Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the Travel+Leisure Global Bazaar in Manhattan. This high-energy event offered authentic tastes and cultural experiences of destinations around the globe. Marriott recreated the visual and culinary energy of their world-wide presence on the event floor.
The extremely popular brand is transforming its image to reflect the changing marketplace. They’ve brought back the proverbial “great room” concept by redesigning their lobbies with a contemporary feel. The public spaces feature casual seating much like you’d want in your own family room, and high-tech amenities that speak to the overall re-imaging and brand metamorphosis.
I asked Paul Cahill, Senior Vice President, Brand, Marriott Hotels & Resorts, to describe their vision. “The great room is really more about the way people are living, working and blending, than it is about having a new lobby,” said Cahill. “If you think about it like automakers, it’s a better knob on the radio. It’s not a CD player. It’s not a DVD. It’s not a Bluetooth to my device, which are big changes. That’s basically what we’re trying to do in the whole hotel.”
Style and Substance Matter
Michael Dail, VP, Global Brand Marketing, Marriott Hotels & Resorts explains:
“We conducted a number of focus groups and consumer interviews with people around the globe, when strategizing the re-imaging roll out. One of the recurring messages we received is that people said they wanted a stylish hotel.
The respondents reported, ‘I have a stylish car, I have a stylish home, my shampoo bottle is stylish, it permeates my life, so I want a stylish hotel’. But they don’t want style simply for the sake of it. They want the style to deliver – to meet their evolving needs – to have substance.”
Marriott focuses on what generations X, Y, and beyond need when traveling, whether for business or pleasure. Through the redesign, Marriott hopes to project an underlying theme of ‘polished style without overdoing things’.
New Generation of Traveler – Social, Mobile, Connected
During the Travel + Leisure Global Bazaar event, many attendees (including myself) tweeted about it and even posted photos of the surroundings and activities. I asked Dail how social media has transformed society with the ability to instantly share thoughts and images.
“It’s good for us to see how people react to the changes we’ve implemented. We see our role as brilliant hosts for those life experiences. First, we want them to have a good time, but they also want to have the ability to interact with people who aren’t physically with them – the virtual world.”
He went on to remark about the unprecedented social and mobile connectivity required by this new generation of travelers. They want temporary living spaces that meet these needs. Dail claims, “Typical professionals don’t need to work in an office. They can work on their own terms; make their own decisions, as long as they get their work done.” The Marriott transformation allows this new generation of traveler to weave work and play together in a seamless tapestry of productive activity and connectivity.
I am impressed the way Marriott architects and design teams think of every minute detail and anticipate guest needs when planning new resorts. Cahill talked about the first JW Marriott Hotel in Cusco, Peru. For example, since Peru sits at an elevation of 11,200 feet, they’ve equipped each room with a supplemental oxygen system to alleviate altitude sickness for guests.
A Space and Place for Everyone
Marriott is adapting to the new way people are communicating and working together. “Whether traveling or not, people don’t want to just stay in one room to work,” said Dail. “Perhaps they want to work on the laptop from a comfortable bed, or they want to have the television on as background noise. Travelers often choose to work in the lobby or even outside in patio areas. We’ve found that many times, folks just want to gather in our great room to relax and unwind. You know, at the end of the day to celebrate. We’re envisioning the hotel as a place that meets the demands people have for what they’re doing today. We’re staying on top of the cutting edge of what they’ll want and need tomorrow.”
Innovative, Inspirational Hospitality
Marriott management has spent the past two years developing innovative concepts for transforming their brand. Cahill and his team have visited architecture sites, talked to various designers, and collected unique ideas about style, comfort, and functionality of temporary living spaces.
They even traveled to universities conducting research on the science of sleep, contemporary working styles, and the overall mobile lifestyle that’s emerged across the globe. “It’s not like one person sitting at their computer at a desk anymore,” remarks Cahill. “They prefer collaborating and forming teams where they can bounce ideas and strategies off one another.”
The Marriott Hotels and Resorts executive team plans to continue in their role as innovators and pioneers in the hospitality industry. Rather than rolling out the exact same solution for every hotel location, they’ll refine each new design to work seamlessly with the micro-culture where each hotel is located. Marriott’s overall future vision bodes well for the next generation of travelers and how they both work and play.