Marriott won’t stop its growth in Latin America and the Caribbean
To know in detail the current status of the hotel chain, we interviewed exclusively Louise Bang, Vice President of Global Sales for the Caribbean and Latin America
The merger of Marriott with Starwood has generated a true revolution in the tourism market worldwide. To better understand the news and future plans of the firm, we have been able to interview Louise Bang, Vice President of Global Sales for the Caribbean and Latin America exclusively. We share the same below.
With the recent merger, what is your strategy in our region?
The merger has been a truly exciting time for Marriott International in the Caribbean and Latin America. We doubled the number of hotels in the region and added more exceptional talent to Marriott’s Global Sales team to look after our most valuable B2B customers. Our strategy in the region is one of continued growth and, from a Global Sales perspective, we are focused on building deeper and stronger relationships with our partners.
How have these changes impacted the trade market?
Very positively and we have worked hard to ensure this was the case, listening to the needs of our partners and incorporating their voice into our plans. We have established four new offices in the region, namely in Chile, Colombia, Argentina and Peru. We increased the size of our existing teams in Brazil and Mexico. We also quadrupled the size of our luxury specialist team. We now have talented team members dedicated to our luxury brands covering Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Peru. The latest addition is Colombia, which will have its own specialist starting in July.
With the breadth and scope of our Marriott brands globally, our partners now have one single point of contact, in their Global Sales team, to assist them with all their travel needs across 30 brands and over 6,500 hotels globally. This supports our vision of becoming the world’s favorite travel company.
We have also enhanced our customer events in each market, creating engaging and memorable experiences for our B2B customers as they gather to meet with our hoteliers and share learnings and global travel experiences.
What is today’s percentage of direct sales vs. trade?
I don’t have these figures at hand. However, a well-balanced source of business mix has always been important to our success and we partner closely with all our customers.
What is your MICE strategy?
MICE is a crucial part of our business and we are always striving to host more at Marriott International hotels. With our innovation in food and beverage, technology and meeting concepts, we are confident that we have the hotel, product and service experience for each event. The benefit of scale also allows us to share creative ideas for setups, experiences and culinary innovations on a global basis. This creates an unrivaled access to global trends that we can share with our customers.
What can we expect from the hospitality segment in both leisure and MICE over the next five years in the region?
As the growth in leisure travel continues to outpace other segments of the business, especially as it relates to luxury leisure travel, we foresee a greater focus on experiences. With Marriott’s recent investment in Place Pass, and the exciting unification of the loyalty program and Marriott Moments, we feel that we are exceptionally well-positioned to satisfy this appetite for experiences. We truly offer unique experiences, from a gourmet pastry class in Paris to a helicopter ride to glacier and dog sledding in Juneau.
As for MICE, this is such an important part of our business and we are eager to invest more in the group experiences at each of our hotels. Scale is hugely beneficial for us, as we can benchmark meeting, incentive, conference and event trends globally and bring them to a local hotel experience. The need for face to face encounters, advisory boards, industry conferences, trade events, small board meetings as well as incentive trips to reward fantastic results, alongside in-market events to launch new products and services will continue to grow as the world economies expand and companies continue to strengthen their performance. Our aim is to ensure that Marriott International is the preferred venue for all events.
How does technology contribute to GSO besides facilitating business?
Technology is central to all we do. Just looking at our own personal habits, let alone business needs, demonstrates what a central role technology plays in our lives. We also see changes in the technology landscape disrupting the travel industry at large. It keeps us all on our toes.
Global Sales is all about relationships. Technology allows us to stay close to our customers, anticipate their needs, facilitate communication and share insights and learnings on how we all need to adapt to a changing landscape in travel and the distribution revolution. It also allows our team to stay abreast of all the new hotels, destinations, and innovations happening within Marriott International and the experiences we are curating for our guests around the world. Through technology, our Global Sales associates become more valuable partners.
Will there be upcoming openings in Latin America featuring innovative brands?
Currently we have 250 hotels under 19 brands in the region and we are certainly looking forward to having the rest of the brands in the region.
Any additional information for our audience of travel agents about facing today’s industry challenges?
The speed with which the travel landscape is changing is both exciting and daunting in equal measures. It means we all need to continue to invest and innovate and stay relevant to the ever-changing travel needs of our customers.
At our recently hosted event in Panama, The Exchange, Caribbean & Latin America, we shared insights into favored topics within the travel community, such as Future Traveler Tribes, brand differentiation, the role of loyalty in travel, social media and the power of personal brand. These were all topics that had arisen in conversations with our customers throughout the 12 months leading up to the conference.
As we gathered the feedback on the insights shared, our top customers in attendance highlighted the value of stronger partnerships, deeper friendships and new experiences. They also reiterated growth and the need to invest to continue to be successful. That clearly showed us the path forward and aligns to our strategy in the region.