Marriott International’s board of directors has appointed Anthony “Tony” Capuano as the company’s new CEO. Capuano, who also has joined the board effective immediately, previously was group president, global development, design and operations services. The board of directors also announced that Stephanie Linnartz, previously group president, consumer operations, technology and emerging businesses, has been appointed president, effective immediately. The appointments follow the unexpected death of Marriott President and CEO Arne Sorenson on Feb. 15.
In early February, Sorenson and the board tapped Capuano and Linnartz to share the responsibility for overseeing the day-to-day operations of Marriott’s business units and corporate functions while Sorenson focused on his health. Upon his death, Marriott announced that they would continue in those capacities as well as continuing in their own roles until the board named new leadership.
Related: Marriott's Arne Sorenson dies at 62
The New CEO
As group president, global development, design and operations services, Capuano was responsible for leading global development and design efforts and overseeing the company’s global operations discipline. During Capuano’s tenure leading global development, the company grew from just over 3,200 properties in early 2009 to more than 7,600 properties by year-end 2020. In addition, Capuano has overseen the growth and globalization of Marriott’s development pipeline to 498,000 rooms as of Dec. 31, 2020, with more than half of the pipeline representing projects outside of the U.S. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Capuano has led Marriott’s work on its Commitment to Clean initiative.
“Tony has played a critical role in Marriott’s growth over the last decade,” said J.W. “Bill” Marriott Jr., executive chairman and chairman of the board, Marriott International. “He will be a terrific leader as we continue to advance our growth strategy while also navigating the market dynamics of the COVID-19 pandemic. He works thoughtfully and pragmatically with our owner and franchisee community and has been steadfast in ensuring Marriott delivers operational excellence and elevated customer experiences at our properties. Tony has a deep appreciation for Marriott’s thousands of associates who ultimately deliver on our customer and brand promise and I know he will be a superb steward of our culture. Together with Stephanie in the role of president, and the rest of our exceptional leadership team, Marriott could not be in better hands.”
Capuano began his Marriott career in 1995 as part of the market planning and feasibility team. Between 1997 and 2005, he led Marriott’s full-service development efforts in the Western U.S. & Canada. From 2005 to 2008, Capuano served as SVP of full-service development for North America. In 2008, his responsibilities expanded to include all of U.S. & Canada and the Caribbean and Latin America, and he became EVP and global chief development officer in 2009. Capuano began his professional career in Laventhol and Horwath’s Boston-based Leisure Time Advisory Group. He then joined Kenneth Leventhal and Company’s hospitality consulting group in Los Angeles. Capuano earned his bachelor’s degree in hotel administration from Cornell University. He is an active member of the Cornell Hotel Society and a member of The Cornell School of Hotel Administration Dean’s Advisory Board. Capuano is also a member of the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Industry Real Estate Financial Advisory Council.
“This appointment is the honor of a lifetime, but it’s also an incredibly bittersweet moment for me,” Capuano wrote on LinkedIn. “I have this new role because my friend and mentor, Arne Sorenson, lost his courageous battle with pancreatic cancer last week. I still find it hard to believe that he’s gone.”
Capuano also offered praise for the company’s new president: “Stephanie has an innovative vision for how our core lodging business, travel platform initiatives and loyalty strategies can, together, accelerate our growth and I can’t wait to work with her on Marriott’s recovery.”
His first statement as CEO acknowledged the difficulties the company and the industry at large is facing. “The COVID-19 pandemic is the most challenging crisis in the history of the travel industry,” he wrote. “But I know with the Marriott team in place, we will continue the groundbreaking work of our first three CEOs to advance and grow the promise of Marriott International.
“I know I have big shoes to fill. But I’ve also been given some sound advice—don’t try to walk in Arne’s shoes—follow his path but find your own footing. With Stephanie, the leadership team, and Marriott’s global team of associates, I have no doubt I’ll be able to do just that.”
The New President
As president, Linnartz will be responsible for developing and executing all aspects of the company’s global consumer strategy, including brand, marketing, sales, revenue management, customer engagement, digital, information technology, emerging businesses and loyalty strategies. In addition, Linnartz will oversee Marriott’s global development organization, which is responsible for the strategic growth of the company’s 30 lodging brands, as well as the global design and operations services functions. Linnartz will also spearhead the company’s progress on issues including the intersection of technology and hospitality, the continued growth of the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty platform, the brand portfolio and environmental sustainability.
“Stephanie has a leadership track record and clear vision for how our core lodging business, travel platform initiatives and loyalty strategies can work together to accelerate growth,” said Marriott. “Her deep experience across our business will enable her to work seamlessly with our owners and franchisees, innovate for our guests and customers, and champion new opportunities for our associates. Tony and Stephanie are exactly the CEO and president we need as we continue to push forward towards recovery and growth in the years ahead.”
“Every member of the leadership team feels a profound sense of loss at Arne’s passing. He was not just a friend and a leader for us, he was a guidepost for the hospitality industry,” said Linnartz. “The best way we can honor Arne’s memory is to continue to move the company forward. It is my privilege to take on the role of President and to work with Tony and the rest of the executive team to ensure a seamless transition and to successfully execute our strategy.”
As group president, consumer operations, technology and emerging businesses, Linnartz was responsible for brand, marketing, sales, revenue management, customer engagement, digital, information technology, emerging businesses and loyalty strategies. Linnartz played a pivotal role during Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, overseeing the integration of business-critical systems including reservations, property management, revenue management and loyalty. In 2019, under her leadership, the company combined the Marriott and Starwood loyalty programs to create the new Bonvoy program, which currently has more than 147 million global members.
Linnartz, who began her Marriott career in 1997, served as global chief commercial officer from 2013 to 2019; global officer, sales and revenue management from 2009 to 2013; SVP, global sales from 2008 to 2009; SVP, sales and marketing planning and support from 2005 to 2008; and before that, various roles in Marriott’s finance and business development department. She currently serves on the board of directors of The Home Depot. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and government from the College of the Holy Cross, where she is a member of the board of trustees, and earned her master of business administration from the College of William and Mary.