Q: What is the growth plan for the region?
A: The Pacific region, including Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, New Caledonia and Samoa, is a key area in terms of growth for Marriott International. Currently we have 29 properties in operation across the region, with a further 20 under construction. We are on track to grow to 50 hotels across 14 brands by 2020. Marriott International’s development pipeline in the Pacific spans all market segments from mid-scale to luxury. In June 2018, for example, we opened W Brisbane, the first new-build 5-star hotel to open in the city’s CBD in 20 years, followed by Four Points by Sheraton Auckland, Marriott International’s first property in New Zealand. This will be followed by Four Points by Sheraton Sydney, Central Park in August and The Westin Brisbane will open in November. We are also exploring secondary and regional markets with the recent signings of Four Points by Sheraton Parramatta, The Westin Resort & Spa Coolum and The Westin Darwin.
Q: Initiatives such mobile check-out have been rolled out – how else is technology changing the guest experience?
A: Marriott International is committed to innovation in technology, to streamline and personalise the guest experience. As part of this commitment, we’ve partnered with leading tech companies Samsung and Legrand to launch the hospitality industry’s first Internet of Things (IoT) hotel room. The technology inside the IoT Guestroom Lab allows, for instance, a user to ask a virtual assistant for a 6:30am wake-up alarm, to start a yoga routine on a full-length mirror, request additional housekeeping services and start the shower at the desired temperature stored in their customer profile, all by voice or app. In uniting with these best-in-class partners, we’re able to leverage mobile and voice-enabled technology to give guests the ability to set up their room to best meet their needs.
Q: How is Marriott helping the event sector in its needs?
A: At Marriott International we have studied the way planners engage with hotels when they organise events, to understand what the challenges are and how we can support them along their journey. From this research, we’ve found that planners are hungry for inspiration and expert tips to help keep their events fresh and exciting. So, we launched Meetings Imagined, an online platform, modelled on Pinterest.com, where planners can access tips on everything related to meetings, including networking activities, maximising social media exposure and how to create the right meeting environment. Meetings Imagined also includes the latest meeting trends and hundreds of inspirational images to spark creativity. We know too that technology continues to be an important aspect for all events. Marriott’s Meeting Services App is very popular; it enables planners to connect directly with the events team and make real-time requests for things like tech support, coffee refills or room temperature changes.
Q: What is on the cards for loyalty program members?
A: We are expanding our Marriott Moments experiential offering. Currently, through our Marriott Rewards Moments and SPG Moments online marketplaces, members can redeem points for over 8000 different travel experiences around passion points like music, sports, culinary and culture. Currently, experiences range from destination tours and day trips like shark cage diving in Gansbaai, South Africa, to once-in-a-lifetime events like exclusive member concerts, VIP experiences to coveted sports events like the Super Bowl and hands-on master classes and meet & greets with some of the world’s top athletes, musicians and chefs. We’re expecting to add a further 110,000 new Moments in 1000 destinations for members to experience.
Q: What new brands are you most excited about opening in Australia?
A: Over the next two years to 2020, we’ll see the re-introduction of four of our luxury and upper upscale brands including The Luxury Collection, W Hotels, The Ritz-Carlton and Le Meridien. We’ll also debut Marriott International’s eco-wise Element brand, which is one of our select-service brands. I’m pleased to say we are on track to boast the largest portfolio of upper upscale and luxury brands and properties across the Pacific region. Our robust pipeline includes The-Ritz Carlton Perth, which will open in 2019 and The Ritz-Carlton Melbourne in 2020; W Melbourne will open in 2020; and The Luxury Collection will open The Tasman in 2019, marking Marriott International’s debut in Tasmania. Australia is doing a fantastic job of driving interest in the luxury segment by showcasing the premium product and experiences available here, but, across the board in this market, demand is still outweighing the hotel product available. We expect new luxury hotel supply to come into the market progressively over the next three to five years, and that this supply will be well absorbed and encourage further development.