Innovations such as local offerings, hosted arrivals and modular furniture in the guestrooms are being tested and rated by guests at the M Beta at Charlotte Marriott City Center.
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina—Marriott International is working to create hotel spaces that guests and local residents want to spend time in.
To achieve this, Marriott is testing products, spaces and local offerings at the M Beta at Charlotte Marriott City Center, which is a live beta-testing hotel in Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina.
Visitors vote on what they like by pressing “beta buttons,” which are featured on TV screens in the lobby of the hotel, and votes are calculated in real time. Aspects of the hotel that guests like the most are then considered for use in other hotels under the Marriott Hotels brand.
“The Marriott brand is obviously the flagship, and it’s a place where we want to make sure we’ve got as much momentum and as much innovation as we possibly can,” Arne Sorenson, Marriott International’s president and CEO, said during a roundtable discussion at the M Beta grand opening. “Some of the trends that we’ve talked about are very much trends that apply in every tier in every segment. This notion that customers want to have some experiences, they want to have some local flavor where they stay, I think those are things, essentially, that apply no matter what kind of hotel you’re in. So we’ll see some of the same things happening across the brands, but what (we have here) is focused on Marriott.”
Sorenson said Marriott bought the existing Charlotte Marriott City Center hotel, which opened in 1984, “so that we could reinvent it.” The hotel is very different from what it was, he added.
“It was a very traditional lobby. It was a bit dark, and of course it had distinct restaurant space, but it was its own space, not necessarily part of the broader public space,” Sorenson said. “And in part because there weren’t many people in it, typically during the day, you really didn’t want to be there.
“And now you end up with folks hanging in these various places all day long. And they’re holding one-on-one meetings or they’re doing their emails or they’re coming into the local market to have lunch or do whatever it is that they’re doing.”
- Click here to watch a video interview with Sorenson, who talks more about innovation and Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.
Reinventing the Marriott Hotels brand
Stephanie Linnartz, EVP, chief marketing officer and chief commercial officer at Marriott, said the company has to be careful when it comes to updating the brand’s offerings.
“It’s a challenge, and we need to do it carefully because it is a brand that is so loved and well-respected and well-known,” she said. “But when I think about what we want people to think about the Marriott brand, I want them to think that it’s fresh, it’s relevant, it meets their needs. … Consumers these days want local experiences, and when they think of staying at a Marriott, I want the consistency to be around flawless execution of things. But there will be a local experience when you stay there.”
Linnartz said today’s consumers expect more from their stay.
“I just think consumers are so much more demanding these days in terms of what they expect, not just only in the hotel space, but in life in general. … So my team spends a lot of time thinking about what are consumers doing outside of the hotel space, and then how would that translate into how we do a better job of delivering service at our property,” she said.
More on M Beta
Other concepts being tested at the hotel include hosted arrival, where guests are greeted by employees and checked in on a tablet. Mobile check-in is also offered through the Marriott app, as well as keyless entry.
The hotel has four food and beverage locations, which include the Kitchen at Stoke, a farm-to-table experience with locally produced menu items; Coco and the Director, a coffee shop and localized marketplace; a back-of-house pop-up shop that features a rotation of chefs and bartenders; and The Bottle Shop, a retail wine shop in the hotel lobby.