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August 8, 2014
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How Marriott is Adapting Technology and F&B for Events




Andrew Moffett

Two of the most rapidly changing elements of the meetings and events scene are technology and food & beverage (otherwise known as F&B)—and hotels are actively seeking to stay on top of new expectations and trends. Andrew Moffett, ‎senior director, global discipline leader, events at Marriott International, told International Meetings Review that the company’s properties were regularly adapting their event venues and kitchens to stay on the cusp and ahead of the game in both fields.  

Technology

“I think technology is going to continue to change the way we hold meetings,” Moffett said noting the increased popularity of hybrid events for both physical and virtual attendees. To that end, he said, Marriott is seeking to adapt its event spaces for new demands. When a team is designing a new hotel or renovation, he explained, they have to consider the new needs of event planners. “How are we building...those hotels to work on behalf of the meeting attendee or the meeting planner?” he asked rhetorically. 

“What we've recently accomplished is a new set of event space design standards for our hotels that will impact new-builds,” he continued. “We are giving direction as to how that meeting space should be either constructed or redesigned.” 

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For example, Marriott is installing technology that allows the company to brand the space more easily for the customer. “Branding is a big thing that our events want. [When a] pharmaceutical company is launching a new product, they are going to want to brand and market that space.” Windows that can be easily decorated with clings and lighting systems that can project logos and images onto walls are increasingly expected by planners, Moffett said. 

Food & Beverage

Hotels must also be up-to-date on the latest diet trends, and have kitchens that can quickly adapt to any demand from planners or event attendees.  “Think of how gluten-free diets have just exploded,” Moffett noted. “We are making sure that this is in our public strategy--and I'm not just talking gluten-free, but all of these food trends.” The hotel culinary teams have been designing menus based on “the attributes and needs of the meeting attendees” and the meeting planner, Moffett said. “Chef gardens will be a trend, still,” he predicted. “Chefs want to grow and cultivate their own food. And...how fun is it to have a great herb garden and be able to talk about that during the site visit about how you use those in all of your cocktails or your food items?”

In terms of beverages, he added, the hotels have seen a growing trend of taps used for wine or even mixed drinks. “We are looking at ways to implement this into our event space,” Moffett said. “More and more wineries are coming out with ‘keg wine’ [or] wine that is in barrels and taps that you can retrofit to a bar to give wine on tap.  

“The technology that these companies have gone through to get this right has really been astounding,” he said, acknowledging that the very concept of wine on tap evokes an image of a low-grade, mass-produced product. “That's not the case these days. This is a growing trend that's just kind of on the cusp of getting bigger—and the same with cocktails. One trend we're looking at is ‘batching’ cocktails for speed-of-service during an event...using tried-and-true recipes that give great quality, great balance, and a great experience for the customer, building in efficiency and service without jeopardizing quality.”  F&B innovations like these can speed up drink service at large-scale events, he noted, making the overall experience less stressful for everyone.  

These innovations, however, are still in the testing phase, although Moffett did attend a recent Marriott event that served wine from a tap. “It was very good,” he said. “I was a believer after that.”

Of course, he cautioned, no hotel wants to sacrifice quality for convenience, especially when bringing high-level groups together. The quality of food and beverages the hotel serves to event attendees should be on par with what leisure guests get in the property’s restaurants. “We want to be able to give our customers a great food and beverage experience no matter how big their event is within that event itself.”


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About the Author: Jena Tesse Fox

Jena Tesse Fox


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