Marriott TestBED bootcamp: Startups are on their marks to start real-life testing

During one of the bootcamp sessions (Image via Wamda).

The Marriott TestBED bootcamp which took place at Marriott Al Jaddaf, Dubai, came to end November 29. Throughout the three-day workshops, the three participating startups received various training and planned the 10-week acceleration programme where they will be piloting their products in three Marriott hotel properties in the UAE.

The three startups are:

  • Twistar, a smart customer feedback device that analyses guest’s actions and voice for real-time insights.
  • Unified Inbox, a platform that that allows guests to communicate with smart devices using their preferred messaging apps, via text and voice.
  • Beachill, an eco-friendly, solar-powered beach mattress that can charge guests’ mobile devices and keep their drinks cool.

During the workshop, the three startups were given a complete overview on Marriott Hotels brand. Furthermore, they were trained on setting objectives, goals and solutions for each of their products, the best channels to address and target guests for optimal experience and satisfaction.

Sandra Schulze-Potgieter, vice president of premium and select brands, Middle East & Africa at Marriott International said: "We have three very dynamic teams and a lot of brilliant ideas. They are all not afraid, which is very important if you are a startup.” She added: “For the next step, we are looking forward for them to test in a real life environment, to work with us and see where they can help us solve problems and challenges at hotels to enhance the guest experience."

Guy Kedar, head of innovation at wavemaker, said: "These innovative startups offer solutions in different parts of Marriott Hotels, from guest rooms to the entire guest experience including various amenities such as restaurants and swimming pools." He explained that the acceleration programme is going to be very intensive and will focus on three areas: Mentorship and training, where the startups will have access to Marriott executives who will be teaching them the secrets of the hospitality sector, and how to scale up their businesses in addition to providing them with business advice. Second, the pilot itself, which is the main pillar of TestBED to see how their products fits within the environment to learn what should be tweaked and what should be added or changed, and the third part is fame, "as we are documenting every part of the pilot and disseminating this content to the media so startups will become well known among stakeholders and the public."

The first edition of TestBED in the Middle East surpassed expectations. "We have received nearly 200 applications. We did not expect it," Schulze-Potgieter commented.

The 10-week acceleration programme is expected to be completed by February 6. Based on the performance of the three startups, Marriott Hotels may extend the partnership and implement their inventions within the group.  

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