NEW YORK — Just down the street from this week's NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference, Marriott International built a 4,200-square-foot “vignette” of its new vision for Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, the third-largest brand in its portfolio and its largest outside of North America in terms of room count.
The company introduced its new Sheraton guestroom late last year, and used the pop-up space during the conference to promote the new look to existing and future owners.
During the company's 2017 Investor Day, Marriott's chief commercial officer Stephanie Linnartz acknowledged that Sheraton was experiencing scrutiny over its delivery and owner return on investment. "Sheraton has been plagued by poor consumer perception in North America," Linnartz said at the time, pointing to both the physical product and service. "There is a wide gap between the best and the worst hotels," she continued. "There has been poor quality assurance and inadequate accountability."
Today, the company is taking steps to close that gap. “From the moment we closed the Starwood [Hotels & Resorts Worldwide] merger in late 2016, the revitalization of Sheraton has been a top priority for our company,” Arne Sorenson, Marriott's president and CEO, said in a statement. “We knew that the way to restore this incredible brand was focus and collaboration with our hotel owners. We wanted to build on Sheraton’s rich legacy of sitting at the heart of communities across the globe, but also to create a differentiated positioning and compelling proposition for our owners. With our Sheraton transformation plan, we’ve put together all of the pieces of the equation to work cooperatively with our owners to set this iconic brand on a new, disciplined and successful path. We are ready, our vision is clear and the energy is robust for Sheraton.”
“Marriott International is well positioned to deliver a comprehensive strategy for Sheraton’s brand transformation and we already have great momentum,” said Tina Edmundson, global brand officer for Marriott. “This is the first time in years that the brand has been above competitive benchmark in both rate and occupancy. We have improved brand standards, increased group bookings and have ramped up our business engine over the last year as a first step in a multiphase, multiyear plan, leveraging our experience in revitalizing lodging brands.”
The company undertook a repositioning of the Marriott Hotels brand beginning in 2013, redesigning the guestroom and MClub Lounge working with Marriott hotel owners. Renovated Marriott Hotels have seen market share gains of, on average, 9 percent and “intent to recommend” scores from customers that are eight points on average higher than nonrenovated hotels.
With the Sheraton guestroom renovations underway, the brand is focusing now on public spaces, emphasizing socialization, productivity and personalization in collaborative venues and technology-enabled designs.
The lobbies will get new seating and shared communal tables with lockable drawers so that guests can leave items behind for short breaks while they work. New partially enclosed meeting areas will be available for booking at hourly rates for guests who prefer to work in a less-public space. When they need to make phone calls, guests can use privacy booths.
Owners have already committed an estimated half-billion dollars in renovations of hotels across the U.S. Globally, 25 percent of Sheraton hotels have committed to renovations. with some already underway.
Sheraton by the Numbers
Since joining Marriott International as part of the acquisition of Starwood in September 2016, Sheraton has exited 6,000 rooms with another 2,000 expected to depart by the end of the year. During the same period, 5,000 rooms were signed to the portfolio. Intent to recommend for the brand has already increased 2 points year-over-year and market share has grown for the first time in years.
Sheraton’s portfolio currently consists of nearly 450 open hotels with 80 additional projects in the pipeline in 72 countries and territories. By 2020, the brand’s footprint is expected to expand to 90 countries.