Marriott and TED are super-connectors


TEXT: EDUARD VOORN | PHOTOGRAPHY: ANTIM
TED has 35 years under its belt as a tremendous idea generator and champion connector. Reason enough for international hotel chain Marriott to support this international sensation, now also in Rotterdam. “For us, it’s also all about the personal connections.”
On stage at the Rotterdam Theater in Rotterdam Central District (RCD), we see Ismail Aghzanay. Spotlights shine brightly behind him, lighting up the familiar red ‘TEDx’ letters. The large auditorium listens attentively as this professor shares his life story; as it turns out, he’s a comedian in his free time. Ismail wasn’t exactly a model student growing up, but there were a few teachers to nudge him in the right direction. His message to the audience: believe in yourself.
Claudia van der Graaf, General Manager of the Rotterdam Marriott -Hotel, was touched by his heartwarming story. “The audience, parents included, responded to his compassion with beautiful questions. In the spirit of TEDx, there’s no better indicator than a captivated audience. The moment of truth, when you know you’ve become a connector. It’s also one of the reasons we at Marriott chose to partner with TED. In our industry, encouraging connections is essential. Traveling is another great source of inspiration, insights and ideas. By collaborating with TED, we take the travel experience of our guests to the next level. The traveler of today is looking for much more than a hotel room. The TED program is not only for entertainment, but also to contemplate current issues. Together with TED, we inspire our guests to think, live and travel in different ways.”
Marriott and TED first teamed up three years ago [see text box: How TED began]. The hotel chain strengthened its partnership with the non-profit organization with an exciting new addition: livestream talks from the TED2019 conference in Vancouver to guests in 12 -Marriott properties around the world. This is the first time that guests outside of the conference walls can tune in to the thought-provoking conversations. Additionally, about 20 Marriott Bonvoy members – Marriott’s most loyal guests who are members of the Marriott loyalty program – will attend a one-day workshop with Briar Goldberg, Director of Speaker Coaching at TED, and create their very own TED Talks.
In recent years, the international hotel chain was no stranger to TED, hosting TED Talks and supporting local TEDx events. “We have already held four amazing TED Talks in our hotel at Weena, right here in RCD,” explains Van der Graaf, pointing to the large, but intimate hotel lobby where the presentations took place. “The local TEDx organization provided the program and content, we created the appropriate ambiance. Our intention is two-fold: introducing Rotterdam Marriott Hotel to a wider audience, especially Rotterdam locals, and bringing together our current hotel guests, creating an extra experience for them.”
Discussion topics during TED Talks at Marriott can range from sustainability and diversity to architecture and design. Van der Graaf: “TED Talks offers a platform to further explore the city of Rotterdam and be inspired and gain new perspectives. The combination of TED and staying in our hotels broadens your horizons. You develop a new way of looking at society.”
How TED began
TED, short for Technology, Entertainment and Design, is a non-profit organization focused on Ideas Worth Spreading, usually in the form of short, powerful presentations by today’s leading thinkers and doers. The first meeting was held in California in 1984. TED was also founded that same year, when American architect and graphic designer Richard Saul Wurman observed the worlds of technology, entertainment and design coming closer together. The main TED event is held each year in Vancouver. Since 2009, it is possible to apply for a license to organize local, one-day conferences under the TED name, with a small ‘x’ added at the end. There are strict guidelines that TEDx organizations must follow for these events. Meanwhile, TED has also launched TEDWomen, TED-Ed and TED Fellows. All presentations are available for free via TED.com.