A test room at the Courtyard by Marriott in Newark, Del., is equipped with everything from waterproof mattresses to the experimental technology of wireless electricity (no plugs) to a specially
designed Nintendo Wii game console for travelers. There is also a digital door display that lets guests see who is in the corridor.
Marriott isn't the only chain with what the lodging
industry calls test rooms or room labs. They help demonstrate what is working and what is not before huge amounts of money are spent on the latest technology. "In the last five years there's been more
research on what the consumer wants than at any time during my 40 years in the industry," says Joseph McInerney, CEO and president of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.
Jannini, EVP for brand management at Marriott, says hotels are moving away from segmenting travelers by price point and are instead grouping people by attitude and lifestyle. And Alison Kal, VP for
marketing at Hyatt, says last year's introduction of a new brand, Hyatt Place, resulted from an effort involving more research than any concept in the company's history. Not only did the company build
a test room, it also built a test hotel in Scottsdale, Ariz.
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