16 March 2009 | Jake Kanter
US hotel group Marriott has spent $1.9 billion (£1.3 billion) with minority suppliers over the past five years.
This is almost double the $1 billion commitment it made in 2003. Last year alone it spent $500 million (£361 million) on these vendors. The record amount represented about 14 per cent of Marriott's $3.4 billion (£2.4 billion) annual third-party spend. The company hopes to increase this figure to 15 per cent in the next year.
Bill Hartwig, vice president supplier relations, told SM demand from guests was one of the key reasons the business wanted to up its minority supplier spend.
"We continue to be challenged by our customers; they like to see us working with minority suppliers."
Hartwig said the diversity also brought savings and innovation to the group.The company's target of spending $1 billion with minority vendors sparked competition between various departments - such as IT and construction - to improve their diversity efforts.
"What gets measured in Marriott, gets attention," Hartwig said. Diverse and women-owned food and construction vendors were among those to have secured contracts with the hotel giant.Last year the firm held its first minority supplier awards, at which seafood distributor Gary's Seafood clinched top prize.