Inside Marriott’s M Beta, a Real-World Hotel Designed for Testing New Concepts

By Kaitlin Milliken, Staff Writer

A real-world “like” button. Marriott installed 19 black and red buttons on the walls around the M Beta hotel, so that guests can provide instant feedback on their experience.

Marriott’s M Beta hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina is imbuing the term “test bed” with new meaning.

Guests who check into the hotel, originally built in 1984 but revamped last year, are immersed in an environment where nearly everything is experimental, and intended to gather feedback. From personalized morning workouts in the gym to chats with the chef at dinnertime, a red button accompanies each innovation and allows customers to immediately respond to their experiences. Marriott then uses that feedback to decide which new ideas they will roll out to other properties around the world.

Innovations in the hotel are frequently rotated, allowing the company to test a wide variety of new technologies and practices.

“The biggest benefit of doing something like M Beta is that it becomes a catalyst that allows you to drive change quickly,” says Matthew Carroll, Vice President and Global Brand Manager of Marriott Hotels. “It allows us as a brand to be more nimble and flexible, based off the immediate feedback and real-world setting.”

According to Carroll, choosing what to test at M Beta can create challenges. Innovations can’t disrupt the hotel’s operating processes, and need to deliver a remarkable experience to the guest. The M Club Lounge, a communal area to access business services and enjoy complimentary food and beverages, was one successful innovation from M Beta that will roll out globally.

Carroll says that integrating customers in the testing process allows Marriott to make innovation a continuous activity at the company — rather than a sporadic thing that happens only when a hotel is renovated.

The constant change in technology evolves how people live, communicate and travel every day,” he says. “This live beta method allows us to innovate at the same speed, which gives us a competitive edge.”

Check out the photo gallery below to see some of the innovations that are currently being tested at Marriott’s M Beta.

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