Marriott has unveiled 10,000 square feet of space at its new headquarters in Bethesda, Md., for on-site experimenting, building and testing of new technologies and products. The Marriott Design Lab aims to accelerate the development and deployment of new technologies and products for the future of hospitality.
The lab is billed as a research and development division for all aspects of the hotel industry, from construction to in-room amenities. It will involve partnerships enabling companies to test their products at Marriott International’s network of roughly 7,800 properties under 30 brands.
Marriott International senior vice president of global design Jeff Voris said the Design Lab had been in development prior to the onset of the pandemic, but Covid-19 further motivated the company to get the division up and running.
“Marriott has a long history of innovation, and this is baked into our DNA,” Voris said. “As a company, we want to always keep evolving, and the pandemic caused us to accelerate that to make sure we stayed engaged with customers when they weren’t traveling and to help transition them back into traveling.”
The Design Lab is tasked with tackling short-term, well-defined issues such as improving cleanliness and the efficiency of housekeeping as well as bold ideas, concepts and technology.
“One thing we are working on is ways to improve construction so things are more efficient, higher quality and sustainable,” Voris said. “That’s a bigger, long-term project.”
One of the initial partners for the Design Lab is air conditioning/HVAC company Carrier. Marriott will be working with Carrier to explore opportunities in modular construction among other ideas.
Another initial partner is LG, which is working on operational solutions with Marriott.
“With LG we are looking at taking tasks that are dangerous, dirty or repetitive and finding ways to do a better job of those,” Voris said. “So that just makes the world better for everybody. Not necessarily the most visible thing, but really important to how we operate on behalf of our associates, our owners, and our guests.”
Voris said the Design Lab will emphasize “working together with the smartest partners we can find in the outside world to help evolve the industry.”