Lincoln hotel focuses on innovation and supporting local entrepreneurs
Hotels may not be the first market segment that comes to mind when you consider corporate innovation. But the Cornhusker Marriott in Lincoln is an example of innovation that incorporates mobile technologies, opportunities for entrepreneurs and individuals with disabilities, and environmental consciousness. “In Spring 2018, The Cornhusker updated all door locks to keyless entry, including 300 guest rooms, offices…
Hotels may not be the first market segment that comes to mind when you consider corporate innovation. But the Cornhusker Marriott in Lincoln is an example of innovation that incorporates mobile technologies, opportunities for entrepreneurs and individuals with disabilities, and environmental consciousness.
“In Spring 2018, The Cornhusker updated all door locks to keyless entry, including 300 guest rooms, offices and meeting rooms,” said Marketing Manager Beth Oligmueller. “It provides more reliable access for our guests, greater security and a seamless appearance. By Spring 2019, mobile key will communicate to the modern travelers with mobile guest check-in, meaning guests will be able to access their room without visiting the front desk.”
Another technology enhancement scheduled for implementation in May 2019 is the Enhanced Reservation Solution (ERS).
“ERS is an initiative for a new guest reservations and shopping experience on Marriott.com,” Oligmueller said. “The new experience centers around presenting guests with options to select and purchase room features they most value that will be guaranteed to them upon arrival, such as room with a vies, high floor, accessible and king suite.”
Guest experiences at The Cornhusker also include engaging local artists through an Artist in Residence program that is about to enter its fourth year of operation. Marcus Hotels & Resorts, owner of The Cornhusker, launched the program in 2009 and thought it would be successful in Nebraska.
“We’re looking for our fourth artist,” Oligmueller said. “We have a studio with glass walls on two sides so patrons can watch. It’s very fun to see how the artist interacts with guests, and vice versa.”
The Artist in Residence program runs from April through March each year. Artists are required to spend at least 30 hours per week in the space.
“It’s their studio to use however they want,” Oligmueller said. “It gives artists an opportunity to work in their space, interact with guests and sell pieces. There are great interactions with both local patrons as well as travelers. It really supports the arts community and an individual artist for a year.”
One of the more unique innovations at The Cornhusker is the installation of four beehives on the roof of the 10th floor of the hotel, done in May 2017. The apiary is managed in partnership with a local company, Valhalla Bee Farm.
“The bees produce a lot of honey for use throughout the hotel,” Oligmueller said. “We use it in our kitchen for things like salad dressing, and our pastry chef uses it in some of his cooking as well.”
Honey is also packaged for retail sale, and has inspired beverages at the hotel’s Miller Time Pub.
“We have honey-inspired beer craft brewed by Lincoln’s Code Beer Company that’s on tap in the pub,” Oligmueller said. “We also have honey-inspired cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks. For the holidays, we partnered with a local artisan who makes soaps, lotions and chapsticks using beeswax we have on sale in the gift shop.”
The Cornhusker has also initiated a composting and recycling operation to separate trash from reuseable materials.
“We work with Big Red Worms and send all our food waste there,” Oligmueller said. “We’re also trying to offer recycling services in each of our 300 guest rooms. Lots of people are looking for green-friendly hotels.”
The hotel is part of Project SEARCH, an initiative to provide job training and career development opportunities for young people with disabilities.
“Kids with disabilities are given opportunities to transition from high school to college and learn a career field,” Oligmueller said. “There is an on-site classroom for these students, who we call interns. It runs just like a school year from August through May with graduation. They go through a series of departments and learn how to work in a job environment.”
All of these innovations are good for The Cornhusker, but also provide opportunities to the community and its entrepreneurs, artists and young people with disabilities.
“We love supporting local entrepreneurs,” Oligmueller said.
Rod Armstrong is Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for AIM in Lincoln, Nebraska. He is a regular contributor to Silicon Prairie News.
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