Marriott’s first Moxy Hotel opens this summer near Milan’s Malpensa airport, followed by Munich at the end of the year. Another 10 openings in Europe are slated for 2015, with 150 anticipated altogether over the next decade. Moxy was designed from the ground up for Gen X/Y based on fundamental shifts in consumer behavior within the hotel industry.
According to Marriott, younger travelers want both nervy style and low pricing, and they place more priority on dynamic experiences in public spaces than room product and service. The urban and suburban hotels will run $80-$110 for rooms around 200 square feet, which Marriott calls “Command Centers,” with floor-to-ceiling art walls, designer repro furniture and 42-inch TVs with airplay connectivity.
“Moxy is the first hotel we’ve designed around the next generation of travelers, and we have a very strong culture of experimentation with this brand,” says Indy Adenaw, VP of brand consulting at Marriott Hotels. “We first tried to make the entire experience thoughtful, so the traveler feels like we thought about them every step of the journey. We also wanted to make the guest experience very spirited and lively. We want Moxy to be a fun hotel and something you actually draw energy from.”
Adenaw explains that the Moxy brand is all about providing the “Bare Maximum.” The smaller room size, a sole F&B hybrid outlet, smaller staff, and fashionable low-cost furnishings drive rates down. Marriott also collaborated with Ikea to design prefab modular room components built offsite to further save on cost, which is a first for Marriott.
“We are an economy tier but we are going to give you that absolute maximum for what you pay,” says Adenaw. “I can’t emphasize enough how much consumers told us that they were tired of the compromise between style and value. And so we kept on hearing if you can deliver style to me at a price that’s attractive, I will be deeply loyal.”
A big emphasis is placed on multi-zone lobbies that shift from quiet areas to buzzy social scenes around the lobby bar. Internal lingo at Marriott describes the separate-but-connected lobby areas as: “One end talks, one end rocks.” The bar and lounge area will feature DJs and video walls with music and social media messaging, while the quiet side is designed for intimate conversation and chilling out with your devices.
Anchoring the lobbies, the restaurant/bar concept called “The Now” will offer healthy comfort food local to the specific region. A defining characteristic with Moxy is that the restaurant/bar won’t be located “off the lobby”—it is the lobby.
“You would be surprised at how much time we spent just understanding our target guest,” says Adenaw. “Not only from a purely functional standpoint but really what they wanted to emotionally get out of a hotel and the travel experience. And we were surprised at how much they focused on certain things.”
So what exactly did Marriott learn about the Moxy target guest?
“Here’s what we’re hearing: What I want is to be able to get out and see the city,” says Adenaw. “What I want is to be able to go downstairs and have a very lively and energetic bar experience. I want to meet people, I want to be communal. I want to be fiercely independent when I want to be, but also part of a larger community when it’s active and when it’s social.”
That last part is important in terms of personalizing the dual-energy user experience in the lobby. Based on Marriott’s research that next generation, “independent social travelers” want to co-exist in a seamless world shifting between private and public settings, Marriott is leveraging that as one of Moxy’s brand pillars.
Adenaw is optimistic that the brand will also appeal to older generation travelers seeking the same trendy vibe and affordable rates.
“There have been very, very few competitors that we have really admired in this space,” he says. “We have visited a lot of different hotels that we thought might be close, and we have been very surprised that the average guest is clearly not just the Gen X and Gen Y traveler. You will see people in their 50s because they will respond to the attitude and the personality. We expect that to be very much a thing.”
Greg Oates covers hospitality and tourism trends. He’s toured over 1,000 hotels in 50+ countries.