GO INSIDE ONE OF THE LARGEST HOTEL EMPIRES ON EARTH
CNBC Original Reported by Scott Wapner
ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J., NOVEMBER 30, 2012— Have you ever wondered about the herculean effort that goes into running a successful hotel—or thousands of them?
On Wednesday December 12th at 9PM ET/PT, CNBC presents "Hotel: Behind Closed Doors at Marriott," a CNBC original documentary reported by Scott Wapner. With extraordinary behind-the-scenes access, the documentary takes viewers inside Marriott International, a global hospitality dynasty that spans 74 countries, 3,700 properties, and 18 brands from Courtyard to Marriott to Ritz-Carlton. Each night, Marriott pulls off the massive feat of housing and feeding guests in more than 645,000 rooms worldwide. The company is an American nameplate that has thrived through a savvy combination of playing it safe while also taking huge, calculated risks.
CNBC goes inside the New Orleans Marriott twice, once as hotel managers and employees prepare for Hurricane Isaac—a nerve wracking exercise for a crew still scarred by Katrina—and again on a more "typical" day, to follow the money that flows in and out of a big box hotel. It's a bustling 43-story city unto itself, from housekeepers who clean each of the 1,400 rooms in less than 30 minutes, to a kitchen staff running 30 catered events a day—including a banquet for two thousand people. Wapner speaks with Executive Chef Mark Quitney who works tirelessly to feed guests, day and night, because food and beverage bring in almost a third of the hotel's revenue. On the day cameras were present, this one hotel generated a profit of more than $300,000.
CNBC profiles 81-year old J.W. "Bill" Marriott, Jr., the recently retired CEO of the company that bears his name. He might seem like a soft-spoken, grandfatherly figure, but as viewers will see, beneath the quiet exterior is a man who has succeeded through unrelenting tenacity and drive. One industry insider – among several that have sued the hotel company—tells Wapner that going head-to-head with Bill Marriott is like having, "… a pile of people with sledgehammers beating you on the head." In 40 years, Mr. Marriott has converted his father's food company, which began as a single root beer stand, into the world's largest publicly traded hotel corporation. Marriott discusses his boldest bets, from deciding to build the huge 2,000 room Marriott Marquis in what was then New York City's crime-ridden Times Square, to expanding overseas, to his decision to pass over his four children and name Arne Sorenson as his successor. He also talks about his unconventional, highly successful decision to move the company away from owning hotels and towards managing them—now the industry standard.
CNBC travels to India, where Marriott has 15 hotels and 50 more planned, to witness the company's shrewd expansion into the developing world. Home to some of the finest hotels, CNBC sees firsthand the challenges of operating in one of the most corrupt and daunting markets in the world—where building a hotel can take more than 5 years, electric power fails daily and the municipal water is unfit to drink. Hotels in India also face a global challenge—terrorism.
Of Marriott's 18 brands, its crown jewel is Ritz-Carlton, the legendary benchmark of luxury service. CNBC explores the obsessive attention to customer service, following the concierge who must cater to every indulgent whim, and observing how the company walks a fine line between maintaining its classic, formal style of service while also trying to appear chic and up-to-date.
The documentary also explores the strange science of hotel pricing and explains why guests can pay wildly different prices for comparable rooms. CNBC speaks with Marriott executive Dave Roberts, who explains how the company makes the most money from every hotel, every night, based on formulas that forecast availability and demand. Roberts tells Wapner, "If there's money that we missed on the table, it hurts me. I feel physical pain."
For more information including slideshows and web extras, visit: marriott.cnbc.com.
Mitch Weitzner is the Senior Executive Producer of "Hotel: Behind Closed Doors at Marriott." Wally Griffith is the Senior Producer and Deborah Camiel is the Producer. Ray Borelli is the Senior Vice President of Strategic Research, Scheduling and Long Form Programming.
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