September 29 2022, Kimpton Fitzroy London
Friday 30 September 2022, JW Marriott Grosvenor
21 November 2022, Hilton London Metropole
Philip Andreopoulos, VP Global Sales, Europe, Marriott International talks to Tom Newcombe about future trends in business travel, ‘disruptors’ in the industry and changing travel policies.
With the increase use of mobile technology among travellers are more hotels now targeting business travellers directly and bypassing the buyer and TMC?
The aim is not to bypass anyone but develop technology and solutions that meet the needs of the traveller and the procuring organisation. Marriott has always been at the forefront of technology and is increasingly looking for ways to innovate our mobile and internet technology so that we can provide a better service to our customers and guests.
Select Marriott Hotels in the U.S. are testing mobile guest services where guests using the chat feature on their smartphones can make requests to hotel staff for things such as extra pillows, bath amenities, towels, valet parking and wake up calls, or anything else.
These innovations respond to our customers’ needs and help us stay relevant in the competitive landscape, but we are also very supportive of companies’ efforts to mandate travel policy. We are always willing to work on technical solutions to support this, such as integrating systems to allow travellers to book in the way they want to, without compromising the objectives of procurement.
Boutique /pod hotels - Will the rise in popularity of these hotels drive down room rates at traditional hotels?
As travel becomes an increasingly frequent part of people’s work and social lives, there is a need for a wider range of products on offer. Everyone’s tastes are individual and so we welcome the broadening range of options – it is good for our industry and ensures we keep listening to our customers, innovating and moving the industry forward through our own product innovations to stay front of mind.
Marriott is also responding to the changing market by launching new hotel experiences. For example, we are launching Moxy Hotels this year, an economy lifestyle brand aimed at the next generation of traveller, with rooms starting at just £60. Each hotel has been designed with the latest in technology so guests can connect in appealing social spaces.
Moxy Hotels: An industry 'disruptor'?
Future trends in the industry and how these will affect business travel
We believe that travel will continue to increase; entire new markets are opening up and will, in time, become source markets themselves. I also think the next generation of business travellers will want to have more control over their business travel and our technology innovations will support this.
Working from home will become more common and hotels need to adapt to this by offering flexible meeting spaces for colleagues to meet. In the U.S., we have developed a concept called ‘Workspace on Demand’, an online platform where people can book small meeting spaces, as well as lobby seating areas and communal tables to work, meet, connect and collaborate. We hope to launch this in Europe soon.
Marriott Hotels’ GreatRoom lobby concept is also rolling out at the moment, offering an open, flexible and sociable space for guests to use for any purpose, business or social, at any time.
Innovation: Examples of Marriott trying to stay ahead of competitors in relation to corporate travel
We run a frequent traveller program called Marriott Rewards, which offers exclusive membership privileges when you travel, as well as your choice of frequent flyer miles in your preferred airline program, or points towards free holidays.
We also recognise the way people work is changing. Take meetings as an example, people are seeking versatility and choice depending on the style of the meeting – seating, lighting, equipment and space all needs to be considered and adapted. Meetings can be an informal discussion, brainstorm or board meeting and the work space needs to reflect these needs. Our ‘Next Generation Meeting Spaces’ in Munich and Amsterdam respond to this trend – they are incredibly modern, with state of the art wireless technology, contemporary design and flexible furniture for all variety of meeting purpose. These new spaces are rolling out in Europe with London Marriott Kensington and Paris Marriott Rive Gauche next.
To complement this, we launched our new digital platform, ‘Meetings Imagined’, boasting ideas, top tips and case studies for planning meetings. It enhances the whole process of planning meetings, allowing users to design the entire look and feel of an event through the use of image galleries and other interactive tools.
‘Red Coat Direct’, a new digital concierge service enabling meeting organisers to edit meeting requests with a touch of a button without ever leaving the meeting room, will also fully roll-out this year.
Expansion plans: Courtyard by Marriott Tokyo opened earlier this year
‘Disruptors’ in the business travel market in 2014 or 2015?
I really believe that our Moxy brand has the potential to disrupt the industry. There is space in the market for an affordable, design led, modern product that people aspire to stay at but which sits comfortably in the economy tier and participates in an industry leading loyalty programme.
Are you seeing a change in companies travel policies...is there still a strong focus on cost cutting?
Across all lodging tiers, in almost all locations around the world, the hotel industry saw a decline in RevPAR (Revenue Per Available Room) following the economic downturn. This RevPAR decline was driven by a decrease in demand and a desire, on the part of the buyer, to reduce travel costs. While growth returned quite quickly in many of our gateway city locations, it has taken longer for us to see demand return in secondary and tertiary locations.
One of the strengths of Marriott is the breadth of our brand portfolio. When economic times were challenging our customers were able to find a Marriott product providing the quality and experience they wanted within the cost guidelines they needed.
Other important factors in company travel policies include safety and security, which is a top priority for us, and companies’ corporate social responsibility programmes. Marriott's long-term commitment to responsible business practices includes support that gives back to local communities. For example, in Europe we run a charitable giving programme called World of Opportunity in partnership with The Prince’s Trust and SOS Children’s Villages to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds reach their full potential.
Any other Marriott business – openings/ product launches etc...
Marriott recently completed its acquisition of Protea Hospitality Group, becoming the largest hotel company in Africa. We are also excited to launch the luxurious JW Venice Resort & Spa early next year on its own private island.