Family-run hotel giant Marriott International has named Arne Sorenson as its next president and CEO according to US media reports. It is the first time the Bethesda, Maryland-based company has turned to non-family management.
The move is part of a wider initiative by CEO Bill Marriott (pictured), son of the company's founder, who is introducing modernisation and cost cutting initiatives to adapt to the more difficult economic climate.
"Times are changing," the 77-year-old told Fortune magazine. "This is the mother of all recessions in my lifetime." Of Sorenson, Marriott said: "He's young, he's bright, he understands the finance side of the business very well and he accepts the role of the family."
There is no set date for Sorenson to take over. None of Marriott's four children are positioned to take the head job at the company, but his oldest son, John Marriott III is vice chairman.
Marriott has been hit by the decrease in travel caused by the economic crisis coupled with an increase in the number of low-cost hotels. In order to remain a market leader the company says it is aggressively cutting costs while attempting to retain the worker friendly culture it prides itself on.
The Marriott brand was started in 1927 by Bill's parents J Willard and his wife Alice, although they did not open their first hotel until 1957. The company has annual revenues of $12 billion and the family owns 25% of the company's shares.