Bill Marriott discusses new Chicago property, adult content, social media

CHICAGO Prior to a celebration Monday evening marking the opening of Chicago’s first JW Marriott property, Marriott International Chairman and CEO Bill Marriott sat down with various media members to answer questions on a range of topics.

On JW Marriott Chicago, the 50th hotel in the brand’s portfolio and noteworthy for its location in legendary architect Daniel Burnham’s Continental and Commercial Bank building, Marriott said, “This stands alone as just superb. My dad (after whom the JW Marriott brand is named), who was so dedicated to quality, would have been thrilled to see this hotel. To me, it’s just perfection.”

Adult content

On Marriott International’s decision to ban adult content at all its hotels by 2013, Marriott commented, “I’m glad we made the decision we made. Owners have been applauding what we have done. [Adult content] is not as big of a revenue source for owners as it used to be. This is the right thing to do, and the right time to do it.”

Group business, summer bookings

Asked about his expectations for summer bookings, Marriott noted that group business has been improving lately. He added that the impact of rising gas prices on leisure travel will remain to be seen, but said many businesses want to get out to make sales calls again, and that consulting companies and technology companies in particular have been ramping up travel.

Social media

In response to a question about the power of online marketing and social media tools, Marriott referenced the success of his blog, which he started several years ago. He noted that recently he has blogged a lot about uprisings in the Middle East, explaining, “We have gotten really good response that we’re on the ground in troubled areas. That kind of thing helps us build a good reputation around the world. It’s a great way to impart our values to customers and show what we believe as a company.”