Tour of Marriott Corporate Headquarters in Maryland

Posted: Wednesday, April 15th 2015 at 12:07 PM

SHRM sponsors a trip each year for students to visit the corporate office of a major hospitality company. It is a recognition trip for outstanding seniors. This year, from Friday, April 10 to Sunday, April 12, 2015, twelve students traveled to the Marriott International Corporate Office in Bethesda, Maryland outside of Washington, D.C. Jonathan Hales, SHRM associate professor, organized the trip and accompanied the students.

They spent a day at the corporate office where senior managers spoke to them about hotel operations. The highlight that day was time spent with Debbie Marriott Harrison, granddaughter of the founder, JW Marriott, Sr., and daughter of current Chairman JW Marriott, Jr. Harrison is a member of the International Board of Directors and Marriott's Global Officer, Culture and Business Councils.

Marriott started as a 9-seat root beer stand in 1927 and developed into Hot Shoppe restaurants and then hotels and is now a hotel management company. It became Marriott Corporation in 1960.

"You could feel the importance of company culture and history from the stories and comments that she shared with us," said Hales.

“Even though [Harrison] has such a high position and is really successful, she seemed really close to us,” said student Catalin Taatz. “She was interested in what we had to say.”

Marriott has continued to grow since the beginning of the company and students appreciated that the company is keeping up with the times. A common theme that employees mentioned was a planned shift to appeal more to the millennial generation.

“Their goal is really to target our generation, the millennials, and seeing what steps they are taking to make this happen was very interesting,” said Kelly Madden. “I previously looked at Marriott as a conservative, older generation company but my opinion has definitely changed after this trip.”

"Marriott continues to prove why they are one of the leaders in the hospitality industry, and it was an honor to be able to meet with these executives while representing the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management," added student Andrew Corbett.

The students toured the corporate facility to see the support Marriott provides to hotels in the field, including the test kitchen and innovation lab, a 10,000 square foot room where employees can experiment with new set-ups in their hotels.

“I loved seeing the different layouts of the rooms and how they plan and design them,” student Kristen Yagade said.

Student Alisia Magdaleno enjoyed that part of the tour as well. “It was eye-opening to see how everyone continues to work towards the idea that success is never final and, while there will always be the classic standard, there is always room for improvement.”

The second day they were fortunate to tour the new Marquis Marriott in downtown Washington, D.C. It is the largest hotel in D.C. with 1,100 rooms and over 100,000 square feet of meeting space. The hotel was sold out and all of their meeting space was occupied so they were able to see a major hotel in full operation.

Students also had the opportunity to make valuable connections in the hospitality industry. 

“I never would have expected this trip to be so amazing, and I got so much out of it,” added student Alexandra Hixon. “I met some great people, I made great connections, I found out more about Marriott, and I explored Washington D.C. It was an experience that I will never forget.”

“It was a rewarding experience to say the least, and I thank Professor Hales for putting the trip together, and SHRM for allowing us to go,” said student Clairese Eckman. “I highly recommend this trip for future students of SHRM.”

Categories: students spring 2015 marriott corporate headquarters jonathan hales debbie marriott harrison marriott international, inc. 2015 marriott senior trip corporate headquarters