Marriott Showcases Innovation at Pop-Up Brand Lab in Los Angeles


Marriott Innovation Pop-Up Aloft and Element

The hotel industry is reaching far beyond its traditional brick-and-mortar model for ways to engage the next generation of travelers.

And eager to stay ahead of competitors, Marriott International’s innovation lab at its Bethesda, Maryland, headquarters is nurturing innovations for the Aloft and Element hotels brands acquired through its merger with Starwood Hotels and Resorts.

Marriott has launched its first pop-up hotel innovation lab, creating an interactive model hotel experience in downtown Los Angeles to crowdsource real-time feedback from the public, according to a press release.

The lab will let industry professionals, hotel guests, associates and the general public see, touch, taste and hear some of the exciting enhancements being considered for incubator brand Aloft, and eco-conscious, extended-stay brand Element.

Marriott Element

Element, for example, is piloting a new guest room design with communal areas that allow travelers to share a kitchen, dining room and lounge area. This will provide more collaborative space for groups who would like to spend time together in a more private setting.

Marriott Element

“We took a look at why people travel and what people need,” said Toni Stoeckl, VP lifestyle brands at Marriott. “Our lobbies have become more communal and social hubs, but we saw a need for something in between. There are a lot of opportunities for people to have their shared common space and be together but still have their private space.”

Aloft, meanwhile, will be revitalizing its food and beverage program with an emphasis on customized, healthy ingredients such as spinach, quinoa and avocado—and each serving, called a pot, can be paid for at a digital kiosk.

Marriott Aloft

Naturally, there will be tech-centric concepts, such as a portable wine cart for Element guests that automatically pours wine when activated by a hotel room key card.

“We’re excited to unveil Marriott’s first-ever, pop-up innovation lab for Aloft and Element—two phenomenal brands that are always evolving as guests, lifestyles and technology change,” said Eric Jacobs, chief development officer—North America, Marriott. “We’re also eager to collect and utilize feedback from the ownership community, which has expressed tremendous enthusiasm for both brands.”

Leveraging the real-time focus group in the lab, every person who passes through can offer feedback through Swurveys, a swipe-able survey, which will be reflected in the Aloft and Element brands.

“What we want to do is to invite our owners, our partners, our guests into the whole process of how we think of innovation for these brands,” added Stoeckl. “We really wanted to do this openly, get feedback and bounce our ideas for consumers and stakeholders. Those brands have always been about innovation.”

There are currently 127 Aloft and 23 Element hotels worldwide with an additional 136 Aloft and 66 Element hotels in the pipeline.

“One of the value propositions for buying Starwood and brands like Aloft and Element is growing them in a way that Starwood wasn’t able to,” added Jacobs. “The day-to-day traveler today, they are self-sufficient, they carry their own bags, they’re looking for ease of travel, they’re looking for a quality sleep experience, they’re looking for some food and beverage, but they’re not necessarily looking for the full service experience.”

Marriott is no stranger to innovation. Last year it unveiled its first M Beta hotel for its flagship Marriott Hotels brand at Charlotte Marriott City Center in North Carolina. Targeting Generation Z travelers, the M Beta is a functioning hotel and innovation lab that doubles as the world’s first hotel in “live beta.”