Marriott International has embarked on an effort to advance innovation in a way that courts younger travelers, yet also maintains brand consistency for older guests.
Achieving this balance is a significant challenge. However, the leading global hospitality brand, Marriott, has made its downtown Charlotte, North Carolina its new innovation lab – for testing new technology concepts.
According to this recent Fast Company article, the property has “beta buttons” on its walls, tables, and iPads, as well as “beta boards” for gaining instant-feedback from guests. Of course this new effort is truly aimed at appealing to next generation of consumers – millennials and gen Z – who will soon make up the bulk of the hotels’ customers.
This does not mean that Marriott is abandoning its baby boomer guests, who seek brand consistency when they travel to properties. As such, Marriott is now focused on introducing variety into hotels, while also ensuring that guests leave knowing they’ve encountered the Marriott brand.
A bigger challenge for Marriott and other large brands wanting to seek this balance is the investment in upgrading all properties to meet these new needs. The property refresh cycle was typically four years or more in the making. Today, brands are speeding up this cycle in order to remain competitive, and offer unique guest experiences. For many brands, this rapid development cycle is not economically sustainable.
However, Marriott is leading the way by making innovation, and especially feedback from younger guests, a true part of its DNA. As the brand continues to evolve, this heritage of innovation will allow it to remain differentiated in a highly competitive, and fast-moving arena.