Our extensive consumer research of this business
revealed few surprises. It indicated clearly that most travelers in the moderate segment wanted:
□ An attractive, comfortable, functional room.
□ A relaxing, secure environment.
□ A relatively simple restaurant with good food.
TJ A well managed operation with friendly, helpful
□ All at an affordable price.
The research also showed that most moderately
priced hotels and motels in America did not adequately
deliver these benefits. Many travelers in the moderate
segment were dissatisfied.
Therefore, our goal was to design a better product
and support it with a specially designed, integrated
"business system." This "system" would encompass
operations, marketing, procurement, management information systems and management development.
By mid-1981, the team had developed the basic concept framework for the product:
□ Courtyard would be a tightly focused product
which targeted transients, not groups, in the moderate
□ The hotel would be 150 rooms or less, to maintain a residential feel and facilitate development in small
pockets of demand.
□ It would serve a limited breakfast, lunch and
□ Courtyard would be a standardized product managed in "clusters," using computerization and market management teams to reduce operating costs and simplify
property management tasks.
Next, our architectural design and consumer research
groups worked jointly to develop, test and refine the
product. We borrowed from our experience and research
in the luxury end of the market. Dozens of room sizes and
layouts were tested to create a room with the feeling of
distinct areas for sleeping, working, relaxing and bathing/
We found product features could be simple if they
were well executed. These included individual room climate controls, large workable desks, phones usable at bed
and desk, inside corridors and stairs, and extra security
By early 1982, consumer research indicated that our
prototype had strong appeal, but we were not satisfied
with the projected staffing levels and investment costs.
The project team worked to simplify design, construction
and operations. Unit investment levels and staffing hours
were reduced by an additional 25%, with minimal impact
on guest areas. Further research confirmed that this was
an appealing and very competitive product for the middle
In May 1982, the Board of Directors approved a test
market consisting of five units in Georgia. The markets
were carefully selected to maximize our learning about the
product. We wanted to go against strong competitors and
to test the product's appeal in a variety of site and market
Marriott's hotel development resources have been
used in the project, in anticipation of favorable test market
results. The process of evaluating expansion markets and
selecting sites is underway.
Performance of the initial units, which opened in
October 1983, has met our expectations. Moreover, we
continue to search for opportunities to further reduce
investment as well as strengthen product appeal.
Other Business Development
Courtyard is more than a new product in a test
market. It reflects our management process and commitment to the development of new businesses within the
This process begins with a climate which encourages
"product champions." Peter Drucker has observed,
"Money does not produce innovations; people do." We
have a small group of full-time product champions within
Marriott, and are working hard to create an environment
in which anyone can feel free to propose a new idea.
The company spends several million dollars annually
on research and development for new business opportunities. Dozens of reasonable business propositions are analyzed in depth for every one or two that ultimately will be
The process requires close, frequent interaction
between each product development team and senior operating management. Planning at Marriott is not an "ivory
For competitive reasons, Marriott's policy is not to
publicly discuss products under development. But beyond
Courtyard, dozens of ideas have been carefully analyzed
in the last two years. Several are in advanced stages of
development. They promise to make a material contribution to our profitability during the 1990s.