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Future in Mind

Julius Robinson, SVP and Global Brand Leader for Marriott, Sheraton and Delta Hotels, offers a glimpse into what’s ahead for Marriott’s premium brands

BT:  We’re here at the iconic Sheraton Cairo Hotel & Casino, where you’ve just unveiled a complete overhaul. In fact the entire Sheraton brand is poised for a total makeover. Tell us how that fits into the Marriott family of brands.

ROBINSON:  Sheraton is one of the largest brands in the new Marriott portfolio. In fact, it represented more than 50 percent of revenues for Starwood, and is currently the most global Marriott family brand since it is in more countries than any other in the portfolio.

BT:  Sheraton pioneered the lobby-level co-working space with Link@Sheraton, providing Internet-equipped computers, meeting areas and printers. As business travelers, how can we look forward to that evolving over the coming years? 

ROBINSON:  Many of our Sheraton properties are at “the corner of Main and Main” – that is to say they are in central and iconic locations of their destinations. We want Sheraton lobbies to be a gathering space with a “town square” atmosphere. This means that guests can meet with local clients or colleagues in the lobby without the need for making a restaurant reservation or booking a meeting room. The next iteration of Sheraton will include more high-tech services like Access by Sheraton in public areas where guests can order drinks or make special requests from staff in addition to Link@Sheraton facilities.

BT:  Your flagship brand Marriott has been on a mission to “leave guests motivated and inspired with their travels.” How does TED Talks play into that?

ROBINSON:  We are committed to developing exclusive TED Talks content around the idea of travel and entrepreneurship to appeal to our guest market. This can mean anything from live hotel events to streaming TED Talks in many of our hotel gyms and guest rooms. Of course, all this content and more is available in guest rooms via the TV, the app or WiFi.

BT:  The M Club is your executive lounge concept. How is this evolving and what’s that going to mean for frequent Marriott guests?

ROBINSON:  Our research shows that Marriott is the brand where guests are especially invested in earning points and receiving loyalty program benefits. With 110 million Marriott Rewards members, they are also willing to pay more for that opportunity. Over 50 percent of guests are extremely likely to consider a hotel with an M Club, according to our studies.

We have recently beefed up our M Club offering by moving many of them to the lobby level to allow for better catering from restaurant chefs. As a club lounge, we want it to be a more immersive experience and are considering the addition of pop-up entertainment or educational programing and the idea of making it available to guests 24 hours a day. Also new are our mind tonics with natural ingredients designed to give you a boost for the day.