Some companies struggle to become innovative on their own. What happens when two Blue Ocean innovators get together to combine their strengths? That's what the hospitality industry is about to discover.
Nintendo and Westin Hotels announced a new relationship that will make Starwood's Westin chain (NYSE: HOT) the first to bring the Nintendo Wii (tm) gaming console to its properties. Nintendo created a Blue Ocean when it broke the industry's assumption that gaming is just for kids. Nintendo has created a whole new category of gaming that has brought adults into the game. I was at a meeting of about 200 executives last week and when the crowd was asked how many of them used the Nintendo Wii, about half of their hands went up.
That same group of professionals is right in Westin's sweet spot. During the week, Westin can attract the busy executive who wants to stay fit, have fun and keep up their bowling form. For women, this will be particularly atrtractive as hospitality research has shown they are less comfortable than men working out in public workout facilities. During the weekend, Westin becomes a family destination without having to make significant investments in kid-oriented facilities.
What could be next?
- Wii-themed meetings and events. The consoles wil now be on property. Let's create some new activities for sales training and other meetings.
- Special weekend family packages. Starwood has talked about their use of Blue Ocean Strategy in Europe to attract families to business hotels during the weekend. Expect movement in that direction in the US.
- Employee training. From practice carrying a loaded tray of drinks and dinner plates to resetting meeting rooms to speed-greeting at the front desk, only the best game developers know what's not possible.
Hmmm. If Nintendo was able to create a Blue Ocean in gaming and Starwood is actively creating a Blue Ocean mentality throughout its organization, what could happen if they worked together to create yet another market space? Stay tuned!