In September, I introduced you to Glenn Jordi, a former Starwood Hotels & Resorts employee, who wrote an endearing goodbye letter to the company subsequent to leaving it as a manager of talent acquisition. You can read all about that, here.
Well, Jordi is back with another open letter. Only this time, the tone isn't as cuddly. Seems he takes issue with a post composed on LinkedIn by Marriott International Global Brand Officer Tina Edmundson. (The full extent of you can read, here.) The topic of which had to do with Starwood's merger-cum-digestion by Marriott. The posting, entitled "Take it From Me, I’ve Merged Before," is rooted in fact: Edmundson worked for ITT Sheraton at the time it was acquired by Starwood back in 1998.
She writes in her post, dated Sept. 27, 2016: "I have a unique lens on this because I worked for Starwood for almost two decades and I’ve been redefining and creating Marriott International’s Luxury and Lifestyle hotel brands for the past eight years. I know the strengths of each company, and where they are working to be better.
"Here’s what I say: Will the merger be easy? It’s a creative challenge. Change is one of the hardest things for most of us. But this combination of experience, expertise and a real commitment to creativity and innovation will bring us together and make us stronger."
She continued: "Part of its success is that Marriott infuses its core value of putting people first through the company and across each property. The idea is to treat each associate with respect and kindness, and they will do the same for guests."
This may be where Jordi takes exception. Because while the merger sounds so nice and easy on paper, not everyone involved will come through it unscathed. "What is not mentioned and forgotten is that the vast majority of Starwood corporate associates will never work for Marriott in the long run," Jordi wrote.
It's true, but like any merger, these things are bound to happen. So while Edmundson's post makes some excellent points (though the unenviable artificial scent of PR speak appears to course through it), many who might not make it through to the other side could feel some resentment.
Here is the full text of Jordi's post, which he titled: "Starwood/Marriott Merger - The Ugly Truth"
I felt compelled to write a follow-up piece to my post bidding adieu to Starwood after I read yet another well-written, sincere but misleading piece on the merger between Starwood and Marriott.
There is no doubt and no dispute that this merger is ultimately a positive for the hospitality industry and a triumph of brands. As I have stated previously, I would have preferred Starwood to stand alone and continue to innovate. But, my personal bias particularly after I have left the company is irrelevant. Everyone at Marriott seems to be thrilled about the merger, as they should be. They are gaining outstanding, innovative brands along with fiercely loyal customers tied to a loyalty program which changed the industry. In addition, Marriott gets an army of Starwood Associates, many of whom helped develop these brands, along with their skills, passion and brilliance.
What is not mentioned and forgotten in most publications however is that the VAST majority of Starwood Corporate Associates will never work for Marriott in the long run. They will never experience the "family-run, caring deeply about their associates" company that has been touted throughout the merger process. The reality is that earlier this year every single person at Starwood Corporate, except for a very small chosen few, had been given end-dates for their jobs. Ostensibly, everyone has been/will be laid off. Many received end-dates for soon after the merger is completed, others for 2 years after. Everyone else is somewhere in between based on the importance of their function relative to a smooth merger transition. But any way you choose to view it, all are losing their jobs. Marriott, of course has given the opportunity for all Starwood Corporate Associates to apply for jobs at the newly formed company. If selected, they would go through an interview process which includes past performance reports review, reaching out to the superiors of candidates for recommendations (or condemnations) in addition to a formal interview process.
While this is great and will allow some to transition permanently to Marriott, let us not forget that Marriott is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland. Starwood is/was based in Stamford, Connecticut. Marriott plans to wind down the Stamford operation completely. At the time of my voluntary departure, I had not encountered one colleague across the company willing to move to Maryland. Certainly there are those who are willing, who will obtain new positions with the merged company and move to Maryland, albeit a small number. But, the fact remains that while Marriott has bought Starwood and all of its' treasures, they have left behind many of the people who made Starwood such a valuable organization.
There is no doubt that Marriott is a great company. But, let's keep in mind and be honest with each other that while this is a great thing for hotel lovers, MANY people have lost and will lose their jobs. This is the ugly reality and common collateral damage of mergers and acquisitions that outsiders of these companies understandably fail to realize but should be cognizant of. No one really thinks of the duplication of positions that takes place when these announcements are made public and there almost always is large-scale duplication. The only people this merger really benefits are the shareholders of Starwood and Marriott, Marriott itself, and loyalty program members, certainly NOT Starwood Corporate Associates.
So, is Jordi right? Or is this the product of feeling slighted? Let me know via Twitter @DavidEisen3.