Designing future-ready hotels: Marriott Global Design Asia Pacific Confluence 2019 by Michael Wang
Hotel owners, developers, project heads, architects and interior designers, and consultants, gathered to familiarise themselves with the innovations in hotel design
What was it all about?
Hotelier India associated with Marriott International to put together an annual congregation that deliberated best practices, innovations and profits in the field of hospitality design. Reminiscent of the first edition of the 'Marriott Global Design - Asia Pacific Confluence' that took place in Mumbai in 2018, the second edition was hosted in New Delhi on July 30, 2019, at JW Marriott Aerocity.
Designed to be a day-long workshop headed by Michael Wang, senior continent head of Global Design Asia Pacific - Marriott International, the confluence aimed at addressing state-of-the-art design trends to help the Indian hospitality sector professionals build efficient, smart and future-ready hotels.
Meet our sponsoring partners
The confluence was partnered by Asian Paints Ltd, Astral Pool, Boon Edam, Everest Industries, Gras I, Harman Professional Solutions, LG Corporation, Maspar, Square Foot, Swastik Synergy, Samsung, S&T, Toto, VBev and Wang Professionals.
The organisers open the event
Gurmeet Sachdev, publishing director - Hotelier India, opened the event with a short address that welcomed the attendees, introduced the crux of the event and hoped it would offer valuable insights through the day.
"Despite the upward growth of the hospitality industry, India is at a nascent stage of delivering the best of the foremost, and very crucial, aspect of hotel development — design. I believe good design is the 'key' to a successful hotel, as it drives profit," Sachdev strongly stated. She reiterated that it is imperative for us to build hotels in accordance with the ever-evolving dynamics of trends, technology and cost.
Vikram Choubal, vice president- project management, Global Design Asia Pacific at Marriott International, took the spotlight to thank and welcome the delegates, guests and partners. He briefly talked about Marriott’s presence as a leading global hotel brand and pointed out the sustainable practices integral to the Marriott Asia Pacific business
Know the speaker - Michael Wang
Michael Wang has been with Marriott International for 23 years and is currently responsible for design and project management-related activities for the group's portfolio of 30 brands (luxury, premium and select) in the Asia Pacific region. Wang is also responsible for the development and execution of strategies to effectively respond to the changing development and business needs of Marriott International brands in the region.
Wang’s basic focus at the workshop was to familiarise the attendees with Marriott brands and democratise all the critical design information to empower the hospitality fraternity to tailor better hotels. He began the session by outlining the 30 Marriott hotel brands — 7,000 hotels worldwide spread across 110 countries — categorised under ‘Classic’ & ‘Distinctive’ and further classified as ‘Luxury’, ‘Premium’ and ‘Select’ within each category. While addressing Marriott’s driving innovation practices — SPG Loyalty program, Moxy Hotels, M live, IoT guestroom design, prototype design, Marriott/E-Cornell hotel design courses, hotel design workshops, etc., Wang strongly mentioned, “Innovation is not an option anymore.”
Big data is an enabler that offers multiple insights into customer behaviour and preferences, only to let hoteliers adjust faster, believes Wang. “Combining marketing, sales, customer data, transactional data and social conversations to identify correlation and causation can help us make more accurate decisions,” he highlighted. He touched upon virtual and augmented reality by talking about the Virtual Reality mock-up room launched by Marriott for speeding up the design process.
In the next segment, Wang went on to explain the key points of Marriott’s global design process to deliberate how a hotel project is put together. With Marriott, the GDAP Project Manager becomes the single source of contact between the owner’s rep and other disciplines such as design, MEP, IT, security and CLS to attain a smooth flow. He talked about Marriott’s internal ‘Facilities Criteria Cheat Sheet’ that they use as a checklist for facility management of the different brands. “We also follow a ‘hotel roadmap’ that constitutes the various steps to be taken to make sure a hotel project falls into place in time. It streamlines the different milestones of the project and dictates the working of the various stakeholders involved in it,” Wang explained while presenting snapshots from the documents.
As part of the Hotel Design 101 guide, Wang led the attendees through the various factors to consider while making decisions about site planning, access design, traffic circulation, F&B, business centres, banquet displays, WC, FLS, vertical transportation, ceiling heights, corridor widths, guestrooms, lounges, BOH and staffing of any hotel project. To illustrate the whole hotel planning system better with live examples, he showcased design instances from Le Meridien Taipei, Taiwan; Shenzhen Bay Port, Kuala Lumpur Damansara and Melbourne Docklands MHR.
The workshop allowed delegates to network with fellow attendees and explore the product offerings showcased by the industry partners.
Vikram Choubal, vice president - project management - Global Design Asia Pacific, Marriott International
“Land cost and approvals, building and site improvements, interiors and furniture expenditure and operating supplies largely consist of the ‘hard cost’, while the ‘soft cost’ consists of pre-opening expenses and working capital, finances, legal consultants, development and overheads,” Choubal explained. “All the development cost components, including the key cost drivers involved, from the procurement to the hand-over stage, must be considered and managed to avoid delays and risks."
What needs to be done, then.
• The design and area ratio needs to be followed for the optimum design solution and budget costing.
• Realistic budget targets need to be fixed, considering key cost drivers.
• The hotel development cost ratio needs to be referred to while finalising the cost.
• Proper escalation/contingency plans need to be provided while budgeting for the project.
• The project risks need to be reviewed and mitigated/managed on an on-going basis.
Snippets from the panel discussion with the South Asia Marriott team
Vikram Choubal, vice president - project management, Global Design Asia Pacific, Marriott International
“Marriott has been delivering good quality projects to its owners, thanks to our empanelled designers and consultants. Deep monitoring and micro-management of every design stage of the project, starting from the development to operation, helps us deliver hotels that stand out from the rest.”
Kiran Andicot, vice president – development, South Asia, Marriott International
“The ownership of an asset and management of that asset are two separate businesses for us. This way, we ensure we deliver the best to our owners. At the end of the day, it has to be a win-win relationship between the hotel owners and operators.”
Sanjay Sharma, market vice president - North India, Bhutan & Nepal, Marriott International
“Design is a key factor in properly managing any property after the hand-over. The area allocations, BOH and FOH layouts, flow planning, engineering, etc. needs to be done correctly for the operators to run the project smoothly afterwards. This also adds to the profit and ROI, thereby making it easier to manage costs as promised to the owners. The concept is very simple — if we are strong with our processes and people, the result will automatically be strong.”
Aniruddh Kumar, vice president - asset management - South Asia, Marriott International
“As asset managers, we need to monitor the quality and quantity of the pipeline beginning day one. While focusing on reducing future risks, we constantly try to maximise the value of and protect the management contract. Furthermore, critical situations such as a change in the facility, property expansion, disagreements and contract renewals need to be dealt with care to make up to the owner’s expectations and salvage the relation.”