Marriott will soon introduce communal hotel rooms that share a common living room space.
Marriott is always testing new ideas in its Innovation Lab. Recently I visited a temporary version of the lab in Los Angeles, which was set up for ALIS, a big hotel investment conference happening in the city
Here are some of the ideas I saw on display.
Visitors go inside a hotel room that only contains the basics like a bed. They snap on virtual reality goggles to see what the room might look like with various setups. This way Marriott could "test" various room setups and see what the reaction is from potential hotel guests.
At the company's Element brand - which is focused on longer stays and wellness - they will soon introduce Communal rooms. These are a block of about 3-4 rooms surrounding a common living room and kitchen area. Bedrooms and bathrooms are private but they open up into the shared living space. Some say it's the chain's answer to Airbnb, but Marriott says they are perfect for groups traveling together. Of course, random strangers are also welcome to book the individual rooms so you never know who you might meet on your next trip!
"Really it’s about a much more shared economy these days. It's much more about socializing and a sense of community when you travel," explained Toni Stoeckl, a Global Brand Leader at Marriott.
Marriott's Aloft chain is introducing made to order Breakfast Pots. They feature fresh ingredients like quinoa and avocado. You order and customize them through a giant touch screen.
Self Service Wine Bar
This is popping up at various Marriott hotel properties. At check-in, digital drink coupons are sent to your phone. You then use the hotel app to activate an automated wine dispenser, which delivers a perfect pour with your choice of white or red.
Marriott is testing Siri in 10 real guest rooms so you can control everything with your voice. You can dim the lights or change the color of them, work the TV set, control the temperate and more.
"We want to make sure that we are delivering products and services that are really compelling to our guests," Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson told me.
It's working - last year I stayed at both the Aloft and Element brands and they were two of my favorite hotels.