On Thursday, May 20, another edition of Smart Talks was held, this time with the company of Juan Paredes and Michael Leon Volko, Vice Presidents of Development of Marriott International for Latin America and the Caribbean. During the conversation, they talked about their progress in the region, where they have about 300 hotels, their loyalty program, conversions, and the application of biosafety protocols in the context of the pandemic. It is worth mentioning that Michael is responsible for the management of development in Brazil, Colombia, and Ecuador, while Juan Paredes, from Argentina, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
First, the guests told us about the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program, this program groups the 30 brands of the most important chain, and has more than 145 million members today, and is considered one of its main strengths, since it allows the best distribution of their hotels with the ability to give benefits to customers. Starting with the crisis and the need to recover by following new travel trends during the pandemic, they reorganized to strengthen their structure and sought to further enhance their loyalty programme at the regional and local levels, as the recovery of the sector is taking place more locally. That is why Marriott Bonvoy cards were recently launched in Mexico, and it is strategies like this that allow the brand to connect even more with its loyal customers and obtain greater production of reserves to recover during the pandemic.
In adapting to the needs that have arisen during the pandemic, Marriott Bonvoy has been able to implement his programs very well, focused on providing a more comfortable work environment for employees of different companies who want to change their work environment for a more comfortable place that provides quality services for their relaxation during their stay. These programs, for example, are the Marriott Day Pass and Stay Pass. With this they seek to integrate the own citizen in the activity of the hotel, (make it local) and provide them with comfortable and safe spaces to offer their services to the local population where they can have a different teleworking experience in destinations near their homes or in their locality. They have also generated alliances with providers of other services that have a connection with the local public. Such is the case of the alliance between Uber Eats and Marriott Bonvoy in the United States, under which when ordering by the delivery application, Points can be earned at Marriott Bonvoy and redeemed using them later to access the services of all brands in the chain. This activity is key to the Hotel since it maintains a completely loyal relationship with its customers.
They then commented on the conversion program. With this, the chain seeks to provide value to small owners according to their standards of quality, safety, as well as knowledge and support in business issues, in hotels of different segments, from luxury, upper upscale to lower midscale. To do this, they have a specialized department in conversions in the region, where they establish the measures of added value to contribute to the operations and the necessary improvements to strengthen the efficiency and the generation of income of the hotel.
Also, aware of the difficulty of making significant investments at this critical time, Marriott has sought to give greater flexibility to conversions in order to attract more partners. In this way, they are extending the time they give their future members to generate the financial resources needed to join Marriott and finally put themselves on the world map, and thus be available to 150 million members around the world, which will generate much greater benefits to the owner compared to staying with an independent hotel status. This is a very important opportunity for existing hotels with a good location and features, but which are in difficulty, for which Marriott offers the necessary follow-up and support.
Part of their fundamental task is always to show the value that the international Marriott chain can take to the activity of the hotel. From the owner, brings value to the property, quality standards, safety. Business also. Understand the result of your business.
Christian Arteaga: is it a vocation within the sector where Marriott works, especially in our region?
Michael Leon Volko: This market is very different. Marriott studied it for many years. They’ve made several conversions as well. They acquired Elegant Hotels Barbados in Barbados. This year in February they closed one of the largest transactions with the Sunwing Travel Group and with Blue Diamond Resorts, they have closed the conversion contract with almost all their properties in the region, equivalent to 8000 rooms in their hotels. Now they have a robust offer of all-inclusive in the region in countries like Colombia, Brazil, where they have just closed a conversion for the first Westin all-inclusive hotel in Porto de Galinhas. It is a great potential, we have products from upscale upper line to luxury, with brands that could surprise many, as the hotels Ritz-Carlton and W that today are also all inclusive.
Where do you see a more marked trend, a facility in which? Tribute, collection, hotels with personality, with their own name to which the structure and standards of Marriott are added, that is where the need for a brand that accompanies and protects commercial agreements is assessed. In Peru they have a very good product development and recognized at regional and global level. For example, the Westin is one of the best in the world, and in Cusco there is another. Marriott Buenos Aires.
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