He told Bloomberg Television’s Leadership Live broadcast on Monday (April 20) no one knows when the lodging industry will rebound from impacts of COVID-19.
But one thing is clear, he said. Marriott is devising new ways to keep guests and hotel workers safe, including improved cleaning, hotel employees wearing masks, and social distancing measures.
“I’m hopeful those things aren’t permanent, but instead are about communicating through the operating tools that you can be safe in our hotels, whether you work there or are staying there,” Sorenson told Bloomberg.
Like other hotel chains, the world’s largest hospitality company reported hotel revenues declined 60 percent in March and it’s expected to get worse.
Marriott has closed about one quarter of its 7,300 hotels worldwide. Of that number, 1,000 are in the U.S. The Maryland-based hotel giant has approximately 1.4 million rooms and employs about 130,000 workers in the U.S. alone.
One month ago, Marriott began laying off much of its workforce as its losses totaled $1.4 billion weekly due to the coronavirus.
In a video address last month to Marriott employees, Sorenson choked back tears as he said Marriott’s 92-year history has never seen anything like this. He said the pandemic has hurt the hotel chain more than 9/11 and the Great Recession combined.
As he spoke to employees, many of whom would be furloughed, he pledged not to take any salary for the rest of the year, and his executive team will take a temporary 50 percent pay cut.
“There’s never been anything like this,” he said.
In a recent interview with Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal, Sorenson said the impact of COVID-19 to people’s lives will be profound.
“We’ve got to find a way to get through this together,” he said. “We will, ultimately.”