Guest Editorial, July 20-22, 2011 |

Guest Editorial, July 20-22, 2011

Doug Braumberger, Park City

(This is an open letter to JW "Bill" Marriott, chairman & CEO of Marriott International)

Dear Bill,

I don’t doubt the sincerity of the following quotes. I’m sure you believe and live by every tenet identified in the Marriott’s Business Conduct Guide. Unfortunately it appears that the Marriott Summit Watch located at Summit Watch Plaza in Park City has not read or does not subscribe to the philosophy of the Marriott’s Business Conduct Guide.

"Our business relies on integrity and good judgment." — JW Marriott Jr., Marriott Business Conduct Guide

The decision by the Marriott Summit Watch to schedule construction activities for the month of July will have a profound negative impact on three small community businesses that rely heavily on the income generated during the peak summer season. To perform the construction now is not a sound decision. Nor is it in keeping with the aforementioned philosophies. The latter part of May, all of June or September, and early October (the shoulder seasons) are available to conduct that work. Why now? With the construction industry suffering from the slow economy, there are plenty of contractors that would accomplish the work during the slower months. As for the guests that book accommodations at the Marriott Summit Watch during the construction activities, were they informed of this prior to booking or did they find out after they checked in? Is it good customer service to inconvenience your guests with the disruption associated with the construction activities?

"Since the very beginning, a fundamental commitment to hard work, fair business practices, and respect for others has shaped our everyday decision making and has guided our relationships with all of our stakeholders-associates, owners, business partners, franchisees, customers, and the communities in which we work." — JW Marriott Jr., Marriott Business Conduct Guide

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This statement is interesting as it discusses fair business practices and respect for others as a guide for building relationships with a variety of individuals and groups, including business partners and the community at large. So, Bill, I am curious if the Marriott Summit Watch personnel approached and engaged the three business owners in a discussion on the plans for construction? Did they solicit those businesses’ input as to how the construction might impact each of them and explore possible options that might be available to mitigate those impacts? Again I’m guessing not. In fact I’m guessing that other small community businesses adjacent to the Summit Watch Plaza are also feeling the impacts of the construction activities. Can you imagine getting a massage at Mountain Body Spa and having the zen-like sounds of the jack hammers pounding away – relaxing, I’m sure!

"Our commitment to being a responsible corporate citizen has not changed since 1927." — JW Marriott Jr., Marriott Business Conduct Guide

Further, Bill, I have a feeling that the corporate citizenship demonstrated by the Marriott Summit Watch towards these community businesses is not what your father embraced in 1928. Am I correct?

"Marriott has a social responsibility to serve the greater community." — Marriott Business Conduct Guide

How does creating financial hardship for community-based businesses and their employees serve the greater community? Shouldn’t the Marriott be a community leader and set the example for how large corporations should treat their neighbors? I hope the answer is yes, but I also hope you don’t use the Marriott Summit Watch as the model. Running roughshod over those small, community businesses is no different from a bully beating up the smaller kids in school — not cool!

Those three small community businesses I’m speaking of are the Coda Gallery, the Prime Steak House and the Buona Vita restaurant. When you get a minute I recommend you stop by and speak to the owners and patrons of those businesses and see how they feel about what is happening to them. Set the right tone and lead by example. Show the Marriott Summit Watch how a real corporate citizen engages with the community. After all, that is a core value in your Business Conduct Guide.