BILL TIEFEL:

HOTELIER OF THE YEAR


Last year, the 60,000 readers of Hotels, the official journal of the International Hotel Association, once again selected a Spartan as "1996 Corporate Hotelier Of The World." William R. Tiefel, '56, president of Marriott Lodging, Bethesda, MD, has spent 35 years with the company and was instrumental in its growth from four hotels in 1961 to more than 1,200 today. Fellow Spartan Robert Burns, '58 (see Spring 1984, p. 9), president of Regent International Hotels, Hong Kong, won this prestigious honor in 1987. Bill Marriott, chairman and president of Marriott International, calls Tiefel "a visionary who is not afraid of change, and who is anxious to see things done better tomorrow than they are today." That sums up Tiefel's meteoric rise since joining Marriott in 1961--to regional vice president in 1971, to executive vice president in 1983, to president of Marriott Hotels, Resorts and Suites in 1989, and to president of Marriott Lodging in 1995. That's the company's largest component, with $8 billion in global annual sales and some 200,000 employees. "We're on target to having 2,000 hotels by the end of the millenium," says Bill. "Our goal is not to be the biggest, but to have the best distribution." In 1996 another 270 new units were approved. "They'll open within the next 12 to 24 months," says Bill with pride. "We're in 31 countries now." Bill says he really enjoyed his education at MSU, where "I learned a lot and I knew my professors." In fact, one professor, who happened to be his landlord, helped him land his first job at the Commodore Perry Hotel in Toledo. "The rest," he notes, "is history." His tremendous success with Marriott brings new challenges, he says. "One is to maintain consistency and quality," he notes. "Success is a journey, not a destination. Every day we have to get up and keep going at it."