Amy McPherson, Marriott International executive vice president of sales & marketing and a 20-year veteran of the chain, this month sat down with Business Travel News senior editor Jay Boehmer to discuss the current climate for corporate hotel buyers, advancements in electronic hotel folio use and the ongoing demand market in the U.S. hotel industry.

BTN: You mentioned last year that Marriott would look to limit corporate inventory. Have corporate contracts in the past year comprised a smaller piece of the Marriott pie?

Amy McPherson: Going into this year, the mix is shifting. We wanted to be more strategic and selective about that, but absolute corporate volume we expect to go down, especially since it's last-room availability. Given the demand environments, we wanted to make sure about whom we kept—not only to receive good rates but also so that we were strong partners with them. The people who were with us in the downtimes, we want to take care of in demand times too, and keep their volume in our hotels, but there has been a shift and we expect to continue to see a shift. Salespeople are saying that we have to take care of our best customers, and we're going to do that while being strategic and selective. But the revenue people are saying that we have strong demand, and we want to be sure that we're maximizing our rates. There's definitely a balance. In terms of a percentage of business shifting, it's hard to see the aggregate. Every market is different and every hotel is different. Demand even within a market can be different if you're in Midtown versus Downtown in New York.

BTN: Do you have to prove to revenue people that in the long term it's better to hang on to key accounts, as opposed to taking full advantage of the market upswing?

McPherson: That's the whole value base. You have to look at partnerships in terms of value. If you're looking at value, you don't just look at short-term, and you don't just look at volume, because the biggest isn't necessarily the most valuable. It's more about travel patterns and when they come to stay in hotels, whether they're coming in need times. We look at it in terms of that incremental business.

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