Co-creating in the hotel industry, the principles and a real-life case on how to approach it.

Engage the customer in the development process through co-creation has many benefits. Co-creating saves costs and will reduces the time to market. Furthermore, it will reduce risks of failure due to low market acceptance and the need for expensive last-minute adaptations to customer needs is also reduced, since the potential users have already been brought on board in the early stages. Research has proven that organisations who involve users in an active role during the innovation process are more successful than organisations that do not. Many reasons to start co-creating! (Peelen & Beltman, 2013)

Hospitality is all about interaction with customers it makes an ideal environment for co-creation. – Pieters, 2015

The DART principles of Co-Creation

An explanation by Peelen and Beltman (2013)

D – Dialogue: Really engaging in dialogue goes well beyond speaking and listening. It involves interactiv- ity; commitment; dedication of attention and resources; caring for each other’s interests; and having a genuine intention to act.

A – Acces: Opening up each other’s world permits faster, more efficient and better solutions to problems, as well as more engaging and meaningful experiences.

R – Risk: We are used to stressing only the positive aspects of marketing propositions and communications, but in this situation, it is essential that all risk is honestly and freely addressed. It is one of the core principles of the co-creative process.

T – Transparency: Transparency is another precondition for co-creation success. While consumers are generally well motivated to participate if they see the co-creation process as being mutually beneficial, they lose that motivation if they feel that the process will only benefit the company.

Steps to guide the co-creation process

Weber (2011) has used the DART principle among others to construct a series of rules and a sequencing of steps to guide the co-creation process. We will take a look at these steps with the example of Marriotts platform Travel Brilliantly.

A precise question (Dialogue, Access)

Although Weber (2011) states that “successful co-creation starts with formulating one central question because an overload of ideas and suggestions made timely processing hard. The vague outline produced vague responses, making it hard to distinguish between good and bad ideas.” Marriott has chosen another approach; with their online platform they allow co-creators to submit ideas in a wide range of categories. To make the distinguish between good and bad ideas easier, Marriot created a voting system where other participant can vote for the ideas they like best.

Proper phasing (Dialogue)

Marriott allows their participant to vote on each other ideas by one simple click. Ideas are online for voting one year and by the end of every year a team of specialists reviews the ideas with the most votes. After each year, one or multiple ideas are assessed and used within one of multiple Marriott hotels.

Involving the right people (Dialogue, Risk)

“During the idea generation phase, it can be interesting to include a number of people from a wide variety of backgrounds. However, as soon as it comes to prototyping and testing, the number of people involved will need to be more limited and their background more classically oriented towards the requisite expert knowledge.” (Peelen & Beltman, 2013) Marriott is following this example by allowing everyone to submit and vote for ideas during the first phase but when an idea is being executed they test it only on selected customers and hotels.

Choosing the right format (Dialogue, Access)

By organizing their co-creation process online, it allows guest from all over the world to feel involved and to interact with each other. Making it more likely from them that ideas generated through this process are going to be accepted in different markets.

Motivating properly (Dialogue, Access, Transparency)

Motivating your participant is key to the success of your co-creating process. In Marriott’s case their competition model is motivating participant to come up with their best idea in order to win. As a general rule, quantity should not be rewarded when the goal is quality.

Deploying appropriate techniques (Dialogue, Access)

The modern technique used by Marriott is the first step in their process to innovation. With this website with voting system, in combination with all the promotion made, they have showed that they right choice in technique makes all the difference.

Providing feedback (Dialogue, Access, Risk, Transparency)

In Marriott’s case feedback is mainly given by other people involved in the co-creating. Hereby people motivate each other to rethink their given input or even motivate them to also submit their own ideas. Final feedback is given by Marriott expert while they select a yearly winner.


Marriott’s Travel Brilliancy has brought Marriott more than just the ideas they have been provided with. It was used as a marketing tool to re-establish them as an innovative and modern company. Which is just one of the many benefits a hotel can have from co-creation. So why wait, when you can co-create?


Marriott International. (2016). Mariott Travel Brilliantly. Retrieved from Mariott Travel Brilliantly:

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer relationship management. Pearson Education Limited.

Pieters, M. (2015, January 8). Co-creating the Hospitality Experience. Retrieved from LinkedIn:

Vivion, N. (2013, June 17). Marriott steps (un)squarely into Starwood territory with rebrand and co-creation platform. Retrieved from Tnooz:



3 thoughts on “Co-creating in the hotel industry, the principles and a real-life case on how to approach it.”

  1. Thank you for your reaction Richard. I agree with you that trust is an interesting topic in this digital era. I believe that gaining trust can help a company to differentiate themselves from others.


  2. Nice use of the DART framework with Marriott. Your article is easy to follow and I’m convinced by your evidence. Overall, the layout is well arranged with a motivating last sentence. I also liked the reference to Transparency as it can help improve TRUST, which is a really interesting issue to discuss in the current digital era.


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