Move Over, Starbucks: Marriott Offers Workspace On Demand

Attempting to pierce the burgeoning flexible work and meeting space market, Marriott has launched a new program called Workspace on Demand, currently at more than 30 hotels, primarily in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco but also at select locations in Atlanta, Houston and St. Louis.

Here, workers can reserve meeting spaces, lobby seating areas and communal tables to enjoy an afternoon of meetings or a quick catch-up between colleagues.

This may be an untapped opportunity for the hotel market – Marriott is the first we’ve seen to both publicly advertise lobby space to non-guests and to charge for its use. According to research firm IDC, the number of mobile workers – those without a fixed office space – will increase to nearly 1.2 billion globally this year.

“Younger workers are changing the work dynamic. They are mobile and global, living lives untethered to the traditional work environment, and we are evolving with them,” said Paul Cahill, senior vice president, Brand Management, Marriott Hotels & Resorts in a release.

Workers can book these spaces through an app/website collaboration with LiquidSpace, which already offers flexible work spaces on a limited term basis.

We tried to book a meeting space for Washington, D.C., and found the system simple to use, if the work spaces themselves a bit sparse in selection. We could reserve a communal table for eight at the Renaissance in Dupont Circle for $38.50 per hour or $150 for a half-day. The venue was closed for today, but available for Monday, Jan. 14.

It seems like it’s worth a shot if you need a set amount of space for an important meeting, but we might just consider a flexible office space’s conference room where we’re guaranteed peace and quiet, or the option of taking our chances in the hotel lobby.

What do you think? Will you try out the service?

[Image Credit: Renaissance Dupont Circle]

Marriott Courtyard unveils new lobby concept, rolls out displays in airports across the country

Courtyard by Marriott has recently begun rolling out improvements to their popular brand. In July, we told you about improvements to their food service model through a their new “Bistro” concept. Now, the brand is rolling out newly-renovated lobbies and has chosen a fitting place for the concept to make its debut – airports.

[Check out this page, on where to find the Lobby Zone displays.]

Popular amongst business travelers and families alike, Courtyard drew loyal fans for their full, hot breakfast buffets. But as the average traveler evolved, hotel executives realized that the area taken up by the breakfast buffet went unused for a good portion of the day. As part of the redesign, the brand re-invented their food service model, transforming the buffet and lobby areas into “bistros” with a quick casual vibe, and re-invented their lobby to match.

The new lobbies include laptop friendly stations with multiple outlets and a giant touchscreen TV where travelers can look up the weather, news and local attractions to help them with their stay. The more modern decor caters to younger and more tech-savvy travelers as well.
%Gallery-138489%We asked Janis Milham, vice president and global brand manager for Courtyard by Marriott, a few questions about the new renovations:

Does the new lobby concept indicate a new type of traveler to your brand, a modernization of the property, or a bit of both?

The redesign of the lobby and public space environment wasn’t simply modernization for the sake of modernization. It was modernization that was informed by evolving guest needs and their desire for a more flexible space to work and relax, as well as their desire for a variety of food and beverage options in both the morning and evening.

Are there any other advancements to the hotels we can be expecting in the coming months?

We’ve recently unveiled the new and exciting GoBoard® 4.0 [which] now provides guests with immediate access to detailed flight departure and arrival information for all local airports and allows guests to send directions to local area restaurants and attractions from the GoBoard® directly to their smart phones.

How did your team design the new concept – what was the thought process behind the change?

We based our design on extensive customer feedback and enlisted the San Francisco-based design firm, IDEO, to create a totally new lobby experience that makes it easy to work, plug-in, socialize and relax.

When can we expect these new lobbies to be rolled out to all hotels? How many are open now?

We currently have over 800 Courtyard hotels in North America, and more than 50% of them will feature the redesigned lobby by the end of the year. We expect that over 90% of our hotels will have the new lobby and public space design by the end of 2013.

Where can travelers find these lobby concepts to test out?

[T]ravelers at Phoenix Terminal 4, Houston Terminal E, near Gate 19, and Baltimore/Washington Concourse A now have an oasis to recharge their devices and their energy before boarding.These are accessible through December 16.

Have you experienced the new lobby concept for yourself? What do you think? Weigh in with your comments, below.