Marriott International, innovation and growth in Latin America and the Caribbean
The hotel chain has left behind the worst of the health crisis and is committed to adding properties, entering new segments and introducing brands in more destinations in the region
During her time in Buenos Aires, we were able to exclusively interview Louise Bang, Regional Vice President, Sales & Distribution - Caribbean & Latin America of Marriott. The executive gave us a complete overview of the company. We share her responses below:
What has been the reason for your visit to Argentina?
I have a desire to visit all the markets that have opened and where travel restrictions have been eased. That way I can see all of our employees in our hotels and also meet with clients. The idea is also to talk about the future, seeing what prospects there are and how we can help boost demand. Buenos Aires has always been a very important city for me and I am happy to be here.
In our newsroom we receive many market studies and most agree that there is a strong rebound, but some give final recovery dates for 2023 others for 2024, what is the vision at Marriott?
That varies a lot by segment, the one that recovered the fastest that we have seen globally has been the vacation segment, along with the long stay segment. It is evident that the pandemic generated an avidity to leave homes and seek destinations in the world where there are not many restrictions to travel. The group segment is also recovering, especially in the United States, in the Caribbean and also in various destinations in Latin America. At MICE we see industries where events are really being reactivated, such as insurance companies, banks and pharmaceutical companies. In addition, there are medium and small companies that started their businesses in the pandemic or right now and need to see their new clients or launch products and that is very beneficial for us, it is expanding our business portfolio.
What is the objective of the Marriott today?
Our goal remains the same, we want to be the world's favorite travel company. The idea is that guests travel with us on whatever occasion they have, whether for business or pleasure. Additionally, we are looking to increase the number of Marriott Bonvoy members and enhance engagement with the program.
What is Marriott's distribution mix like at such an important time?
It fascinates me that you ask me the question, it is something that I am very passionate about. I remember that in 2018, when I took up my position in the region, I explained the evolution that all the distribution channels were going to have and at that moment they looked at me a little surprised. I had experienced the changes that were to come in the United States and in Europe. I think that the pandemic greatly accelerated times, technology in general made the task easier. In general terms, we want our product to be available through any channel that the guest wants to buy, that is key. We have many years of very close relationship with travel agencies and tour operators. They know their business intimately in the same way that we know our guests. We want to continue our partnerships in the future. At the same time, we want our product to be present in our direct channels at a reasonable and profitable price. For us it is crucial because the customer is also inclined to buy from different channels depending on the need for the trip.
The pandemic posed many challenges that you have already been overcoming, what have you learned along the way?
We have made an effort to innovate, we have worked to reuse the facilities of our hotels in a much more effective way. In fact, the Sheraton Buenos Aires Hotel & Convention Center and the Park Tower Buenos Aires are great examples in this field. We have sought to reactivate the demand of the vacation guest who wanted to escape for a weekend in their own city and that is what has been easy to adjust for some. The complex thing has been to see how for the first time the travel and hospitality industry did not necessarily guarantee jobs.
What are your short and medium term plans in Latin America and the Caribbean?
We currently have 306 hotels and another 113 to open. In addition, many renovations of important properties are coming. We will be able to offer a world of experiences that were previously not available to us. This also gives us the opportunity to develop new business segments.
What does it mean for you to enter the world of "all inclusive"?
It's fascinating, we're working on this, we learn something new every day. It really is a new product that we can offer to our clients who previously could not select a hotel from our chain if they wanted to make a trip. We are evolving, seeking to even offer new properties in the luxury segment with a spectacular gastronomic offer and a stellar entertainment proposal. Even the “all inclusive” segment allowed us to start operating in some destinations for the first time.
We are looking at new projects that will be opened shortly and it is exciting to see how our offer will grow to provide the traveler with more options.