At the 44th Annual NYU International Hospitality Investment Conference, Marriott International (Nasdaq:MAR) announced the launch of “Marriott’s Bridging The Gap,” a multi-year, $50 million development program that aims to address the barriers to entry that historically underrepresented groups face in owning and developing hotels in the United States and Canada. Recognizing that access to capital constitutes a critical barrier to market entry, Marriott will offer financial and other incentives to qualified historically underrepresented owners and franchisees that will have a controlling equity interest in select branded projects. The incentives will apply to new franchise applications submitted after June 1, 2022. Over three years, qualifying development projects built or converted under Marriott’s Bridging The Gap are expected to reach $1 billion in total asset value for historically underrepresented ownership groups.
“At the heart of what we do every day is welcome all,” said Anthony Capuano, CEO, Marriott International. “Whether that’s people who stay with us, work in our hotels, meet our supply needs or develop hotels that fly one of our brand flags – all are welcome. With the establishment of Marriott’s Bridging The Gap, we are creating an on-ramp to help propel historically underrepresented groups in the journey to hotel ownership more frequently and more successfully. We are excited to launch Marriott’s Bridging The Gap and to continue building a more diverse owner and franchisee community.”
In developing the program, Marriott tapped into the company’s development and franchising teams as well as current and potential hotel owners and franchisees. In addition to providing access to valuable capital, Marriott plans to utilize its extensive relationships with seasoned hotel developers, operators and lenders to assist and support eligible owners’ hotel projects.
“As an investor in hotel projects and long-time advocate for creating more diversity, equity and inclusion within the hotel ownership community, I appreciated the advice Marriott sought from me and other industry experts in creating Marriott’s Bridging The Gap, which I hope others will emulate,” said Tracy Prigmore, Founder, She Has A Deal. “Providing access to capital is a big step in knocking down the highest barrier to entry underrepresented groups face when attempting to build or acquire a hotel.”
The announcement of Marriott’s Bridging The Gap program is a significant step in Marriott’s longstanding effort to increase the ranks of diverse owners and franchisees. The company is a founding sponsor of the National Association of Black Hotel Owners, Operators and Developers (NABHOOD), She Has a Deal (SHaD) and the Latino Hotel Association. Through its engagement with these organizations as well as the National Black MBA Association, Marriott has conducted outreach and educational seminars on the path to hotel ownership. In addition, Marriott regularly hosts a Diverse Owner Summit at its headquarters to identify and recruit investors with interest in hotel ownership.
“A hotel is an economic engine for a community,” noted Stephanie Linnartz, President, Marriott International. “We believe our guests, our associates, our hotels and the communities we serve will benefit from the full participation of underrepresented groups in this extraordinary industry. Marriott’s Bridging The Gap program directly addresses some of the most critical barriers to entry, with a comprehensive approach designed to enable historically underrepresented groups to enter our ownership ranks or to expand their current holdings.”
Marriott’s Bridging The Gap exemplifies the company’s aspirations under its LoveTravels platform established in 2014. LoveTravels incorporates and expresses the company’s efforts to address barriers experienced by diverse communities, as well as make global communities better places to live, work, and visit. Through inclusion, equality and creating positive and sustainable impact, LoveTravels welcomes everyone to join the conversation for change.