A 71-year-old friend phoned me the other day, opening the conversation with the salvo, “What is it that I don’t understand about blogging.” Instead of saying simply, “Everything,” I told him that I believe blogging is a crucial communications channel in these early years of the 21st century. I told him that when Microsoft was releasing a new XBox, Bill Gates gave just one, lengthy personal interview — not the the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal or Forbes but to a prominent and influential videogame blogger. I told him that there are 50 or 60 million blogs worldwide. And if I had that conversation with him today instead of earlier in the week, I would have added that J. Willard “Bill” Marriott, Jr., who turns 75 later this month, has become a blogger.
Bill Marriott, the chairman and CEO of the hotel chain that his father founded and that bears his family name (as well as other hotel brands), has started a blog called Marriott on the Move. Instead of being an ivory-tower executive, or executive emeritus, Mr. Marriott — as employees refer to him — still roams the world checking on existing hotels and construction of new ones, appearing at hotel openings and travel industry concentions and more.
One person who works in the corporate office told me that Mr. Marriott’s first stop is always the hotel’s kitchen. His father, the late Bill Sr., started in the hospitality business with A&W root beer stands and did the same thing. Bill Jr., she said, insists that his hotel managers know the staff, especially the kitchen staff, by name. With more than 2,800 lodging properties in 67 countries, that means a lot of managers must know a lot of names when the chairman shows up.
Mr. Marriott has blogged about global warming, his company’s hotels’ recycling and other environment efforts, the chain’s training programs, smoke-free hotels, global travel, terrorism (a Marriott in Islamabad was the target of a suicide bomber late in January), memories of working for and answering to his father, the value of education and a bit about his own travels. These blog postings — whether actually directly written by him or written on his behalf based on someone’s interviews or conversations with him — provide interesting insights into the hotel industry for anyone who travels.