Marriott marks 75 glory years US-based hotels group

The newly opened Tunis Renaissance... growing brand presence.

Marriott International will be highlighting its 75th anniversary with a strong presence at the Arabian Travel Market this month.

To mark its diamond anniversary, the company expects to open its 2,500th hotel, surpass 17 million members in its Marriott Rewards loyalty program, and exceed $20 billion in systemwide sales.

Led by Ed Fuller, president and managing director of Marriott Lodging International, the group will be at the ATM with up to 35 senior officials and representatives from sales offices and properties around the world, demonstrating Marriott's commitment to the event.

"Our main aim is to continue to develop our relationships in the market. We feel there is already a good understanding of the Marriott brand, and now we want to develop loyal customers," said Samir Daqqaq, vice president of Marriott Global Sales, USA, Middle East, Africa and South Asia.

"Before and after the ATM, we devote key resources to building relationships with potential and current customers. Our stand is always one of the liveliest ones at the show, and this year will be no exception."

Daqqaq said this will be the eighth year of Marriott's participation at the ATM and the group's focus on intra-regional travel will be apparent at this month's event with more properties from the Middle East, Asia, and even Europe present.

"We recently conducted a 'sales blitz' in Saudi Arabia, whereby we visited even the smaller cities to reach out to our customers. In the short term, people are reluctant to visit the US, so we are offering alternative destinations, in Asia, Africa, Australia," he said.

"We are also increasing our portfolio within the Middle East, offering more choice to our customers, for example, in Jordan and Egypt. We are also expanding our offering, eg with new spas, like the one in Doha Marriott and upcoming ones in Mirage City Cairo and the Dead Sea, Jordan."

Daqqaq said seven new Marriott properties are currently and scheduled to open this year or early next year. They are:

* 310-room Taba Marriott Hotel & Beach Resort on the Red Sea in Egypt;

* 425-room JW Marriott Hotel Mirage City, Cairo in Egypt;

* 216-room Jordan Valley Marriott Resort at the Dead Sea in Jordan;

* 168-room Renaissance Golden View Hotel in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt;

* 150-room Madinah Marriott Hotel in Saudi Arabia;

* 310-room Courtyard by Marriott Kuwait; and

* 300-room Aqaba Marriott Hotel and Resort in Jordan, opening in 2004.

"The Middle East is still a prime development market for us, as evidenced by our development team based in Dubai. We have actually had a spate of openings in the last few months," he said.

"For example, we opened the Marriott Executive Apartments in Dubai and the Tunis Renaissance in January. In December, we opened the Ramada Qurum Beach in Oman. In November, the Petra Plaza in Jordan became a Petra Marriott. We also announced plans to open a Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in Kuwait in 2003."

Daqqaq also said more needs to be done to promote ATM outside the region, especially considering the high per-capita spending here.

"It should be promoted at events like the ITB, so that industry professionals are aware of the potential here. To give an example, when we are getting our team together for the ATM, we often have to educate properties about the ATM, and I feel a lot of this work should be done by the event organisers itself," he said.

He said there was also a need for governments to come together on their tourism strategies to package countries together, rather than try to sell them individually.

Daqqaq said Marriott was also working with its partners like Visa, Canon, Motorola to offer more rewards and advantages for guests.