How Hotels Run Small-Scale Experiments

Small-scale experiments are popping up in the hospitality industry, from hotels to events. They are the equivalent of what beta-testing is to product development: a low-cost, low-risk way to try new ideas and iterate them before hitting the market with full-force.

Take for example the Hotel Normandie, in Los Angeles.

For most visitors, this will represent a typical stay, complete with continental breakfast, everyday wine receptions, yoga on the rooftop and impromptu piano concerts.

For a very select set of customers, however, the Walker Inn has a few rooms nestled in. It is, in fact, a hotel within a hotel.

The rooms are less chic.

But it is their exclusivity that makes their value.

To access one of these rooms, guests must walk all the way to the back of a bar, through a secret door.

On every floor of the Walker Inn, guests will have all that is necessary to make their favourite drinks.

And if they prefer, the bar tender will make it for them at the Walker Inn Bar, also hidden from the Hotel Normandie’s bar, Normandie Club.

It does not take long to understand that, although the Walker Inn’s rooms are less luxurious than the ones at the Hotel Normandie, the experience is nevertheless catered to an equally affluent, but very different public. A public that loves novelty, experimentation and quirkiness.

Setting a boutique hotel as a stand-alone hotel could have been a nearly-impossible task in the middle of LA. Setting it as an experiment within the walls of a comfortably-running establishment, however, was a definite pathway for testing, tweaking and growing.

Several other initiatives of the sort have taken place all over North America. In the hotel industry, celebrity chef Nobu Matsushia’s Nobu Hotel found its nook inside Ceasears’ Palace in 2013, and more recently, inside the Eden Roc Miami Beach hotel.

The world of Event Planning has also been adopting this trend. Innovative business conference C2 Montreal is known for its sense of play and creativity when running its event. In their 2017 program, the organizers have created an event within the event, the AI Forum, proving that even the most innovative organizations can still push the experimentation further.

Originally published at on May 12, 2017.