Franchisor Profile: Liam Brown, Marriott International, Inc.

Liam Brown Marriott International

Liam Brown is Chief Operating Officer, The Americas, Select Services, Marriott International, Inc., and first Vice Chair of the International Franchise Association’s Executive Committee.

When J. Willard Marriott and Alice S. Marriott set up their A&W root beer stand in Washington, D.C., in May of 1927, little did they know that their fledgling business would develop into the global hospitality enterprise that Marriott is today.

In Washington, D.C., a pair of newlyweds fresh from Utah opened a nine-stool A&W root beer franchise on busy 14th Street, charging thirsty patrons “five cents for a frosty mug.” The future Marriott International, Inc. was born. Soon dubbed “The Hot Shoppe,” J. Willard and Alice Marriott’s tiny soda fountain quickly became one of the capital city’s most popular eateries. Customers could count on quick service, low prices, and good food dished up in a clean and friendly atmosphere. Taking to heart the real estate proverb “location, location, location,” the Marriotts studied the capital’s busiest streets, scouting for additional restaurant sites.

The post-war boom in business and vacation travel meant more than just full parking lots at every Hot Shoppe; tourists and other travelers needed a roof over their heads at night. A new business opportunity beckoned. In 1957, the company unveiled the Twin Bridges Motor Hotel, a 365-room facility on Route 1, in Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

The Marriott family scrambled to have the huge hotel open in time for Dwight Eisenhower’s inauguration.

Before the paint was dry at Twin Bridges Motor Hotel, 25-year-old J.W. Marriott, Jr., asked to be put in charge of the company’s new hotel business. After four years away at college and a two-year stint in the Navy, Bill was eager to carve a niche for himself in the family enterprise.

He set out to master every aspect of hotel operations, even “putting together room service trays and filling guest orders myself” until he could train someone else to take over the job. The intensive homework paid off. By the time the huge Atlanta Marriott – the company’s fifth property – opened in 1965, Bill Marriott’s future in hotels was assured, and J. Willard Marriott had named his son president of Marriott Hot Shoppes, Inc.

For Bill Marriott, the future looked particularly bright. After a lifetime in the hospitality business, he knew almost as much about the company as his father. No one was surprised when, in 1972, at age 40, he was named CEO of what was now known as Marriott Corporation. Many of the responsibilities, duties and authority that J. Willard had borne for nearly half a century were now Bill’s.

Regarded as a lodging innovator, Mr. Marriott began shifting the company’s business model in the late 1970s from hotel ownership to property management and franchising. His strategic decision allowed the company to accelerate its growth and broaden its leadership position.

That transformation culminated in the company’s split in 1993 into Marriott International, a hotel management and franchising company, headed by Mr. Marriott, and Host Marriott International, a hotel ownership company chaired by his brother, Richard Marriott.

J.W. Marriott, Jr. is currently Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board. He was Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board for 40 years, before stepping down on March 31, 2012. His leadership spans nearly 60 years, and has taken Marriott from a family restaurant business to a global lodging company.

Marriott International Today

Marriott is an international lodging leader, with more than 4,100 properties in 79 countries and territories, and the broadest portfolio of brands in the industry. In the 85+ years since our inception, Marriott has firmly established a culture of innovation, service and leading performance. Size, talent, and technology combine to deliver the industry’s most powerful distribution systems, leading frequent traveler program, and innovative global sales and marketing strategies. Our ultimate goal is to partner with our owners and franchisees to invest resources wisely, maximize profitability, and grow RevPAR and preference across our brands.

At Marriott, we enjoy a strong collaborative relationship with our owners and franchisees – and that, in turn, is reflected in high levels of franchisee and owner satisfaction. Every owner and franchisee has a dedicated account manager who serves as a single point of contact and an advocate within Marriott. We are dedicated to providing the resources needed to get your hotel up and running and competing effectively in its market.

2014 was a year of tremendous growth: in rooms, revenue, global expansion, and new brands. Marriott International opened its first Moxy Hotel in Milan, acquired Protea Hotels, brought AC Hotels to the United States, opened an EDITION in Miami, and added the Atlantis to the Autograph Collection Hotel brand. As well, Marriott International debuted at #18 on Forbes’ World’s Most Innovative Companies List, the highest ranking of any hotel company. Our approach to powering our portfolio through innovation is deeply rooted in our culture of continuous improvement, such that success is never final.

Innovation drives us at our headquarters location and on-property; based on end-user and owner insight and geared towards growing customer preference. This drive has resulted in multiple industry firsts and new ways of interacting with guests and owners. In 2014, Marriott:

  • Launched Mobile Check-In and Check-Out across nearly 500 Marriott Hotels around the world – the industry’s first and largest brand to offer mobile services.
  • Invested in an Innovation Lab at headquarters to host customers and test design concepts.
  • Announced the formation of a new global content studio to further the company’s focus on next-generation travelers and to drive new business.

Our CEO, Arne Sorenson, has supercharged innovation with global leadership, and our associates’ talent capabilities are continually enhanced with collaboration tools and training. Our mission is to define the cutting edge of the industry, from strategy through design; to deliver new products, services and experiences that differentiate our brands and drive competitive advantage.

Marriott International Franchising

Marriott International now has nearly 3,000 franchised hotels worldwide. The company offers franchises for 18 brands including: Marriott Hotels, The Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott, Bulgari, EDITION, Renaissance, Gaylord Hotels, Autograph Collection, AC Hotels by Marriott, Moxy Hotels, Courtyard, Fairfield Inn & Suites, SpringHill Suites, Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, Protea Hotels, Marriott Executive Apartments, and Marriott Vacation Club.

And the franchise growth for the company continues. Marriott’s commitment to franchising is demonstrated by the strategy to drive excellent returns to franchisees while ensuring on-strategy growth for the company.

Using a strategic account management approach, Marriott offers dedicated support to each franchise owner. Account Executives are assigned and manage the relationships at the franchise management company level. Marriott serves as the liaison into the building and brings the franchisees’ ideas and best practices to every discipline and business leader. And, since relationships are critical, we work to build trust and act in a way that is transparent.

Marriott is focused on ensuring that clear and timely communications are shared with the franchise community. Through appropriate communication channels, account executives work to ensure that brand/product integrity and initiative pull-through are achieved.

Liam Brown, President, U.S. & Canada for Select Service & Extended Stay Lodging and Owner & Franchise Services oversees all of Marriott’s franchising in North America, across all brands. Mr. Brown began his career with Marriott International in 1989. As the first Vice Chair of the International Franchise Association’s Executive Committee, Liam Brown and Marriott International are fully committed to IFA’s mission to protect, enhance, and promote franchising.

For more information on franchising with Marriott International, visit or call 301/380.3200.

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