THE LOBBY: MARRIOTT'S NEW FRONTIER

Marriott Hotels' ongoing campaign to better appeal to the changing demographics of lodging guests took another step forward with the recent introduction of a new lobby concept. Marriott's new Great Room design will allow guests to use the space to work, relax or socialize. The company introduced it last month during a media open house in New York City that coincided with the opening of the 500th Residence Inn.

Concluding as other brands have that many guests view the lobby as a living room, not just the space to traverse to and from their rooms, Marriott contracted design innovation firm IDEO to help it determine guest needs and formulate the new lobby concept.

“The lobby as we know it is a decades-old model that doesn't reflect how people live and travel today,” says Mike Jannini, Marriott's executive vice president of brand management. “Through our work with IDEO, we unearthed two insights: one is that many guests participate in ‘social business,’ or working, traveling and socializing with colleagues; also, and in contrast, some guests enjoy ‘relaxing work,’ or working on their own time and pace with multi-tasking between personal business and work.”

In response to these trends, the Great Rooms will feature four general zones: a welcome zone where guests can check in, access concierge services and purchase retail items; an individual zone which guests can use to relax, read, surf the Internet and enjoy a snack in quiet; a social zone that groups can use for informal meetings, discussions or to share a beverage or snack; and a business zone that will include a business center and a multi-functional boardroom with a variety of A/V equipment.

At the same meeting, Marriott introduced a new guest service program that combines personalization, technology and frequency awards. The Spirit To Serve Our Guests initiative includes five components:

  • When returning guests call Marriott's reservations offices, their personal preferences, Marriott Rewards information and payment method appear instantly on the booking screen for use by the agents.

  • After booking, guests receive a pre-arrival e-mail message with information about their stay and the destination.

  • Marriott Rewards members' personal preferences — everything from foam pillows to specific newspapers and more — will be honored automatically when they check in.

  • A virtual concierge will help guests at full-service properties pre-arrange tee times, roomservice meals, restaurant reservations, car services and more.

  • DreamRewards Tracker is an online system that allows frequency program members to electronically select and track their progress toward specific rewards, like a trip to Hawaii or a golf vacation.

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