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The Hotel Test Lab

By Chuckmonster on Monday, 5th October 2015 5:17pm
  » filed under Awesome!  comments: 3


The Wall Street Journal visited the hotel room test lab at the headquarters of Marriott Hotels to learn how they design their hotels.

The primary tool Marriott uses to design their hotel rooms is data. They survey all of their guests guests every year as well as after each trip and also conduct a larger survey of a select group of high frequency travelers every five years to take their temperature about hotel offerings and amenities. They take this data, contract with interior designers and build sample hotel rooms in their in-house hotel laboratory. The then invite power users to try these rooms out, recording their reactions and use patterns for later study. The data is culled, analyzed and adjustments are made.

What we don't see is the designer impresario, armed with panache, style and unquantifiable experience making aesthetic decisions based on gut, eye and feeling. In some ways, Marriott is the Google of hotels... data driven, scientific and meticulous.

I have never heard of Las Vegas hotels in-house design teams doing this degree of data driven testing. I know Caesars used to send out tons of surveys about offerings and branding, but not about specific hotel amenities or design choices. I have never heard from guests being invited to test hotel rooms that weren't located in the hotel, but I have heard reports of guests staying in one-off sample hotel rooms that contained non-standard furnishings and test designs.

Wynn Resorts Hotel Design Mock Up Building

Both Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts have in house design teams that are constantly mocking up and testing new hotel room designs. Wynn's hotel lab is located in a canary yellow building behind the Sands Expo center at the intersection of Koval and Westchester. It is in this building that Wynn has mocked up full scale versions of various casino layouts and full compliment of hotel offerings. Next time you go by this building, if you look hard, you can see all sorts of ginormous Roger Thomas designed pottery reflecting in the very dark tinted windows.

It is only a matter of time before the major upheaval caused by mobile technology completely transforms the very definition of a hotel room. With guests now comfortable working on laptops, tablets and phones, the need for a dedicated desk has essentially vanished for younger travelers. It wasn't all that long ago when all higher tier Las Vegas hotel rooms contained full desks and dedicated inkjet printers!

Marriott data also shows that guests don't unpack their suitcases when they arrive. I never unpack my suitcases. In fact, I do the opposite. I try and keep my stuff as I can inside my bags at all times, it makes checking out a breeze and I don't lose/forget stuff. The only time I open the drawers in a hotel room is to take photos of the bibles.

If you have a problem accessing this article through the WSJ paywall click here.


Comments & Discussion:

Im guessing MGM properties do this too, but inside the building? We saw that one wing on the 29th floor of Monte Carlo is all done up and the 22nd floor on Mandalay Bay was there before the current remodel.

I don't see desks going away from hotel rooms anytime soon. I think what we will start seeing desks that slide out or drop down from a dresser or other piece of furniture in the room (Think something like a secretary desk.). These desk surfaces are smaller than what you typically see and ideally sized for a laptop or tablet.

Been part of the Marriott focus groups; they're interesting. Never part of the overnight stays.

Used to travel frequently; my two go-to brands are Westins (Starwood) and Marriott. Never the most glamorous, always clean, comfy, and relatively nice enough to lay your head for a few days.

The difference is, most Marriott residents are like me. Stuck in Las Colinas (Dallas) for a week, looking for a comfy bed, hot shower, room service, and proximity to office/airport. Vacations (Wynn) are different; I try for boutique hotels in unique destinations, and go for less of a "product", more of an experience. It's why I stayed at the Imperial Palace the first time I came to Vegas (or I was a recently divorced, had no idea how bad it was, on a guy trip for a week.)
It's just a different product for a different customer at a different time... It's like a bear-claw from a vending machine, or a pastry from Payard; both are "danish." Kinda.

As an aside; the Wynn still can't match the smell of the IP. Not sure much can.... God, I miss that property.

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