998 became the owner of the TownePlace Suites by Marriott in Sterling/Cascades, Va.

The company`s recent minority recruitment success includes the groundbreaking of a Courtyard by Marriott hotel with significant minority ownership in Harlem, N.Y., and the opening of the $43 million Residence Inn by Marriott Capitol in Washington, D.C., co-owned by four Native American tribes.

The company`s recently expanded, broad-based diversity outreach goals include:

  • Pledged $1 billion in spending with minority-and women-owned suppliers over the next five years
  • Forged relationships with four minority- and women-owned and managed financial services firms

More than 16 years ago, Marriott became the first lodging company to establish a diversity program, and it has continued to set the standard for the industry. The National Association for the Advancement of Color People (NAACP) has ranked Marriott at the top of the lodging industry six out of seven times in its annual lodging industry report card. As a Hall of Fame member of Fortune magazine`s 100 Best Companies to Work For list for eight consecutive years, Marriott has always been committed to employing a talented and diverse workforce. In particular, the company has doubled the number of women and minorities in its top 400 leadership positions over the last six years. Marriott`s current and future success in workforce diversity is supported through programs such as its Leadership Education Series, which teaches managers how to lead and build their careers in today`s increasingly diverse and complex marketplace.