Co-creation in the hotel industry – how the Marriott hotel chain is doing it wrong.

 

According to Peelen and Beltman (2013) the definition of co-creation can be read within the word itself, namely: ‘’the creative contribution of more than one person or entity’’. It has many social advantages because people from all different kinds of backgrounds are brought together and it makes people engage to the thing they are co-creating, or the company they are co-creating with. This last reason is why many businesses nowadays find it useful to use co-creation. It can save costs, reduce risks of failure due to low market acceptance, and reduce the high last minute costs that come with the final adaptions to customer needs. But how are hotels using this tool in order to engage their customers?

An example of co-creation is the Starwood’s Marriott Travel Brilliantly initiative. This platform invites guests to submit their ideas and vote on other people’s ideas (Travel Brilliantly, n.d.). However, according to TheCoCreators (2015) the Marriott concept is nothing more than an online suggestion box. While the hospitality industry is the perfect industry for co-creation, since it is focused on interacting with the customer, most of the hotels are not doing a very good job. Hotels are focussing on ad hoc co-creation instead of making it a continuous process within the organization, making it nothing more than a marketing tool.

Based on the DART principles by Prahalad and Ramaswany, Weber (2011) came up with a series of rules and steps to guide the co-creation process. The first step in this process is formulating a precise question. In the case of Marriott hotels they don’t have a clear question. They simply invite their guests to come up with any ideas they might have based on their personal preferences. These ideas could be literally in regards to anything. A good example of co-creation based on a question is the Klaus K design hotel in Helsinki, Finland. This hotel wanted to redecorate, so they asked their customers what they wanted to see (Klaus K Hotel, n.d.).

The next step is proper phasing. The Travel Brilliantly platform clearly shows how customers are involved in the idea generation and selection phase, but after this the company is not so transparent anymore and doesn’t show their customers anything about the following phases. Of course they cannot let everybody test the prototype, but surely they could show their customers how the prototype is being tested via, for example, something simple like YouTube.

The next steps that Weber came up with are rather irrelevant for the customers, or the people helping in the co-creation process. However, the last step, providing feedback, is an important one again. Marriott hotels doesn’t give any feedback to their customers. They let other customers do that for them.

For the Marriott hotels the co-creation stops after customers come up with ideas and vote for the best idea. But don’t the customers deserve to see what happens after? Does the company even use these ideas? Marriot hotels has something in hand that could potentially be turned into something great. They just need to use it more effectively.

References

Co-creating the Hospitality Experience – TheCoCreatorsTheCoCreators | Creating Value with Customers. (2015). Retrieved September 25, 2016, from http://www.thecocreators.com/co-creating-the-hospitality-experience/

Design Hotel in Helsinki | Klaus K Hotel. (n.d.). Retrieved September 26, 2016, from http://www.klauskhotel.com/en/

Peelen, E., & Beltman, R. (2013). The customer proposition. In Customer relationship management (2nd ed., pp. 208 – 213). Edinburgh Gate, United Kingdom: Pearson Education.

Reinvent Marriott Travel | Marriott Travel Brilliantly. (n.d.). Retrieved September 25, 2016, from https://travel-brilliantly.marriott.com/

 

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Published by

Lara Habold

Fourth year International Tourism and Travel Industry student at the NHTV Breda.

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