Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

December 2012

The User-Centered Center

By Barbara Palmer, Senior Editor

Sidebar: Meeting Space With Soul

Workspring at Marriott, at the Redmond Marriott Town Center in Redmond, Wash., doesn’t look like any hotel meeting space you’ve ever seen, promises Laurie Goldstein, a public-relations manager for Marriott International. The contemporary “small meetings suite,” which opened in September, blends five studios with a café that feels like a home kitchen, a quiet library, and a common area that could double as a living room. “The future of the way people work,” said Paul Cahill, senior vice president for brand management for Marriott Hotels and Resorts, “is more social and more collaborative.”

Created through a partnership between Marriott and Steelcase - which designed and operates two Workspring meeting spaces in Chicago - Workspring at Marriott reflects A-to-Z thinking about how humans work and what fuels high-performing teams, Cahill said, from supplies to furniture and room setups to technology.

Constructed in what formerly was a junior ballroom at the hotel, Workspring at Marriott was sparked in part by the hotel company’s conviction that small meetings have their own dynamics. “You shouldn’t treat a small collaborative meeting the same as a meeting of 1,200,” Cahill said. Accordingly, the Workspring suite offers spaces that range from 235 square feet to about 1,200 square feet, and can accommodate groups of three to 75 people.

It is no longer a competitive advantage just to have information - everyone has information, according to Matthew Von Ertfelda, vice president of insight, strategy, and innovation for Marriott International. “What is needed are environments and collaborative tools that allow participants to use and distill information,” Von Ertfelda said. “That’s what a successful meeting is today.”

The space offers lots of natural light, along with ergonomic seating, outdoor space, and snacks and meals prepared from locally sourced food. “It is space that has a soul,” Von Ertfelda said, “and a DNA.” That DNA includes a dedicated meetings host, trained by Steelcase, a daily set menu, and supplies and AV equipment that are integrated into the meeting-space design. The all-inclusive price (full- or partial-day rental) includes F&B, supplies, and technology.

The Workspring at Marriott in Redmond is the first such office space to be offered by the hotel chain, but it won’t be the last. Cahill said: “It’s a game-changer.”

For more information: convn.org/marriott-workspring>

More Resources

  • For more information about Sentry Centers, visit sentrycenters.com.
  • Read “More Than a Feeling,” a Convene article about how environment affects learning and other aspects of meetings, at convn.org/space-design.

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