Redesigned Courtyard Lobby Experience for Marriott

Reinvigorating a brand experience for evolving business travelers

With 3,000 properties in more than 65 countries, Marriott International is one of the world’s leading hoteliers. Considered inventors of the business hotel category, Marriott’s Courtyard Hotels faced increasing competition from an influx of new players, such as Hyatt Place and the W’s new venture, Aloft, which offer similar accommodations for this emerging class of business travelers.

After the success of the IDEO-inspired TownePlace Suites lobby and guestroom redesign, Marriott asked IDEO to work alongside its branding agency—McGarryBowen—to reimagine and reinvigorate the public spaces in their Courtyard hotels. IDEO’s ethnographic approach, coupled with McGarryBowen’s traditional market research, led to similar conclusions: the current Courtyard experience was stagnant and customer satisfaction ratings were slipping as business travelers become savvier and more discerning about their experiences and options. These findings, plus insights gathered during observations, led the team to craft to five guest-enabling brand principles: focus on working smarter and anticipating needs; instill pro-activity to let personality shine; enable guests to feel comfortable in public spaces using subtle gestures; provide options and a sense of control; and aim to help guests feel refreshed, refueled, and recharged.

Brand directions were expressed through inviting lobby designs that inject fun, style, and functionality into the business traveler’s experience. A large, localized screen called a “Go Board” provides easy access to such relevant information for guests as weather, traffic conditions, local restaurant recommendations, and flight information. Dedicated boarding pass print stations allow guests to head to their next destination prepared. A redesigned cafe with three modes of service provides an inviting place to eat, offering healthier, modern food throughout the day and a lively atmosphere for cocktails in the evening. Welcome podiums replace the antiquated and alienating check-in desks to allow for more direct and personable interactions between staff and guests. Flexible seating and work areas allow guests to easily move furniture for a variety of uses.

According to Brian King, VP, Global Brand Manager for Courtyard, “This new lobby has been so well received by customers. The next step is to roll this out across 700 hotels across the world.”

Project date: 2008