Marriott & MIT Reinvent The Hotel Lobby As A Tech-Enhanced Networking Hub

Six Degrees is an app and a series of physical installations that helps connect guests who are staying in the brand’s hotels.

The Marriott Hotels wanted to improve the guest experience at their locations by getting the people who are staying at their hotels to interact with each other more in real time, so the company worked with the researchers and students at MIT’s Mobile Experience Lab to reinvent the hotel experience for their hotel guests.

The result of the collaboration is a social app called Six Degrees and a series of physical elements such as a large interactive digital screen and an LED table that interacts with the people sitting down at it.

The Six Degrees app matches users based on their background and their interests, both personal and professional. To use the app, hotel guests have to download the app and connect it to their LinkedIn network. The app will match hotel guests based on their profile on LinkedIn. For example, the app can send notifications to two guests who happen to have graduated from the same university or guests who work in the same company or like to do the same sports event.

The app sends the same information to the hotel staff so that they can potentially organize group activities or events based on the profiles of their guests for that week. The scheduled events or activities and the matched connections would be on display on the digital screen in the lobby to encourage the guests to participate. The LED table will also help encourage guests to interact with each other and it does this by lighting up when guests who “match” put their phones on it.

According to FastCo, an early prototype of the app used Facebook instead of LinkedIn, but there were concerns raised by testers at the Marriott Hotel across the MIT campus that it felt too personal. The Six Degrees app does not share users’ photos or last names with random strangers so users don’t have to worry about feeling exposed or “stalked” when staying at the hotel.

In Mid-June, Marriott will be testing the app further at the Marriott near the MIT Campus. Based on feedback and more testing, the team will continue to improve on the app and, if everything goes well, they will do proof-of-concept testing at around a dozen hotels in various markets. The goal is to eventually have it at all 500 Marriott locations in the long run.

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MIT’s Mobile Experience Lab // Marriott Hotels

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