Don Cleary on Marriott’s pandemic response

Don Cleary, president, Marriott Hotels of Canada.

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — As a global company Marriott continuously monitors situations around the world. Canada is a popular and welcoming destination and as soon as flights and hotels across the globe fell to record lows, we knew this would have a major impact. 

“Marriott immediately began monitoring the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization’s statements and followed guidelines from these agencies and the local health departments,” said Don Cleary, president, Marriott Hotels of Canada. “They reinforced our cleaning protocols for the wellbeing of our guests and associates, and implemented a flexible cancellation policy.”

Marriott has 7,300 hotels in 134 countries and territories with 30 brands.  Currently, roughly a quarter of their worldwide hotels are closed. A similar ratio applies here in Canada, where 68 of Marriott’s 250 hotels are closed. The occupancies of Marriott’s hotels vary based upon need in the current environment.

“As part of our support for the communities in which we operate, we launched the Community Caregiver Program,” Cleary told CLN. This program is available in Canada, as well as the United States and the Caribbean and Latin America which provides significantly discounted rates for first responders and healthcare professionals who want to book rooms at hotels in close proximity to the hospitals where they are working.

Marriott’s corporate offices in both Toronto (Mississauga) and Bethesda, Md., are closed with associates working remotely based on local guidelines.

As a leader, Cleary’s priorities are first and foremost, the wellbeing of people. “That is always my priority – never more important than now,” he said. “I continue to educate myself on the changing policies and the local regulations in the provinces throughout Canada so we can best communicate with our owners, associates and guests.

“In Canada I am in constant phone, email and video contact with all of those stakeholder groups, as is my executive team. Communication is essential at a time like this.

“Marriott overall has been in regular communication with owners, operators, associates and guests. Our CEO has shared regular updates, and executive chairman and chairman of the board, Bill Marriott, was featured in a recent video message,” Cleary added. https://news.marriott.com/news/2020/05/06/an-update-from-our-ceo-marriotts-commitment-to-cleanliness.

Rigorous cleaning procedures are nothing new for Marriott. For 93 years, Marriott International has been recognized as a hospitality leader for its commitment to quality, exacting standards, and rigorous training, Cleary noted.  Marriott is rolling out a multi-pronged platform to elevate its cleanliness standards and hospitality norms and behaviors to meet the new health and safety challenges. The Marriott Global Cleanliness Council has been created to advance the company’s efforts in this area gaining knowledge and input from both in-house and outside experts. Changes will be found throughout public spaces, guestrooms, restaurants, and fitness centers.  Marriott is rolling out enhanced technologies over the next few months, including electrostatic sprayers with hospital-grade disinfectant to sanitize surfaces throughout the hotel.  The company is also testing ultraviolet light technology for sanitizing keys for guests and devices shared by associates. 

“Moving forward cleanliness will continue to be a priority for guests,” said Cleary. “We are deploying new technologies like electrostatic sprayers, changing the layout in public spaces to enable social distancing, and elevating the company’s already rigorous cleaning protocols throughout hotels.”

Marriott’s Canadian properties are giving back to the communities in which they are located. “Many of our properties globally have contributed by providing food, pre-packed and cooked meals to crisis relief efforts and much-needed supplies like cleaning products, masks, gloves, anti-microbial wipes, sanitizers and shower caps for medical and other frontline workers.  Also, in a beautiful sign of solidarity among us all, many of our teams have illuminated their hotel windows with symbols of love and messages of hope.”

Messages of hope from Marriott’s properties in Niagara Falls, Ont.

Thoughts on the reopening

“[The reopening] all starts with assurance to the travelling public that their health and safety is our biggest priority. More broadly, it is up to the travel industry to support the Tourism Industry Association of Canada’s, Tourism Recovery Measures. One in 11 jobs in Canada are dependent on the visitor economy and Canada cannot afford to lose the tourism industry,” Cleary said.

“As hotels re-open, we will do what we always do when we open properties — we will tell all of our guests and Marriott Bonvoy members how much we look forward to welcoming them back. We have firm protocols in place to open hotels and solid operating procedures around cleanliness and social distancing. I remain optimistic and believe we will travel again. As soon as the time is right, there will be keen interest by Canadians to travel around Canada. Either for a getaway and change of scenery, or to reconnect with families and friends they have missed.”

Marriott will be rolling out new cleaning technologies such as electrostatic precipitators.