Marriott is now on the defensive about its Starwood acquisition, heralding the benefit of choice. That notion rings hollow amid the current economic setting. Shareholders seem to agree; the stock price continues to languish. Corporate travel departments after all are charged with compressing travel costs, not expanding room-selection alternatives. In our view, the best news coming out of the just-closed deal is that it provides unexpected opportunities for smaller hotel-management firms to bolster their line-up in markets where Marriott-Starwood is overextended. Operating agreements are seldom cast in stone. And most property owners can be easily persuaded to change their brand affinity. One sidelight: some tech companies may see a windfall as this awkward hotel-room stockpile tries to sort out its potential. ■
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