A behind-the-scenes peek into Marriott’s secret innovation lab [Construction report]
The Lab is a warren of rooms, each a full-sized prototype lets the teams address changing styles on a small scale before taking it global
Check out how the world’s largest hotel company Marriott is developing the hotel rooms of the future
Marriott International has a secret laboratory where it is building the hotel room of the future.
That is to say, the largest hotel company in the world is using a lab to glean insights about how the business is evolving, on a macro scale as well as on a micro scale, doing so by looking at everything from the shape of the wall sconces to where electrical outlets are located. It is, in a very real sense, a natural move to stave off stiff competition in the space from the likes of traditional hotel companies such as Hilton, as well as upstart disruptive concepts like Airbnb.
So, what then is exactly happening in this secret lab, and what does the hotel room of the future look like? Fast Company recently took a look, and below you can find some of the key highlights.
HOW THE LAB WAS BORN
Let’s start by discussing the lab in which Marriott is doing this work.
Located in Bethesda, Maryland (just outside of Washington, D.C.), the facility is two stories below Marriott’s HQ. In it, they have lined up simulations of their own hotel brands, including Residence Inn, Sheraton, Aloft, and more.
The story behind it is that some time ago, an employee accidentally locked himself in the basement of the Marriott headquarters building. While trying to escape from his predicament, he discovered that the space he was confined in was taller than he thought.
The idea for the Innovation Lab was born. What now exists is a 10,000-square foot, labyrinthian set of rooms, all of which are replicas of hotel rooms frequently used by guests and business travellers. It’s in these rooms that some of the most influential designers and architects work to craft the future of the hospitality business.
With 30 brands under its umbrella—many of which target distinct styles and demographics—Marriott is in a unique position where it both influences what other brands are doing and must work hard to catch up. That’s where the Innovation Lab proves invaluable.
So, what then does the hotel room of the near future look like?
HOTEL ROOM OF THE FUTURE
What the Marriott Innovation Lab allows for more than anything is an agile space for the testing of ideas.
In it, teams of researchers and design pros take on evolving facets of the business such as style, technology, and service. They do so on small scale where it’s okay to fail. When they hit on an idea that works, however, it next goes out from the lab and to the rest of the world
With Marriott having so many different brands, it is, of course, hard to get a read on exactly what the future of the business looks like, other than varied. Marriott works hard in its innovation lab to give all of its 30 brands not only a distinct feel, but something unique and special to offer guests. It even has a quote from famed (and fictional) innovator Willy Wonka written on the wall near its entrance, “Invention, my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple.”
It is this spirit that will most likely dictate the hotel room of the future.
Let’s take a look at a few other projects currently underway by Marriott International:
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