Where are hotel’s going?

Later this summer, Marriott will launch its new hotel chain, Moxy Hotels, aimed at the millennial generation (roughly ages 18 to 33). In partnership with Inter Hospitality Holding, the hotels will feature small, low-cost rooms with grab-and-go food and the feel of a Silicon Valley startup. “In four years, 60% of our business will be millennials,” says Mr. Marriott, who adds with a laugh, “All of us old folks are moving on.”

Over the years, Mr. Marriott has seen a seismic change in his business. “Today is a whole new ballgame for me,” he says. “When I went to hotels when I was young, you went into the lobby, you checked in at the desk, and if you were hungry, you went to the restaurant and sat at the counter and had a hamburger,” he says. “Now, you check into your room, drop your luggage and go back to the lobby to use your computer or meet your friends.”

Seven years ago, in response to changing patterns, Marriott launched a program called “The Great Room” that raised the ceilings in hotel lobbies and expanded the seating areas to give customers a central place to work and socialize.

In addition to conducting focus-group research, Mr. Marriott says the company now pulls data from social media. For example, it asks guests for ideas of how to improve travel. When one wrote back asking for healthy vending machines, the company flew her to London to find items in farmers’ markets that could be stored in a machine. Marriott plans to launch the first of its new nutritious vending machines—with items such as fresh fruit and energy bars—in Chicago this fall.

Marriott has also redesigned hotel rooms in its newer brands based on what customers want today. Millennials live out of their suitcases, Mr. Marriott says, so the company has made closets smaller and TVs and bathrooms bigger. It has gotten rid of in-room desks in many hotels. And a new line of Edition hotels—a collection of contemporary properties in London and Istanbul, with two more locations coming by the end of 2015—emphasizes the hotel’s lounge and restaurant scene over the rooms. (The brand is a collaboration with Ian Schrager. ) Over 50% of the Edition brand’s revenue comes from food and beverage rather than from room fees.

Mr. Marriott is also adjusting his company for the growing middle class, especially from China. Last year, he says, 100 million Chinese traveled out of the country, and by 2020, that number is expected to double. In response, Marriott has launched programs to teach more desk clerks to speak Mandarin. “We’ve got to get ready for them, and we’ve got to provide them with good Chinese food and menus in Chinese, especially in gateway cities like San Francisco, New York and Chicago,” he says. “They want to shop, they want to go downtown, and they spend two to three times more on a trip more than we spend.”

He expects more advances in technology. Marriott now has mobile check-in and will add mobile checkout next. Soon, he says, guests will be able to open their room doors with their smartphones and choose exactly which rooms they want ahead of time.

It’s a lot of change for a company that has had the same leader for over 40 years. But Mr. Marriott understands the need to be flexible. “You surround yourself with good people, then the important thing is to listen to them, and not let them know what you think before you ask them what they think,” he says. “Once they know what you think, most of the time they’ll go along with it.”

– extracts from The Wall Street Journal article – Where Hotel’s are going?

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