eTN Executive Talk: How I learned to pay attention to the details


It’s no secret that I’m known as a stickler for detail. I try very hard to visit almost 300 hotels a year and give them my own version of the “white glove test” to look and see how things are going, to make sure they’re as good for our guests as we can make them and that our guests have the best possible experience when they stay with us.

I guess one of the reasons I began paying such attention to detail was due to an experience I had when I was in college, working at one of my father’s Hot Shoppes that he had opened out in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was working back in the kitchen on an afternoon after school and was assigned the task of cleaning out the deep fat fryers. I accidentally poured soapy water, instead of oil, into the top of the fryer. There was still a small amount of hot oil in the fryer and it mixed with the soap, which overflowed the fryer onto the countertop, the kitchen floor and me.

What a mess! It took me an hour to clean it up. I felt really stupid and my coworkers let me know that they agreed with me. I quickly learned that if I had been paying more attention to what I was doing and what I was pouring into the fryer, that whole mess never would’ve happened.

From then on, I’ve tried hard to pay attention to the little things. I’ve tried very hard to lead by example for our Marriott associates to follow. Like me, they’ve all learned that creating wonderful experiences for our guests is all in the details. I’m grateful to them for providing this terrific service consistently day in and day out.

I’m Bill Marriott and thanks for helping me keep Marriott on the move.

(Bill Marriott is the chairman & CEO of Marriott International.)