90 Years of Mar­riott’s “Spirit to Serve” Cul­ture

“It’s not the busi­ness you do, but how you do busi­ness,” says Mr. J. W Mar­riott.

Thai-American Business (T-AB) Magazine - - Contents - Writ­ten by: Sean Pan­ton

Ninety years ago our com­pany’s ser­vice phi­los­o­phy was formed with a com­mit­ment to ex­cel­lence en­com­pass­ing a holis­tic ap­proach to ser­vice through our “Spirit to Serve” and “Spirit to Pre­serve” global pro­grams. “Spirit to Serve” is how we as an or­ga­ni­za­tion are com­mit­ted to - and en­gage with - our guests, as­so­ci­ates, and com­mu­nity. “Spirit to Pre­serve” pro­grams are specif­i­cally de­signed to en­hance the way we im­pact the en­vi­ron­ment and the planet.

Cor­po­rate So­cial Re­spon­si­bil­ity ( CSR) as a term has be­come very fashionable in the past few decades as com­pa­nies strug­gle to be­come more sus­tain­able in times of global cli­mate change and po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity. CSR is one strat­egy to pro­mote sus­tain­abil­ity, which is the over­all goal of any con­scious or­ga­ni­za­tion. In fact, Cor­po­rate So­cial Re­spon­si­bil­ity as a strat­egy of Sus­tain­abil­ity is such a broadly de­fined term these days, that my ti­tle has just changed to Di­rec­tor of So­cial Im­pact & Sus­tain­abil­ity, a much more spe­cific and tar­geted ti­tle that I don’t have to ex­plain to ev­ery per­son I meet.

At Mar­riott we have built the com­pany on our com­mit­ment to our as­so­ci­ates, guests, com­mu­nity and en­vi­ron­ment and we have been grow­ing or­gan­i­cally in this way ever since. To us, so­cial im­pact and re­spon­si­ble busi­ness is sim­ply good busi­ness prac­tice, and our chain is con­sid­ered among the lead­ers in the ho­tel in­dus­try. Our re­cent Global Sus­tain­abil­ity Re­port is a trib­ute to the way we op­er­ate and en­gage in con­scious busi­ness all around the globe.


Mar­riott has 92 busi­ness coun­cils around the world. They com­prise our Gen­eral Man­agers who meet four times a year to plan and man­age our Cul­ture, Com­muni- ty En­gage­ment, and Govern­ment ac­tiv­ity pro­grams. Busi­ness Coun­cil pro­grams are de­signed to be rel­e­vant to their coun­try or area and aligned with busi­ness coun­cil core val­ues that are man­aged out of our cor­po­rate of­fice in Wash­ing­ton.

Mar­riott’s Global Busi­ness Coun­cil net­work pro­vides an ex­cel­lent com­mu­nity en­gage­ment re­port­ing sys­tem for all the prop­er­ties and na­tional pro­grams re­port­ing world­wide, re­sult­ing in an ac­cu­rate, easy to man­age com­mu­nity en­gage­ment tool and re­port­ing sys­tem. Our Gen­eral Man­agers are the key mem­bers of our Busi­ness Coun­cils who work ac­tively to pro­mote Mar­riott Cul­ture and “Spirit to Serve” pro­grams and ac­tiv­i­ties.

Ev­ery year our 92 Busi­ness Coun­cil Chair­men meet at Mr. Mar­riott’s house to dis­cuss how they have worked to­gether with their teams to Serve our World and have an awards cer­e­mony cel­e­brat­ing the ef­forts for the best per­form­ers of our global team of Busi­ness Coun­cils.

In 2014 Mar­riott Thai­land Busi­ness Coun­cil won the “Over­all Achieve­ment” and the “Mar­riot Cul­ture” Busi­ness Coun­cil Global Awards from Mr. Mar­riot at the global Busi­ness Coun­cil meet­ing at Mr. Mar­riott’s house.

In 2015 JW Mar­riott Phuket re­ceived the most coveted Mar­riott Award of Ex­cel­lence from Mr. Mar­riott, the “Alice Mar­riott Award for Com­mu­nity En­gage­ment.”


As part of Mar­riott’s con­tin­ued com­mit­ment to ex­cel­lence we de­vel­oped a “shared value/ multi stake­holder/ strate­gic part­ner­ship” ap­proach for our So­cial Im­pact and Sus­tain­abil­ity out­reach port­fo­lio. Since our ex­per­tise lies in run­ning ho­tels, not com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment or en­vi­ron­men­tal ste­ward­ship, we align our­selves with ex­pe­ri­enced part­ners in each area of fo­cus. Among our part­ners must be govern­ment agen­cies in or­der to en­sure cred­i­ble pol­icy sup­port for our ini­tia­tives.

In 2013, the Mar­riott Thai­land Busi­ness Coun­cil be­came the first Mar­riott Busi­ness Coun­cil glob­ally to em­ploy a Di­rec­tor of CSR to help strate­gize CSR ef­forts and max­i­mize im­pacts for Thai­land. Ini­tially the job of the Di­rec­tor of CSR was to re­search, compile, and present the most rel­e­vant CSR en­gage­ment strat­egy to the Mar­riott Thai­land Busi­ness Coun­cil for our Gen­eral Man­agers to vote on. Tra­di­tional fundrais­ing had been geared to­wards mak­ing char­i­ta­ble do­na­tions to or­ga­ni­za­tions, not in­te­grated CSR pro­grams with shared value for all stake­hold­ers. So, we de­cided to de­velop four na­tional level strate­gic part­ner­ship pro­grams to max­i­mize the im­pacts of our joint ef­forts, im­ple­ment­ing one a year un­til our port­fo­lio was com­pleted last month with the open­ing of Yaowawait School and Hos­pi­tal­ity Learn­ing Cen­tre. Each project is aligned with our cor­po­rate global core val­ues and is rel­e­vant and tar­geted specif­i­cally to Thai­land’s needs.


Our first Busi­ness Coun­cil So­cial Im­pact & Sus­tain­abil­ity pro­gram was started 15 years ago when we es­tab­lished the award- win­ning Mai Khao Marine Tur­tle Foun­da­tion. This hap­pened dur­ing the open­ing of the JW Mar­riott Phuket which was built on a beach where tur­tles nest. Our own­ers, the Mi­nor Group and Mar­riott In­ter­na­tional, felt the need to de­velop a long- term en­vi­ron­men­tal strat­egy to en­sure the eco­log­i­cal fu­ture of the Mai Khao tur­tle pop­u­la­tion. Now the Foun­da­tion has grown to the point where they have six dis­abled tur­tles liv­ing per­ma­nently at the JW Mar­riott in a ded­i­cated shel­ter, to­gether with an ed­u­ca­tion cen­ter. The project boasts five govern­ment part­ners plus the In­ter­na­tional Union for Con­ser­va­tion of Na­ture ( IUCN). It has earned a host of in­ter­na­tional awards for its cut­ting- edge con­ser­va­tion work. The Mai Khao Marine Tur­tle Foun­da­tion ed­u­cates over 13,000 guests from more than 96 coun­tries ev­ery year. It also en­gages ten area schools a year and re­leases 150 oneyear- old tur­tles to sup­port the Phuket Marine Bi­o­log­i­cal Cen­ter tur­tle nest­ing strat­egy. Work­ing closely with the Thai­land Busi­ness Coun­cil Chair­man, in Septem­ber 2013 we es­tab­lished Mar­riott’s first Strate­gic Multi- Faceted CSR Plat­form and part­ner­ship with the In­ter­na­tional Union for the Con­ser­va­tion of Na­ture. We signed a long- term mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing ( MOU) with IUCN/ Man­groves for the Fu­ture, tar­get­ing the fol­low­ing ar­eas: Re­for­esta­tion, Com­mu­nity Poverty Al­le­vi­a­tion, and Sus­tain­able Sourc­ing.

Mar­riott re­sort ho­tels are lo­cated in ar­eas of nat­u­ral beauty and need con­stant ste­ward­ship and ac­tive com­mu­nity pro­grams in or­der to have har­mo­nious busi­ness prac­tices. There­fore, hav­ing the IUCN ad­vise us on how to pos­i­tively im­pact our en­vi­ron­ment and com­mu­nity was es­sen­tial in align­ing our busi­ness prac­tices with the United Na­tion’s ( UN) Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals. This project has been hugely suc­cess­ful and is con­sid­ered a bench­mark for pri­vate sec­tor, govern­ment and NGO en­gage­ment. All mea­sur­able re­sults from this project go di­rectly in the Mar­riot global sus­tain­abil­ity re­port.

In Septem­ber 2014 we launched our sec­ond na­tional part­ner­ship by bring­ing the South Korean band Crayon Pop for a free con­cert in Bangkok to launch the “Save the Chil­dren” 7% Hel­met Hero Cam­paign, a multi- stake­holder part­ner­ship fo­cus­ing on in­creas­ing the use of crash hel­mets and road safety ed­u­ca­tion for chil­dren in Thai­land. 2,600 chil­dren die ev­ery year and 75,000 are per­ma­nently in­jured in road ac­ci­dents.

To­gether with our part­ners we tar­get dif­fer­ent en­gage­ment strate­gies: we pro­vide ed­u­ca­tion, and help make hel­mets cool by do­ing art on them with the chil­dren; the po­lice take care of en­force­ment, and schools make hel­mets part of their uni­form ( based on an MOU with 400 schools in Bangkok). So­cial change takes time so we all work to­gether for the longterm goal of a “Safer Thai­land for Chil­dren” aligned with the UN Road Safety 2021 Goals.

Fi­nally, youth em­pow­er­ment, specif­i­cally through ed­u­ca­tion and job train­ing, is a key el­e­ment of our cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity mis­sion. On May 18, Her Royal High­ness Princess Maha Chakri

At Mar­riott we have built the com­pany on our com­mit­ment to our as­so­ci­ates, guests, com­mu­nity and en­vi­ron­ment and we have been grow­ing or­gan­i­cally in this way ever since.

Sirind­horn presided over the open­ing of the Mar­riott Pre- Vo­ca­tional Hos­pi­tal­ity School at the Yaowawit Lodge in Kapong, Thai­land. The Yaowawit School pro­vides 140 or­phaned chil­dren from ru­ral ar­eas of South­ern Thai­land, aged 3- 18, with a home and a holis­tic ed­u­ca­tion.

The Mar­riott Pre- Vo­ca­tional Hos­pi­tal­ity School will of­fer project- based learn­ing, which al­lows Mar­riott man­agers to train chil­dren at the school, and al­lows chil­dren to come to the ho­tel to get hand­son train­ing. This is the first time the Thai ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem has rec­og­nized this as cer­ti­fied train­ing, and this new “Mar­riott model” will be used in 400 vo­ca­tional train­ing schools around Thai­land. In ad­di­tion to hands- on train­ing and ed­u­ca­tion, Mar­riott ho­tels will pay the monthly salary of the hos­pi­tal­ity school man­ager who lives on site at the or­phan­age, pro­vide teach­ing ma­te­ri­als, will cover costs for man­agers to visit and teach ev­ery two weeks, and will cover the cost of chil­dren vis­it­ing the ho­tels and do­ing in­tern­ships. Mar­riott ho­tels also sup­ports the ini­tia­tive by sell­ing the Yaowawit Lemon­grass Spa prod­ucts made from the on- site lemon­grass farm lo­cated at the Yaowawit Agri­cul­ture Acad­emy.


The Mar­riott Thai­land Busi­ness Coun­cil’s vi­sion­ary lead­ers guided the de­vel­op­ment of strate­gic CSR within the Mar­riott In­ter­na­tional cor­po­ra­tion by em­ploy­ing the first na­tion­ally- based CSR Di­rec­tor any­where in the world. This led to Mar­riot Thai­land win­ning the Busi­ness Coun­cil of the Year Award in 2014. In turn, this paved the way for Mar­riott to em­ploy re­gion­ally-based CSR/ So­cial Im­pact lead­ers to be en­gaged in de­vel­op­ing pro­grams to sup­port our new cor­po­rate 2025 So­cial Im­pact and Sus­tain­abil­ity goals. The global So­cial Im­pact and Sus­tain­abil­ity team based in the Wash­ing­ton head­quar­ters have re­cently em­ployed So­cial Im­pact & Sus­tain­abil­ity Direc­tors in Europe, South Amer­ica, and soon Asia. Our So­cial Im­pact and Sus­tain­abil­ity port­fo­lio in Thai­land is now at ca­pac­ity and we will be able to en­joy watch­ing our projects flour­ish in the long term. As we ex­pand our com­mit­ment to these projects in line with our 2025 So­cial Im­pact Goals, we will be able to achieve even more re­sults and be even more im­pact­ful.

Au­then­tic­ity is the most im­por­tant fac­tor to a suc­cess­ful So­cial Im­pact pro­gram. Suc­cess is never fi­nal, es­pe­cially when work­ing with com­mu­ni­ties and the en­vi­ron­ment. How­ever, we re­main pos­i­tive and flex­i­ble while be­ing com­mit­ted and en­gaged in our com­mit­ment to longterm so­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts for Thai­land.

Sean Pan­ton is Co- Chair­man and Di­rec­tor of So­cial Im­pact & Sus­tain­abil­ity at the Mar­riott Thai­land Busi­ness Coun­cil/ JW Mar­riott Phuket Re­sort and Spa. He can be con­tacted at Sean. Pan­ton@ mar­riot­tho­tels.com.

Her Royal High­ness Princess Maha Chakri Sirind­horn ar­rives at the open­ing of the Mar­riott Pre- Vo­ca­tional Hos­pi­tal­ity School at the Yaowawit Lodge in Kapong, Thai­land

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