An Interview with Lisa Lane, General Manager of Marriott GRS & CC
By Joel Wood and Paul Troia, Creighton University MBA students
Marriott Global Reservation Sales & Customer Care (GRS & CC) is located in Omaha and they handle voice reservations and guest relations for Marriott Worldwide. GRS & CC has been in Omaha for 38 years and they employ 1200 people at their location. The staff at GRS & CC has responsibility for Marriott’s phone reservations including all English calls worldwide, answering customer emails, handling letters to Mr. Marriott, national group sales, and photography for Marriott’s website. GRS & CC has employees working around the clock; they operate 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Of the 1200 employees at GRS & CC, 150 of their employees work from the home.
When asked to describe her role as general manager for GRS & CC, Lane immediately said her most important role is to take care of her associates; to make sure they feel treated with respect and fairness. As Lane explained, the associates are constantly interacting with customers on a daily basis, so they are especially critical to GRS & CC’s success. Lane talked often about the guarantee of fair treatment that GRS & CC promises all of their associates. All employees have the ability to take any problems to their supervisor to get a resolution, and can take their problems all the way to her if they feel they have not gotten fair treatment. Lane emphasized how important this guarantee of fair treatment was to their workplace, and she is always encouraging people to speak up with issues. Lane told us that if associates tell their friends and co-workers about problems they will get sympathy, but if they tell their boss they can actually do something about it. Associates at GRS & CC take an annual survey about leadership at the company and their relationship with their supervisor. While that survey is important, Lane is always encouraging her employees to not wait for the survey to express problems, always encouraging employees to speak up immediately when they have issues. Lane is proud of the environment at GRS & CC, and making sure it stays a respectful and fair workplace is one of her key roles.
Ethics is an important part of the employee training at GRS &CC. All associates go through ethics training as part of their orientation. The ethics training consists of a DVD outlining the ethical policies at GRS & CC. Employees also have to sign a corporate ethics policy yearly, to reaffirm their commitment to the company’s ethical policies. Employees also have an anonymous 800 number they can use at any time to report any ethical issues or concerns. Lane herself also is required to complete ethics reports for Marriott Corporation on an annual basis.
Lane talked about how important ethics is to GRS & CC, referring to a quote by Mr. Marriott saying, “How we do business is as important as the business we do.” That quote is one that is known throughout the company, and was also brought up by other employees we briefly spoke with. Lane sees ethical behavior as absolutely crucial for everyone at GRS & CC, and she told us that she saw no “wiggle room” when it comes to expecting associates to act ethically with both co-workers and customers. As Lane sees it, Marriott is in the hospitality business, and dealing with people in a fair and ethical way is the only way to guarantee overall success of the business.
Lane is very proud of all the awards that GRS & CC has received, both for outstanding performance and several community involvement and ethics awards like the BBB Integrity award. When asked which meant the most to her, she said that awards like the BBB Integrity award mean the most to her personally. Lane is very proud of the commitment that her associates have to the Omaha community. When asked why they won the BBB Integrity award, she felt that it was a testament to all of the people at GRS & CC and their commitment to do more than just run a successful business, but to do it while also being involved with the Omaha community. Lane believes that her employees really buy into Marriott’s core values with a strong spirit to serve their associates, guests, and community. Lane believes that a company can be both profitable and also have a strong sense of ethics and community service. Lane sees Marriott as a perfect example of a successful business that can be both profitable and committed to community service. The two traits are not mutually exclusive in Lane’s mind, Marriott has been one of the leaders in the hotel business for over 80 years, and part of that success is because of their commitment to the communities they do business in.
Lane also sees the ethical reputation of her company as very important to their success, and something everyone needs to be constantly aware of. More and more in today’s business environment, the ethical reputation of companies is a concern. People are aware of a company’s ethical culture, and it factors into people’s decisions on where to work and whom they do business with. Lane sees the ethical and respectful culture at GRS & CC is a big reason why employees chose to work there, and why many employees have so many years of service at her company. GRS & CC works hard to ensure an ethical reputation that reflects well on them but also reflects well on all of Marriott Worldwide. In the future, Lane thinks ethical reputation of companies will become more than a selling point, it will be critical to survive.