Marriott CEO Issues a Message on Coronavirus

Marriott International’s CEO and President, Arne Sorenson, today posted a personal message regarding the brand’s prioritization of its guests above all and its readiness to combat the potential spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

“We recognize that these are unsettling times and, whether you are traveling now or in the future, we want you to know that your safety and wellbeing are our first priority,” he wrote. “For more than 90 years, Marriott has lived by a core value established by our founder, JW Marriott, Sr., to ‘take care of our guests and associates.’ This enduring value guides us as we face the difficult challenge of responding to the coronavirus (COVID-19).”

Issued as much to provide concrete, pertinent information and to instill consumer confidence in a social climate that’s creeping towards hysteria, Sorenson’s statement addresses potential concerns that might arise when booking, preparing for or conducting a Marriott hotel stay.

“Today, we are updating our policy to provide our customers the most flexibility we can offer during these challenging times,” Sorenson said.

Guests with existing reservations, including those with pre-paid rates that are usually more restrictive, will be allowed to cancel or change their booking without penalty up to 24 hours prior to check-in, so long as it’s done by April 30, 2020. Guests making new individual reservations now through April 30 may also be changed or canceled at no charge up to 24 hours prior to their scheduled arrival date.

He affirms that prior to guests’ arrival and throughout their stays, the company is implementing the latest guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and government and local health agencies at its destinations, and staying abreast of all new developments related to COVID-19 to inform protocols at its properties.

“Daily, our hotels around the world are working to ensure that they meet the latest guidance from the CDC and WHO on hygiene and cleaning. Our hotels’ health and safety measures are designed to address a broad spectrum of viruses, including COVID-19, and cover everything from handwashing hygiene and cleaning product specifications to guest room and common area cleaning procedures. Specific steps we are taking as a company can be found on our website,” his statement reads.

Addressing Marriott’s Bonvoy loyalty program members specifically, Sorenson’s message also sought to alleviate worries over a potential loss of rewards due to the coronavirus situation. To provide members with greater flexibility, he noted, Marriott is pausing Bonvoy points’ expiration through August 31, 2020, to give earners ample time to redeem their rewards. Suite Night Awards (SNAs) having an expiration date of December 31, 2020, have also been extended by one year to December 31, 2021. Members who have an active Free Night Award (FNA) expiring in 2020 as part of their credit card benefit, annual choice benefit, promotions or travel package will also be able to use it through January 31, 2021, he said.

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