A negative mind might suggest that Marriott is culling young talent for innovative ideas that it can turn around and slap a Marriott logo on; however, the brand deserves credit for going all in on its millenniall-or-bust development strategy.
Marriott International is going after millennials from every angle possible.
Last week it launched a new “food and drink concept lab” called Canvas that may give young travelers one more reason to consider the brand.
Marriott is inviting entrepreneurial chefs to apply for a residence at one of 16 hotels across North America, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. If chosen, the participants can build out and test their food or beverage business ideas in the hotel-based labs.
Marriott plans to invest up to $50,000 in each of the concepts, giving entrepreneurial chefs the ability and space to fully build out their idea.
“It was amazing when we saw this whole new kind of entrepreneurialism and how these people thought about food and beverage,” Lindlbauer describes as part of the research phase.
Concepts will be judged on originality, skill, quality of submission, business plan and ROI and selected by a committee of entrepreneurs and local food, beverage, marketing and finance experts.
To apply, users must submit an online application, a video highlighting their personality, and a fully developed business plan.
The hotel group is not set on a specific outcome at this time, explains said Wolfgang Lindlbauer, Marriott’s global food and beverage executive.
The chefs could continue to operate their concepts at a Marriott hotel under their own name, seek additional funding to create their own restaurant, or fail with one idea and stay at Marriott to test another.
Canvas comes as part of Marriott’s many initiatives to attract and engage millennials.
Marriott launched its “Travel Brilliantly” campaign in June 2013 and has since built on it with a video game that results in rewards points, toured the country with virtual reality headsets, and created its own creative content studio that’s dabbling with a Snapchat strategy.
Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson talked with Skift about millennials’ and Marriott’s values earlier this year.
“What they want is to do business with people and companies that are genuine and authentic. I think that plays right into what Marriott is. We are real about our commitment to our people and our guests, we are real about our involvement in communities, and we partner with other causes that our hotels adopt around the world,” Sorenson said.
“We’re trying to do business in a way that is both, obviously successful, and has a deeper meaning associated with it. That’s something that I think milliennials value as much as, if not more than, older travelers.”
Below is the introduction video for Marriott’s new concept lab:
Have a confidential tip for Skift? Get in touch
Photo credit: The Chicago Marriott O'Hare got creative with its food offerings when it installed a healthy vending machine in its lobby. Farmers' Fridge