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 startups are Twistar, a smart customer feedback device that analyses guest’s actions and voice for real-time insights. Unified Inbox, a platform that allows guests to communicate with smart devices using their preferred messaging apps, via text and voice, and Beachill, an eco-friendly, solar-powered beach mattress that can charge guests’ mobile devices and keep their drinks cool.
Startups were also able to grasp key information pertaining to the Marriott Hotels brand, and learn how to set their objectives, in addition to the goals and solutions each of their products will be offering to Marriott Hotels. They also learned about the best channels to address and target guests to reach an optimal experience and satisfaction, which they will be demonstrating and testing in the coming days.
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.”
“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. 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 a 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,” explained Guy Kedar, head of innovation at wavemaker.
The first edition of TestBED in the Middle East came beyond expectations. “We have received nearly 200 applications. We did not expect it,” Schulze-Potgieter commented.
The acceleration phase is expected to be completed by February 6. Afterwards, and based on the result each product achieves within the hotels, Marriott Hotels will be deciding whether to continue partnering with any of them for a longer term relationship, and to implement their inventions within the chain’s hotel amenities.