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A Healthy Outlook

Marriott, MindClick Unveil New App For Designers To Build For Guests, Associates

Friday, July 12, 2019
Dennis Nessler
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Placing an emphasis on building and designing ‘healthy’ hotels, Marriott International continued to ratchet up its sustainability platform through a newly developed app geared toward designers.

Working toward its ongoing goal of greening the global supply chain, Marriott--along with its partner MindClick, which specializes in supply chain sustainability performance measurement solutions--recently unveiled the Designing for Health app. The app is aimed at helping to build and furnish hotels in ways that are healthier for guests, associates and communities.

The partnership between Marriott, the largest global hotel company with some 30 brands in its portfolio, and MindClick began in 2013 with the MSAP (Marriott Sustainability Assessment Program) by MindClick. MSAP is a core element of Marriott’s Corporate Social Responsibility program known as Serve 360, which is guided by the company’s 2025 Sustainability and Social Impact goals.

Dave Lippert, vp, global design procurement, Marriott International, asserted that the company’s goal is by 2025 to have 95 percent of FF&E products specified on Marriott hotels earn the highest MSAP rating.

He addressed the overall objective and progress of the sustainability initiative.
“We wanted to lead by example and set high goals that were achievable…We’ve got a pretty robust program and there’s reporting and tracking against that as well as accountability. I’m confident that our leaders are going to push this and achieve those goals,” he said.

JoAnna Abrams, founder and CEO, MindClick, pointed out the latest iteration is about more than sustainability. “I would really emphasize the word health versus sustainability, which is a really confusing word. At the end of the day what this is all about is healthier products, a healthier environment, and healthier travel, which we know is really important to the consumer,” she said.

The app is a result of Marriott’s global design and procurement team asking MindClick to create a solution that would make it easy for hospitality designers to specify healthier products for all Marriott branded hotels.

According to MindClick, the Designing for Health app provides designers with a go-to place to search for healthy products and the vendors who supply them; makes it easy to compare the performance of products and vendors without having to be experts in sustainability; and measures the performance of a completed design specification based on the products and vendors specified.

Some examples of potential benefits include healthier indoor air quality by choosing products free of toxins; flooring made using nylon fishing nets reclaimed from the oceans; meeting tables designed to eliminate the use of linens, saving water and energy; and packaging reduced by over 30 percent.

Lippert, meanwhile, discussed the initial reaction to the debut of the app. “I think we saw lot of energy from design firms that have been going through this training and are eager to start using this tool for their custom projects,” he said.

With more than 500 eco-labels and certifications on the market, Abrams noted one of the biggest problems with ‘going green’ is the confusion among designers on how to determine which product is better for the environment.

“That’s the struggle that designers have had for years, which is ‘how do I understand these certifications and what do they mean? I’m just trying to pick the products and furnishings that are going to create the best design and do so in a way that has the most positive health impact that’s available.’ Our application makes it super easy for designers to actually do just that and they’ll be able to upload a set of specifications for a project,” she said.

Abrams continued, “the perception I think is this is not important to designers because you don’t hear a lot of discussion about it necessarily. The issue isn’t that it’s not important, the issue has been that it’s so difficult and so overwhelming that designers just couldn’t get their arms around it. They couldn’t fit it into their project timeline.”

As part of the initiative, Marriott’s global design and procurement team created an awards program to provide added incentive to utilize the app. Based on the MSAP ratings of the specified products, MindClick will score each Marriott registered hotel project following a good/better/best methodology. Any project earning an Achiever or Leader score will be eligible for a Marriott award at the company’s annual owner’s conference.

According to Lippert, the overall scores that are part of the MSAP program are based on 200 points accumulated in a variety of categories, such as raw materials, manufacturing, corporate social responsibility, packaging and distribution.

He touted the system’s transparency.
“You can see where you’re losing points and that’s where you need to focus your strategic efforts. I think we have seen companies embrace that and try to improve,” said Lippert.

In addition, Lara Shortall, hospitality leader for MindClick, noted the company has also put together a designer education series of workshops featuring higher performing suppliers and an overview of the MSAP program and rating system.

Acknowledging the company has developed a very regimented process for prototype projects and evaluates new vendors each year, Lippert reiterated the Designing for Health app is intended more specifically for custom projects. Further noting, “it’s definitely been a journey for us,” he pointed out the company has gone from evaluating roughly 150 to 200 products to more than 3,000.

Lippert underscored the impact of the overall platform on suppliers.
“It drives a little bit of a competition there, because frankly we’re looking to develop new products with suppliers that are higher performing and it’s going to leave those lower performers behind,” he said.

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Dennis Nessler    Dennis Nessler
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