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Marriott CEO discusses how Trump's win could affect the travel industry

Brittany Jones-Cooper

During an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International, discussed the state of travel in 2017 as Donald Trump becomes the president of the United States.

There are a handful of things that could stir the pot, including the threat of global terrorism and the growth of the middle class around the world. But Sorenson highlighted the desire of some Americans – most notably reflected by Trump’s election victory – to close off borders is one that requires his attention.

“We had more than 75 million visitors from abroad to the US last year. That supported, we think, 2.5 million jobs. If you see all of that business disappear overnight that would be detrimental to our business, to our industry and to the economy as well,” he said.

To keep that from happening, Sorenson is willing to venture into political territory. “That’s the place where we will try to engage with the new Trump administration and make sure our voice is heard as an industry and for the economy.”

Last September, Marriott International (MAR) acquired Starwood Hotels, forming the largest hotel company in the world. Nearly four months later, Marriott says there’s still a lot of work to be done.

Sorenson told Yahoo Finance that the company’s first priority was to make sure the transition went smoothly for customers. “On the day we closed, we allowed SPG [Starwood Preferred Guest program] Members and Marriott Rewards members to link accounts, match status and transfer points from one program to the other,” he said. “That was very well received by customers.”

According to Sorenson, that was just the tip of the iceberg, with the company now aiming to make each program work even better. “I think we still have a lot of work to do to get to either one program or great alignment between the two programs as we go forward,” he said. (The Marriott Rewards and SPG loyalty programs have about 85 million members combined.)

Brittany is a writer at Yahoo Finance.


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