Marriott Hotels' TestBed Accelerator Seeks Innovation In Hospitality Sector

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Hospitality major Marriott Hotels has kicked off the second edition of its TestBED accelerator program in the Middle East & Africa region to “find cutting edge technologies that can transform [their] guest experience.” Launched in association with Wamda in the region, TestBED is a 10-week accelerator giving startups with a product/solution for the hospitality industry, an opportunity to test their idea within an operating Marriott property in the region. As a “zero cash, zero equity” program in nature, Marriott Hotels believes that the best part about such an accelerator is that “entrepreneurs can learn from us, and we can learn from them- combining their agility and creativity with our tools and hospitality expertise [that] could be a powerful force in enhancing guest experience.”

Open to both seed and early-stage startups with products or services that are ready to pilot in a hotel environment, the program (that does not offer startups cash, nor does it ask for equity) gives your startup the opportunity to pass the critical proof of concept stage, gaining user feedback from guests and associates. Along with marketing training, the program also includes mentoring sessions from a range of travel and hospitality experts. Speaking about a key challenge that the accelerator hopes to solve, Sandra Schulze-Potgieter, Vice President, Premium and Select Brands - MEA, Marriott International, says that while they seek technologies that help solve any operational challenge, linguistic challenges is one that stands out as quite common in the region’s hospitality space. Hence, she hopes that one of the Marriott's TestBED applicants “come up with a language support technology,” that can ease the experience of a global traveler in this regard. "We are focusing on enhancing the guest experience, and solving operational challenges by easing processes, being accessible via a touch on your mobile and minimizing waiting time while ensuring you have the latest technologies in your hotels while travelling," says Schulze-Potgieter.

Sandra Schulze-Potgieter, Vice President, Premium and Select Brands - MEA, Marriott International.Image credit:Marriott Hotels.
The basic set of criteria that your startup needs to meet to be a part of the travel and hospitality accelerator is to be a for-profit business with a product or a service that focuses on enhancing “Marriott Hotels’ in-room experience, transforming the overall guest stay and F&B experience in and outside the hotels, and helps guests achieve a relaxed state of mind during their stay." Entrepreneurs interested to try their hand at the Marriott TestBED accelerator must submit their applications here by October 4, 2017. A jury panel will then select eight startups and invite them to participate in the Marriott TestBED Pitch Day to be held on November 14, 2017 in Dubai. Post this, the final two startups will then be part of the Marriott TestBED accelerator starting November 27, 2017 and concluding on January 31, 2018, by joining a designated Marriott Hotel in the region.


Related: Success Speaks For Itself: Whissle Hospitality Group