Skift Take

Extending experiential programming to the youngest travelers is a smart move in more ways than one — and can build brand loyalty for years to come. Is this the new wave of marketing partnerships in hospitality?

Creative hotel partnerships often result in guests being entertained outside of the property’s doors — such as Origin Hotels‘ new Austin location providing guests free access to the nearby children’s museum the Thinkery for their duration of the stay.

But are other hotel companies using partnerships to create more fun in guest rooms?

That’s what Marriott is banking on with the rollout of its new Curiosity Room by TED at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis, TED as in TED Talks. The room prominently features local landmarks and cultural trivia, including information about the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge. Marriott also displays customized riddles and brainteasers in the Curiosity Rooms in San Francisco and its other pilot locations, Bangkok and London. The latter two cities’ Curiosity Rooms open on August 15 and September 15, respectively.

Marriott believes its Curiosity Room will be a major attraction for prospective guests with both the experiential and family travel markets booming. Although themed rooms are not a new concept in hospitality, interest in them has grown substantially. Online searches for themed rooms have increased 106 percent in the last year, according to Marriott’s social marketing platform M Live.

“We are forever changed by the places, cultures, and people we encounter,” said Jason Nuell, Marriott International’s senior vice president of premium brands. “This one-of-a-kind adventure further fosters the notion for our guests to stay curious in their travels.”

The new Curiosity Room is just another part of Marriott’s long-standing relationship with TED. The hotel giant has previously hosted TED Fellows Salon conversations and made TED Talks available on-demand in guest rooms. But those programs largely appealed only to adults.

“What was once primarily business and personal fulfillment focused is now content that appeals to lifelong learners of all ages,” Nuell said about the introduction of TED-Ed content, which provides video-based lessons that vary by subject and age. 

Parents like Robin Perron, a mother of two from Massachusetts, are excited about the new options. Already a big supporter of educational programming in hotels, Perron said she loves thoughtful touches such as the Curiosity Room.

“You have all of these big plans for when you get to someplace, but then you’ve just been driving or flying all day and you’re tired and just want to stay in your room,” the schoolteacher said. She added her husband is onboard due to the opportunity to earn dessert certificates as a prize for solving Curiosity Room challenges.

“This gives you something to actually do instead of just flipping through the TV.”

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Tags: bangkok, marriott, partnerships, san francisco, TED

Photo credit: A Marriott Curiosity Room in San Francisco Marriott