Affirming trends reported by corporate travel buyers, executive vice president Carl Berquist, who assumes the CFO role on May 1, during Marriott's earnings call yesterday said persistent corporate demand weakness has sparked deterioration in pricing power, noting "significant competitor discounting of room rates for corporate business in many markets."

Though he asserted Marriott would "not lead the market down on rates," Berquist said the company also would not "lose share by failing to respond." He further noted, "Room rates are likely to remain weak until the economy shows meaningful improvement."

Failing to stimulate corporate demand through pricing actions, Berquist said, "We continue to see occupancy declines reflecting weakness" across its corporate portfolio. As such, Marriott is bolstering business from non-corporate segments, including federal government deals, AAA discounts and programs for senior citizens, "to buttress transient occupancy."

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