Community tables; lounge, booth and studio spaces; and a
designated on-property "community manager" are some of the additions
coming to the public spaces inside Sheraton Hotels as Marriott International
works to improve the brand globally.
When Marriott International closed its acquisition of
Starwood Hotels & Resorts in 2016, one of the first questions investors
asked was "What will happen with Sheraton?" Not only did Sheraton
constitute the largest brand for Starwood, but its poor reputation in North America
was seen as a drag on Starwood's system. Adding to the sting is that the brand
had undergone two revitalization efforts within the past decade.
Since Marriott became the official parent of the Sheraton
brand, it has exited 6,000 rooms and expects to exit another 2,000 by the end
of the year. Marriott president and CEO Arne Sorenson in November 2017
described the aggressive downsizing as "a full-court press to improve the
Sheraton brand." Yet, Marriott also has signed 5,000 new rooms to the
brand since 2016.
But Sheraton vice president and global brand leader Indy Adenaw
said turning Sheraton around is about more than exiting underperforming
products. "Our first six months was focused nearly entirely on
understanding the business," Adenaw told Business Travel News. "We went around and
talked to a bunch of owners and said, 'Tell us the good, the bad and the ugly.
Tell us everything.'" The next phase, he said, was to speak to consumers
in 13 cities across the globe about why they do or do not use Sheraton and what
those consumers were looking for in an experience.
From that legwork, Adenaw said, the team identified the
Sheraton core traveler as "the team player." The segment, he said, "fundamentally
believes in the 'we' versus the 'I.' When you think about hotel brands, they have
become very individualistic." The team player, instead, enjoys public
spaces where they can blend work and leisure and collaborate with others.
More on the public space upgrades
During the recent NYU International Hospitality Industry
Investment Conference, Marriott set up a 4,200-square-foot mock lobby space to
showcase some of the enhancements the brand would adopt to meet the needs of
the target customer.
The community table offers charging outlets, as well as
wireless mobile charging, programmable lighting and lockable desk compartments.
The lounge is a smaller flexible space off the main lobby area with power
outlets at each seat, business lockers with programmable locks and partition
screens to create a private-public environment.
The booths are individual,
soundproof spaces with charging outlets that allow customers to speak in
privacy. The studios are open team working spaces furnished with technology and
tools to allow for small meetings and collaboration.
Assisting guests in the space will be a dedicated community
manager who will roam the lobby to assist with reservations for public spaces
and food and beverage and other requests. "Imagine them being the host of
the community space; they're really focused on helping people gather,"
Adenaw said. "In a lot of places, it will be much more specific around
work. So if you need the ability to print, you need the ability to borrow a
cable, this would be a person that would go get it for you."
Additionally, Sheraton guests will be able to book public
spaces, find events and order food and drink through a digital platform at each
property. For food and beverage, Sheraton is focusing on elevated offerings
inspired locally and is looking to redefine the hotel cafe experience with its
Coffee Bar Bar, which transitions from a coffee bar to a cocktail bar from day
While Sheraton is focused on areas to meet in public spaces,
Adenaw said the brand is not going down the same road of AccorHotels with its
AccorLocal product, which provides on-property services to the entire
community, not just hotel guests.
Marriott wants this to work
Sheraton currently constitutes the third largest brand in
Marriott's 30-brand portfolio. So far, owners at 25% of Sheraton hotels
globally have committed to make renovations to their properties. Since
undertaking the Sheraton revamp, Marriott has leaned heavily on its past track
record of revitalizing brands, including Marriott, Fairfield Inn & Suites
While the Sheraton team has created a new identity for the
future of the brand, Adenaw said the lobby space set up in New York City is by
no means a standard prototype.
"We think at the full-service tier, the
hotels have to adjust to their location and the clientele that they serve,"
Instead, the brand has created guiding ideas, such as how
customers like to meet, and owners have some flexibility on how to execute that
depending on their property size and location.
"In a small, 200-room hotel
you may have one community table that is purpose built around working; in a
large conventional hotel you may need four of them," he said.
Source: Business Travel News