Visitors to a hotel conference in downtown Los Angeles got to witness firsthand how a major hotel company comes up with new concepts for hotel rooms and lobbies.
Marriott International took over a city street next to Staples Center this week to display its testing ground for new products under a row of tents. The permanent lab is located in a basement at Marriott's Bethesda, Md., headquarters.
The public and anyone attending the Americas Lodging Investment Summit were invited to check out some of the ideas under consideration by Marriott's engineers and designers.
Among the most unusual ideas on display was a layout that surrounds a communal living room and kitchen with four bedrooms.
The group of rooms could be rented by business colleagues traveling to a conference together or friends attending a bachelor party, said Toni Stoeckl, vice president for Marriott's distinctive select brands. Marriott is considering the idea for its Element Hotel brand.
An Element Hotel could fit one common-room configuration per floor, but Stoeckl said the company is still trying to determine if the idea would be popular or profitable.
"So far, the feedback has been very positive," he said.
Another idea on display at the lab was an automatic drink dispenser that guests can control with a smartphone. The advantage of the dispenser is that a hotel can award guests free drinks by simply sending an email with a link to a website, Stoeckl said.
The website includes an icon that the guests can press, and within a minute, the dispenser pours out a glass of wine or beer, Stoeckl said. The website can also be linked to a credit card to pay for drinks.