First it was the Courtyards and now it appears that many of the Marriott hotels are having major lobby renovations. The only surveys I have received from Marriott in the past year have been related to lobbies. It appears that Marriott would rather spend on lobbies than on rooms. In my recent stay at the STL Marriott, the lobby looked great but the rooms were really worn, especially the bathrooms. I find the same to be true with the renovated Courtyards. I spend much more time in my room than in a hotel lobby, so I wish they would shift those funds to room improvements and restoring the platinum arrival amenity.
My hypothesis is they are targeting Millennials because they are more likely to use these public areas. However, the millenials I have surveyed say they only use the FS lobbies for the free wireless service, not because they enjoy being in the lobby. Wouldn't free internet be a better solution, so they can spend their resources on things that will benefit more customers? Many business travelers do not get reimbursed for internet charges and most mid-priced chains offer it for free.
Do other travelers really care that much about lobbies?
Sadly superchief, even though we, like Kathy Bates in Fried Green Tomatoes, are older and have more insurance (and no doubt currently more buying power) we are becoming dinosaurs as far as hotels are currently concerned, the bright shiny object of their attention is the Millenial group and their future potential. I've read several articles to that effect, and here are two of the better ones (with highlights of interest added by yours truly):
Point # 4 They provide opportunities for Millennials to meet other Millennials and experiences foreign countries with new people. This provides hotels with the opportunity to target Millennials by connecting and reaching out to them. Again, Aloft has embraced this idea very well by creating the social lobby and XYZ Bar with a much younger and "hipper" vibe that appeals to Millennials and draws them to socialize in the lobby rather than remaining sequestered in their rooms. The TRYP Hotel Times Square has also embraced this idea and taken it one step further with the use of LobbyFriend, an app that encourages hotel guests to meet and greet fellow guests. Even if Millennials don't meet others in the lobby area, they do practice "isolated togetherness," being alone on individual laptops or phones, but doing it in a public area. Advances in technology and sociability will attract Millennials who are seeking interaction and socialization to which they have become accustomed.
The older end of the Millennials spectrum is already traveling for business. In the past, hotel rooms offered in-room desks as it was expected that people worked in their rooms, travelers now want to work in a "third space." This was popularized with the coffee shop culture where people went for "third space" other than their home and work space and is segueing into the hotel industry where the lobby has been transformed into a place of socialization and work. Again, Millennials are social creatures who value group work and feedback. 36% of Millennials responded that they prefer to work in the lobby area compared to 17% of older generations.viii The standard for the industry is Marriott Courtyard's Bistro Lobby with their bar seats, pod seating to encourage group work, and open socializing nature. More and more hotel lobbies are being designed as an attractive place for work with a social component to adapt to the changing needs of younger travelers.
“Interesting is more important than comfort,” said Bjorn Hanson, divisional dean of the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management at New York University. “It’s the reverse for baby boomers.”
Keep those travel ideas coming sportsfans, so we can survive/thrive the ongoing push into the ol' hotel in the sky.
Many of the Millennials I know socialize by texting to each other rather than talking, even if they are in the same room. I have always enjoyed socializing, but when traveling and working long hours I am most concerned about a quiet, comfortable sleep. It would be interesting to learn how many use the lobbies for the free internet rather than because they want to work in a social environment.
I have to admit that I always prefer to work in the CL rather than in my room as long as it isn't too crowded or noisy. I just wish the outdated rooms would be improved.
I must not be your typical Gen Y then. I'd prefer to work in my room rather than the lobby. If group work is what's needed, then a CL would be preferred over the lobby again. And even if I did prefer to work in the lobby, I'd still prefer renovation priority to be placed on the rooms. That is where you're going to relax and sleep. Better to do so when you're in a nice, comfortable environment.
The only hotel/resort I've ever been to that I actually enjoy sitting in the lobby at is Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa. And the reason for this isn't to socialize either. I love to sit in the lobby when it's deserted, listen to the music, and enjoy the breeze flowing through.
Yes, but as one of our Millennial Ambassadors, we're counting on you to stay healthy, keep us informed, and bring (and help keep the ones already involved) contemporaries into the forum to provide even more impact to Insiders' voices.
If you haven't had a chance to read Top Ten Hotel Trends for Next Year
please take a glance and see how it may relate to your future travels - thanks.
As has been shown scores of times in this very forum; Marriott, because of the overall industry growth and their own effective financial management, has the luxury of bypassing current revenue dollars (jkernitzki, dejamo, stelzer, superchief and many, many more examples of big ticket travelers, representing hundreds of thousands of annual revenue dollars) to position themselves for the potential near term millennial payoff. Most likely (certainly 2012 & 2013 has proven lucrative) a sound strategy for their performance, but somewhat in conflict with the long time loyal (as in at least half as long as you've been breathing ) Marriott client.
Adapt, improvise, overcome. Keep on keepin' on Insiders.
ps - don't think we don't know that you liked sitting in that Disney lobby, because your lovely bride walked by every half hour!
haha I'll do my best! However, I will tell you, much of my peers care not about loyalty... they care about value. While I value loyalty programs, I will only be as loyal as the company is to me. Meaning, if Marriott keeps devaluing their program while others don't I may decide to leave.
Of course value matters to me too, and lately I haven't been seeing it at my local (Hawaii) properties. Yes the hotels are quite full now, but that's no excuse to charge the same as others and leave rooms in worst condition.
As for the list, it is quite interesting and I think is relevant to more than just the next generation. In-room, high-speed internet is a must... but I don't want to have to pay $20-25/day for it! That's the appeal of CY, but then you don't get point credit for anything but point charge and I still prefer full service properties. I don't need to be wowed to be loyal, but it is nice to be wowed! I do like speed and mobile, however, I still prefer to interact with the front desk. That personal interaction is often what can make stay even more special.
I will admit, however, to being a foodie (as if you didn't already know because of my blog!). Oh, and yes, as everyone on Insiders already knows, Tripadvisor, Yelp, etc. are important. In fact, a few months before my wedding, the wife and I had dinner at the JW Ihilani. It was a painful experience due to lack of information prior to the meal and the service rendered by the waitstaff. Well, until they gave me my tab and found out I was a Platinum. Needless to say I expressed my displeasure on Yelp, however, the JW responded quickly and resolved the issue to my satisfaction.
As for Disney... haha, never would that happen! If anything she's sitting next to me. It's just relaxing... when empty anyway. Lately it's been incredibly busy!
I just read an interesting article about a study done by E&Y that showed Gen Y to be rated as terrible managers, only caring about themselves and not team players. I have been fortunate to work with several bright, productive, and enthusiastic Millennials who don't fit that mold (and also hate Courtyards and Aloft Hotels.)
I like having both a nice lobby and a nice room. While I do not spend a great amount of time in the lobby, I think it is nice when you enter an upscale and sleek lobby at check-in or you are meeting people (one of the reasons why I prefer Renaissance to Marriott--lobbies and rooms that are more my style).
But if they only had enough money to spend in one place, I would much rather have them spend it on the room. JW Marriott LA LIVE is kind of like that--great lobby and lounge, great hallways, great valet area, great Executive Lounge, but the rooms (while nice) just do not feel that luxurious.
I "kind of" get it. I am NOT a Millennial, far from it, but when traveling with business colleagues, we often order room service brought to the concierge lounge and eat together in a setting that is less formal that the hotel restaurant. We may do some work together, but mostly we talk. I think the feeling of being in a lounge or lobby gives you more freedom to get up, walk around, talk, work, without a waitperson depending on your table for part of their income.
If at a Courtyard, the new lobbies are ideal for this. In a Residence Inn or SpringHill Suites, we use the Hearth Room or Great Room for the same purpose. We have ordered from local restaurants when the hotel does not offer meal service.
When traveling alone, I typically work in my room. Because the amount of time spent in a public area is MUCH LESS than in my room, I want the nicest room possible!
You hit the nail on the head. Couldn't have said it better. When travelling for work, I want the most luxurious desk chair and brightest table lamp so I can work in comfort. I want multiple plugs on top of the desk, and on the nightstands next to the bed, so I don't have to crawl around on the floor. These items are relatively inexpensive and could be implemented faster and cheaper than a lobby renovation.
If I were to vote between the two, room comfort supercedes lobby glitz.
I agree with all of the above who prefer room enhancements for focused work over lobby upgrades (and of course would gladly take both). But just like many of us carry on conversations with each other without needing to check our smartphone every 30 seconds while the new target audience doesn't (or at least the hundreds I interact don't), in a similar fashion, we prefer comfort and non-distracting focus, whereas the new target audience 'multi-tasks' (or at least in the market research Marriott uses). So once more, the new target audience wins.
Even if we were filming the Great Gatsby or even Hemingway and Gelhorn at this point I would vote for rooms over lobby, hand's down. For me a lobby is just a place to enter, or to find someone, and without the bellhop strolling through with his familiar cry of "Call for Mister Anadyr," there seems little to interest me there. I realize that a lobby sets the stage, that hotels spend a lot on them, but they are antiquated and perhaps nearing obsolescence.
Most folks I see in the lobby are glued to their "devices," ignoring the rest of the folks nearby, or chatting merrily on their phones.
Just my two cents.
I vote rooms also. Fortunately I retired before this focus on the so-called Millennials came into vogue. Although I still tend to get the latest technological devices, I am still old school when it comes to interpersonal communications/privacy. BTW, good luck with these Millennials.
Good post and interesting point. As a Millenial (had never heard the term before today), I thought I should add my 2 cents.
I too have noticed plenty of places with great lobbies and mediocre rooms. For example, the Courtyard in Nusa Dua looks like quite a grand hotel but rooms and other services are pretty basic. My guess would be that the hotel (well, Marriott) feels like it gets the most bang for the buck by investing in the lobby as it is useful in marketing material and almost a branding exercise in as much as it may convince some that you are staying in a nice place than you really are. It is, quite literally window dressing. I am sure there may be some that like spending time in the lobby and it has never really appealed to me. I agree that it gives a nice initial impression, but particularly on business, I get very little value from this. I also agree that the room is the most important thing to me and would personally prefer to see Nespresso coffee machines and free internet.
Free internet probably deserves a special mention. Whilst I get this for free as a Plat, I can't believe others are still charged. The fact that I would be charged at Ritz-Carlton would put me off staying there. The effect of a nice lobby is soon ruined by the news that you have to pay to access the internet. Whilst lack of dissatisfaction is not the same as satisfaction, it is a good start.
On the subject of loyalty, as a Millenial, I think I should point out that this is very important to me. I have tried most of the other brands in this category (Hilton, Radisson , IHG) and their reward schemes and overall feel that Marriott suits me best. Whilst others may notice a slide in benefits, I still think it stacks up pretty well and I greatly value the benefits I receive from Marriott. I feel it is a 2 way street (as it should be) and that my loyalty is rewarded. In terms of improvements, I would value coffee machines in the room (as mentioned), more frequent upgrades (wouldn't we all) and a review of the no blackout dates policy (try booking a hotel in London for NYE or Edinburgh festival). As a general point, I hope more is invested in personalised offers too as the offers I currently receive are nopt relevant to me and add little value.
Bringing us all the way back to the original Sept. 7th question, it does appear anecdotally that we as Insiders have data (and interests) running contrary to what Marriott is utilizing in their interaction with their property operators.
Top 10 Trends of The Next Generation of Travel: TheMillennials / Teresa Y. Lee / April 2013 (posted above in my earlier post three months ago). As I re-read those Top Ten trends, man, it sure looks like Marriott is going down the list and checking them off, even in the rare case that the research data is inaccurate (which I doubt if it is - seeing numerous similar reports), after awhile it becomes the 'perception is reality' scenario where everyone chases the same target - real or not (similar to money chasing deals - it moves the market/industry, warranted or not).
Our Innovations The Great Room - Marriott Travel Brilliantly The great room referenced in the link to the left is the Lobby and is one of Marriott's key, if not initial Travel Brilliantly concept - so I'm pretty confident Focus on Lobbies is here to stay for the time being.
The question about internet charges was essentially asked of Sorenson by Sorkin on CNBC and his non-response gave me (and CNBC hosts) the impression that the answer to why internet is still a charge, especially at the higher end full service properties, is because Marriott can still receive income from it without losing market share. BTW, this peculiar service anomaly actually makes it one of the more significant gold/platinum elite member benefits - free internet.
As I've read in this forum two years of veteran (big $$$) travelers' interests, desires, hopes etc. and watched them constantly being overlooked (even something as easy as a win/win Lifetime Platinum recognition letter) unless they matched where Marriott was going anyway, I've come to realize that to truly enhance my Marriott travels (which thank goodness, still provides excellent service at the property level), I need to keep up with what Marriott projects as important, because given their financial momentum, that's where we're headed.
That's why I hold out hopes of attracting more and more millennial travelers to this forum because it matches up well with Marriott's understandable belief in the power of social media and better aligns the forum with Marriott's clearly demonstrated target audience.
Just realised that I previously posted without reading the original article on Millenials but have now done so and have 2 more cents worth....
As a Millenial, I think there is some truth in the article but an awful lot of hyperbole. If my company put me up in a pod hotel with self-service check-in, a self-service restaurant, I would leave the firm. My guess is that it is written by someone who stays quite infrequently at hotels as things like working with colleague sounds vaguely glamorous to those who have never done it. It is a false dichotomy to suggest that young travellers want it quick, cheap and convenient whilst more mature travellers require a butler and a giant brass room key (I may be exaggerating a little here). My vote is for better quality sausages at breakfast, better coffee, larger exec lounges, more meeting rooms available for guests, and a continued emphasis on providing great, personal service.
I realize this thread is from September but I’ll add some general thoughts. I think we could all agree that besides the differences between a full-service and select-service hotel, the hotel lobby as we know it has not really changed over the years besides maybe adding more room or natural light where possible so it’s a natural target. And generational labels aside, a great experience (including great service) goes a long way towards earning your repeat business, especially since all hotel guests make some use of the hotel lobby space, even if only people-watching while walking through or checking in.
I will second the people watching attributes of the lobby. The Chicago O'Hare Marriott has a beautiful open expansive lobby/restaurant/bar/coffee area and is ideal for sitting and enjoying a Starbucks or adult cocktail and watching the airline stewardesses come and go.
Bonus tip: if you need your phone charged, the front desk has a hidden charging station and they will charge your phone for you while you wait, just give them your name and come back after a little bit.
As far as I'm concerned large lobbies are a waste of space. Whether on business or pleasure the most important aspects of a property (to me) is the size of the rooms (including bathrooms), amenities in the rooms and facilities (food services, business services, recreation, fitness etc).
Each and every square foot devoted to a large lobby that is relatively empty most of the day (excluding the reception area) is taking away space from roomier facilities.
Small boutique 4 or 5 star hotels rarely have large lobbies for socializing. Isn't that what a lounge is for (light food and drink)?
Space cost money - you are paying for it if you use it or not!
I'm getting tired of agreeing with misterchk so much, but when he's right, he's right.
There is way too much emphasis on lobbies that could be invested in making the hotels work better/
Yes, but...... Wasted space is a sign of wealth, in a way. So a huge lobby full of nothing but expensive looking and uncomfortable chairs and tables 3/4" off the ground that all end up never being used lend an air of wealth and exclusivity. Appeals to the inner snob in all of us.