Q&A: Starwood’s new CEO Thomas Mangas
Q&A: Starwood’s new CEO Thomas Mangas
15 DECEMBER 2015 9:42 AM

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide’s new CEO Thomas Mangas answers questions about how the company will work through the planned merger with Marriott International, the fate of the brands and day-to-day running of the business. 

STAMFORD, Connecticut—Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide named a new CEO Tuesday to lead the company through its planned merger with Marriott International
Thomas Mangas, current EVP and CFO of Starwood, will take the position officially on 31 December, replacing Adam Aron, who has served as CEO on an interim basis for the company since February. Aron is leaving the company at the end of the month to become CEO and president of AMC Entertainment Holdings. 

Mangas spoke with Hotel News Now to outline his goals for the company, which continues to act independent for the time being. 
HNN: What is your role with the company as it goes through this transition process? 
Mangas: “We’re a public company, and the deal is not done. We have a merger agreement (with Marriott), and until the deal closes, we need to act as an independent company, competing and winning in the marketplace. My role is to ensure we continue to drive our hotel operations, delight our guests and continue to win new hotel contracts with owners. At the same time, my role will be to help navigate the transition and consummate the deal with Marriott, likely by mid-summer 2016.” 
HNN: What are your short- and long-term goals for working through the transition? 
Mangas: “There are a few hurdles or conditions to closing that we need to deliver on. We’re focusing on executing our (spinoff of vacation ownership business Vistana Signature Experiences and sale to Interval Leisure Group)—that’s a key action that needs to happen before the deal closes. We also need to message the value-creation process (of the merger) with our shareholders; that’s something both we and Marriott face. We need to be evangelizing the deal and securing the shareholder vote. We also need to be supporting the regulatory process. 
“Long-term, I want to make sure the very best capabilities of Starwood—like Starwood Preferred Guest and all of our talent—successfully integrate into the new company. That’s a significant responsibility.” 
HNN: The fate of SPG has created significant buzz among guests and owners. Can you share your priorities for SPG as you work through the planned merger? 
Mangas: “The SPG member base has been very vocal in the blogosphere and other platforms on how much they value SPG and how great a program it is for them. As I meet with investors … I’m making sure we’re preserving the very best elements and value that our SPG loyalists value. It’s a critical step for the new company to incorporate.” 
HNN: How about the brands? There’s a lot of speculation over whether all of both companies’ brands will survive the planned merger. 
Mangas: “(Marriott CEO and President) Arne Sorenson has been pretty public about the fact that (the new company would) have 30 brands, and that the brands would largely survive intact, with the brand positionings even sharper. I think that’s largely the expectation. We’re pushing forward at Starwood on new development contracts against all of our brands. We think they have tremendous value, including the new brands we’ve launched, like our Tribute Portfolio. It’s going to be Arne and the new company that will decide how best to weave the two brand families together, but it’s highly likely the vast majority will survive intact.” 
HNN: What do you think the toughest part of the merger process will be? 
Mangas: “I think the toughest is the uncertainty that comes to everyone in the organization in this period between signing and closing the deal, and it comes down to the company’s ability to communicate expectations for the future. Making sure we communicate openly and transparently is the toughest step. We have hundreds of thousands of associates (around the world) that may be uncertain, and we want to make sure we can make them feel confident about their future during this process.” 
HNN: In the meantime, what are your plans for running the day-to-day operations of Starwood? 
Mangas: “We want to accelerate our rooms growth. That’s something we did not deliver on similar to our peers in 2014; we made a lot of progress on that in 2015 and we will continue. Second, we’ve had a pretty tough year when it came to fee growth, between foreign-exchange headwinds and so on, so I want to accelerate our fee growth in 2016 and really demonstrate the earning power and strength of our global portfolio. We also want to be winning in the marketplace, delighting our guests. Strengthening the guest experience will only strengthen our brands.” 
HNN: Where do you see the company 100 days from now? 
Mangas: “We’ll be finishing out the first quarter of 2016. I expect we’ll be delivering above industry levels of revenue-per-available-room growth, as we’ve been doing in 2015. We’ll be reporting fee growth equal to or better than our peers on a worldwide basis. I think the organization’s health will be strong. I hope we’ll have retained our organization and will be down the path of integration planning and communicating to (our associates) in a way that makes them comfortable.” 

1 Comment

  • Darren December 16, 2015 5:37 AM

    It is incredibly naive of Mr. Mangas to expect significant (if any) growth in 2016, as the horrific reputation & value proposition of Marriott Rewards is scaring every educated SPG member (especially SPG100's like myself) because at the end of the day talk is cheap and with Marriott in charge there is little to stop them from significantly de-valuing or completely destroying SPG. Members like myself that travel extensively in the first half of the year to maintain status are now booking other brands (thank you Hyatt for the status match If Starwood were in charge it would be a completely different story, but with the bean counters at Marriott calling the shots, the experience focused company that Starwood currently is will almost certainly be decimated when merged with the stale behemoth that Marriott has always been.

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