Delivering Authentic Food and Beverage Experiences for Millennials

The Challenge

As one of the world’s largest hotel companies, Marriott International has a global presence with 4,000 properties across 80 countries. But, with the rise of businesses like Airbnb and boutique hotel properties, the rules of engagement in hospitality are changing faster than most large companies are equipped to react to efficiently.

Many of these changes have been driven by Millennials, who are 25% of the travellers but only 6% of the Marriott guests. Millennials are on route to exceed Baby Boomer spending power by 2020, and only 20% have reached their peak earning years. Winning the hearts and minds of Millennials through local food and beverage outlets today was mission critical to getting their travel dollars down the road in their peak travel years.

To achieve that, Marriott needed to make its Food & Beverage offering more dynamic and authentic. Given that Marriott is a global business built on consistency, and many Millennials look for small, local and unique, this was a significant challenge.

We asked the question: How can Marriott use their scale to innovate and create new relevance with Millennial travelers through their F&B offerings?

The Key Insight

A new innovation driven platform was needed. But for a complex global operation with legacy metrics, diverging performance across regions and entrenched processes, an outside-in and inside-out approach was required. We needed to bring best practice and deep insight from outside the organization, while anchoring the approach in the realities of the business, its operations, its people and its needs.

We worked with Marriott to align, train and mobilize F&B leadership and operations across four continents towards a new Innovation Playbook to source, launch and run locally relevant, distinctive food and beverage experiences.

One of the marquee elements of this Innovation Playbook was developing Canvas: a first-of-its-kind global incubator that matches up-and-coming F&B talent with restaurant and bar spaces throughout the global Marriott portfolio. Young chefs, bartenders and entrepreneurs are given the support and resources to turn their F&B concepts into their own bars and restaurants‚ÄĒall with the support of Marriott‚Äôs funding, relationships, depth of talent and physical spaces.

The Outcome

Launched in 2015, a mere eight months after starting their engagement with us, Marriott properties in London, Dubai, and Shenzhen debuted Canvas concept bars and restaurants‚ÄĒshowcasing the agile entrepreneurship and regional relevance of local hospitality innovation to the scale of Marriott‚Äôs international footprint.

A further five locations launched in the first half of 2016, and an additional 18 are currently in development. Phase 1 concepts have shown the potential to deliver over 100 % ROI within 2 months and to outperform all key F&B metrics by at least 1.5x.

Canvas represents a powerful step change for Marriott, integrating new metrics, new operational requirements and a global shift in how and from whom F&B concepts are sourced. Our engagement led to the formation of a global F&B leadership team‚ÄĒsomething that hadn‚Äôt existed before‚ÄĒthat met every two weeks to share learnings and insights about the program. Canvas injected a spirit of entrepreneurialism and knowledge sharing between continents that started a global conversation about strategic priorities and helped Marriott leverage its scale to a real advantage.

"The insights [the team] uncovered, and the subsequent strategic work, galvanized a global team. I found their approach inspiring & practical."
Tim Sheldon, EVP Global Operations, Marriott
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