BETHESDA, MD—AC Hotels by Marriott wants guests to put down their phones and start talking. The brand is inviting guests and notable panelists to share fresh perspectives while on the road. And, meaningful conversations are already happening.
The first of many monthly conversations for AC Unpacked scheduled around the globe kicked off in July at the Castell Rooftop Bar & Lounge at AC New York Times Square, moderated by renowned photographer and AC brand ambassador Nigel Barker. Panelists included Rehan Choudhry, founder of A Beautiful Perspective, a digital news platform, and Dan Barasch, co-founder and executive director of The Lowline, a nonprofit set on using solar technology to illuminate a historic trolley terminal on the Lower East Side of New York City. Each person gave voice to how they use vision and global thinking to help change the world.
“With the AC Hotels brand growing at a rapid pace around the world, we wanted to create a global program that could eventually touch all our properties, bringing together a creative class of visionaries from around the world to unpack their global perspective and ideas relating to travel, experience, vision and design— founding principles of the AC Hotels brand,” said Benoit Racle, senior global brand director, AC Hotels by Marriott.
Racle added, “Across the board in hospitality, we’re seeing that travelers, particularly next-gen travelers, are looking for more from their hotel than just a place to rest their heads. AC Hotels as a brand is committed to providing a ‘new way to hotel’ and this panel series is a perfect example of that promise. AC Hotels is a brand aimed at inquisitive, entrepreneurial spirits, and we believe having the chance to take part in a horizon-expanding panel series and meet other like-minded individuals while staying at one of our hotels is a real added value for this type of guest.”
AC Hotels’ goal is to provide guests with engaging and authentic content through open discussions with guest speakers who can challenge traditional thinking with their expertise and perspectives.
“With iterations planned to eventually happen monthly around the world, the series turns the communal spaces at AC Hotels into crucibles for horizon-expanding global conversations, whether you find yourself in Pamplona, Panama City or Portland,” he said. “For those who are unable to attend in person, we share content from the events on our social media channels, including streaming the session live on Instagram Live.”
The response has been extremely positive, too.
“Guests and locals have provided feedback on how interesting they found the discussion and how they were able to use some of the perspectives they heard in their professional lives,” he said. “Attendees have been appreciative of the brand bringing together visionary speakers from diverse industries to share perspectives they don’t have the opportunity to hear every day.”
As the conversation series gains momentum, additional events are set for New York as well as Europe and Latin America.
“All of the events will be followed by an ‘Ideas Exchange’ cocktail hour where guests can foster connections with a global network of like-minded individuals,” he said. “One thing we are going to add to the ‘Ideas Exchange’ portion of the events going forward as a catalyst for conversation are Idea Exchange decks of cards. These will be strategically placed throughout the bar spaces, prompting thought-provoking dialogue between groups over a signature AC Gin Tonic— challenging attendees to think critically and continue the conversation after the panel concludes.”
At the end of the day, it’s about making a moment memorable for the guest.
“Hospitality is about connecting travelers to a particular experience, whether it’s their hotel stay, the local city they are visiting or the local culture of the destination,” he said. “There’s no better way to connect travelers and guests to an experience than via in-person dialogue. That being said, as a tech-forward and seamless brand, we also recognize the value of incorporating technology into these experiences. Our inaugural panel series was broadcast via Instagram Live for people who were unable to attend, and we also took questions for the panel during the Q&A via Instagram Stories.”