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Marriott Says Business Needs to ‘Step Up’ Now that Washington has Stepped Out

Marriott International is the largest hotel company in the world. And a large part of its business is attracting major conferences and conventions in the cities where it operates. But to do that, it must be able to show its potential clientele that is sustainable.

The hotels it controls are either franchised or operated by Marriott International. But to fly its flag, the company is committed to reducing its environmental footprint, properly sourcing the goods that it uses within its properties and valuing human rights, according to Denise Naguid, vice president of sustainability at Marriott International. 

To that end, she told the Environmental Leader conference that the company embeds climate into its goals and looks foremost at science-based targets. She said that the chain at the moment does not price carbon but that this is now “in the conversation,” as many of its customers set carbon pricing.

It’s outlook and approach on climate change is manifesting itself on the bottom line there. For example, major conferences may send out a “request for proposal” that seek to know exactly the tack they use to address climate change and water shortages. If a particular hotel is unable to account for such things, they will get passed over.

“Customers will tell us they didn’t pick us because they didn’t have visibility into our standards,” she said. “There is high risk if we don’t do certain things. We would lose certain business.”

How will the change in presidential administration affect the company’s environmental approach? Marriott is a global company that operates in 122 countries. “121 of them are still in the same direction,” Naguid says.

“Our constituencies have not changed,” she adds. “Our guests still have expectations and they will not make a change because of the situation in Washington. There is a heightened focus on this and business needs to step in and step up. We are right there with our peers and competitors. Our hospitality industry is working on sustainability goals and it is not changing our approach. It is disheartening but not directly impacting us.” 

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