According to Brian McGuinness, Senior Vice President and Brand Ambassador for Marriott Hotels, Sheraton and Delta Hotels, “travel expands the mind, fosters ingenuity and helps you think outside the box”. Consequently, Marriott brands invest in technology and key partnerships, like their collaboration with TED, to facilitate travel. “It’s about encouraging people to think differently”, McGuinness explained just minutes before Abu Dhabi’s first TED Salon at the new Marriott Hotel Al Forsan.
The event was the third of five global TED Fellows salons series featuring renowned Moroccan architect Aziza Chaouni and French/ Tunisian street artist el Seed. They took to the stage in The Grill restaurant of the 400-room five-star hotel to present their ideas around the theme of ‘International Innovation – How our thinking can create a global ripple effect.’ Aziza Chaouni explained her journey focusing on projects that integrate architecture and landscape, and that ultimately give back to their communities while el Seed discussed the process behind blending historic Arabic art and graffiti to promote peace. The TED Fellows salons are a part of Marriott Hotels’ partnership with TED and have been conducted in Seattle and London, with upcoming events in Bangkok and Santiago.
Travelers staying at Marriott Hotels now have access to thought-provoking and inspirational content to help jumpstart their own original, inventive thinking. “Marriott has created a space that is perfect for our global, creative, and action-oriented community of Fellows,” said TED Fellows deputy director Shoham Arad. “TED Fellows represent 90 countries all over the world, and are working at the forefronts of their domain – Fellows are artists, doctors, scientists, entrepreneurs, inventors and beyond. Marriott’s hotels are there where we are, and the space they have built is enabling a true exchange of ideas.” Curated TED Talks and inspirational quotes are now available to guests through in-room entertainment and when logging into Wi-Fi at all Marriott Hotels. TED also created original videos for Marriott that are now available on the Marriott Hotels social media channels.
Innovation by Marriott
Marriott rolled out keyless entry which allows guests to unlock room doors using a smartphone. Other tech savvy hotel amenities include wireless high speed internet and mobile check-in, but it doesn’t stop there. McGuinness is preparing the hotel conglomerate for the future of travel and he has interesting ideas about how it will work. He noted how guest preferences are currently handled. Somewhere, stored in a computer database, there’s a static file that says you prefer interior, non-smoking rooms with double beds on high floors. It doesn’t change and beyond check-in, it’s rarely used. But McGuinness envisions a dynamic platform based on trip personas. We don’t always travel for the same purpose and consequently our preferences change. McGuinness described how trip personas can meet personal needs and drive things like amenities and concierge. For example, using beacon technology, if he entered the hotel and opened his ‘Party Brian’ profile vs his ‘Healthy Brian’ profile there might be a complimentary gin and tonic awaiting him as opposed to a smoothie. Innovating the way simple, yet impactful tasks are managed can have long-lasting, positive effects on service. But rest assured, McGuinness hasn’t lost sight of the fundamentals that drive hospitality. He declared a commitment to balance and “innovations that better help us serve the traveler, not innovation that takes humans out of the equation”.