Marriott Studying the Future of Meetings in Hotels

A 2011 study by the Mobility Choice Coalition estimates that approximately 5.2 million Americans telecommute. And with the advent of mobile technology — including the rapid adoption of tablets, e-readers and smartphones — that number is growing by the day.

With that in mind, Marriott Hotels & Resorts has partnered with workplace experience provider Steelcase and design and innovation consultancy IDEO to design, create and test "innovative concepts and solutions" for the future of work and meetings in hotels, Marriott International announced this week.

"By 2013, almost 35 percent of the global workforce will be mobile," said Paul Cahill, senior vice president, Brand Management, Marriott Hotels & Resorts. "We are designing hotels for a new generation that is used to working how, where and oftentimes whenever they want. Marriott Hotels & Resorts is the leader in hospitality, and no one understands the changing nature of work better than Steelcase. Together, along with IDEO, we are excited to collaborate on the Future of Work, a working innovation lab designed to create solutions that innovate, elevate and evolve the hotel work experience."

To kick off their partnership, Marriott and its collaborators have developed 10 prototypes that create "new technology, space and service experiences" for meetings and work. Although details weren't released, the prototypes were showcased this week at the Marriott Hotels & Resorts Global General Manager Conference in Los Angeles — the first such conference in five years — where Marriott general managers were able to experience them and offer immediate feedback, "ultimately helping 'co-create' meeting experiences of the future in real time," according to Marriott.

"People need environments that help them innovate and inspire them to do great work," said Mark Greiner, chief experience officer at Steelcase. "With business executives working remotely more frequently, work has to go where they go. By bringing choice and control to a hosted-meeting environment, Steelcase, Marriott Hotels & Resorts and IDEO are delivering an unparalleled proposition for today and tomorrow's global worker."

Added IDEO Associate Partner Beth Viner, "We're thrilled to partner with Marriott Hotels & Resorts as well as Steelcase on this exciting endeavor. It is our experience that our most innovative clients in the hospitality sector understand that it is not just about changing the physical space, but instead choose to focus their attention on behavior and design. Both Marriott and Steelcase are heavily invested in creating change that affects the total experience from beginning to end."