The traditional office has been going mobile for some time. Smartphones and tablets empower workers to make their schedules more flexible, and they let small businesses save hard costs like office rent. But even the most unconventional business has to show their face sometime. For them, Marriott International has created Workspace on Demand to make meetings as easy to book as—well, as a hotel room.
Workspace on Demand is offered at eight hotels in the Marriott Convention & Resort Network, a group of 60 properties that simplify the process of booking meetings and events. It’s powered by the mobile/web app LiquidSpace. The program is the result of research into work styles that Marriott began conducting about two years ago, says Jennifer Hsieh, the hotel company’s vice president of insight, strategy and innovation. Among the findings: a report that 1.3 billion of the world’s workers—almost 40 percent—will be mobile by 2015. “That’s next year,” Hsieh points out. “This whole notion of what a meeting is has totally evolved, and it’s really because our normal kind of work-life balance has changed significantly,” says Hsieh. “It impressed upon us the need to change the way we think about meetings in our hotels.
We began to think about how we can better serve those attendees and meeting planners who come into our hotels. “ Workspace on Demand offers more than 400 spaces, from public areas to small meeting rooms to non-traditional rooms—a tiki hut by the pool, for instance. Planners can use it for up to 50 people; for larger meetings, Marriott offers Quick Groups. Hsieh says it can also work for the planner who’s already running a large corporate meeting and needs small workspaces unexpectedly. “Sometimes a planner will be hosting a very large meeting and they’ll get these little pop-up requests from their affiliates to also hold smaller meetings,” she says. Planners also like having the mundane details of booking covered, Hsieh says: “At the end of the day it’s about making their job easier, to focus on the bigger opportunities and the relationship building and infusing the meeting with creativity.”