Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), the award-winning loyalty program from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., introduces its new application for iPhone and iPod Touch, which utilizes state-aware technology to create personalized guest experiences across Starwood’s nine distinct brands. The latest development is part of Starwood’s ongoing commitment to tech innovation to meet the needs of today’s connected global traveler—for example, Starwood was the first in the industry to offer FaceTime customer service, a feature that’s built into the new SPG app. The app also includes fully integrated booking, member information, comprehensive hotel searches and travel details, customer service and social media.
Meeting the Needs of Today’s Mobile Traveler
A still-growing trend in the hospitality industry, Starwood’s mobile revenue has increased by more than 300 percent year-over-year, and the company has found that the patterns of travelers using mobile devices to book rooms are markedly different from those of more traditional web bookers. For instance, two-thirds of mobile bookings are within 24 hours of the stay, triple that of web bookings.
“Mobile is a vital part of our business’s future, and it’s fast becoming the preferred way to book travel in both established and emerging markets around the world, such as the United States and China,” said Chris Holdren, Senior Vice President of Starwood Preferred Guest and Digital. “We’ve built the new SPG app to be an all-in-one travel tool that connects our guests with all of the information they need to enhance their experience during their journey with us.”
Following guest feedback and member focus groups, SPG integrated key features into the app instead of directing to an outside mobile browser, creating a faster, more user-friendly experience. New options include the ability to find hotels by airport code or map and a streamlined home screen with “tiles” that are easily tapped or swiped to access frequent requests, such as account information, upcoming stays, customer support and special offers.
The SPG app is the first in the travel industry—and one of the first apps ever—to utilize state-aware technology, creating an interface that unites all nine of Starwood’s distinct lifestyle brands and its nearly 1,100 hotels and resorts; and adjusts the app’s look, feel and content depending on whether the user is planning, en route or already checked in to a specific hotel. Starting 48-hours before a guest is scheduled to arrive at a Starwood hotel or resort, the app sends a push notification; and the “My Stay” interface becomes reflective of the specific brand and property, with home-screen access to key information such as hotel address in both English and the local language, weather, directions and hotel amenities. Once at the hotel, the guest’s stay is enhanced with integrated content such as their room number, on- and off-property dining and activity suggestions, and in-app access to social media channels such as FourSquare and Facebook.
The app also offers an “Explore” tab for discovery when users don’t have a specific destination in mind. Explore provides customized hotel recommendations based on individual preferences such as trip type (e.g., beach, city, wedding), brand, SPG category and interests.
Personalized, Guest-Centric Interface
As part of Starwood’s continued dedication to personalized guest service, the new app includes extensive content that’s easily filtered and customized. Members can use the app to store all relevant information about their SPG profile and upcoming and past stays, as well as send hotel confirmation or other details to anyone via text or email. And, it incorporates location-based services to connect users, as needed, to the closest customer care center, in addition to a live FaceTime support option.
“The new SPG app will help us build even deeper relationships with our loyal guests and provide them with relevant content not only while on-property but also before and after they stay with us,” said Mark Vondrasek, Senior Vice President, Starwood Distribution, Loyalty & Partnerships. “The app is carefully calibrated to reflect the SPG brand as well as the unique personality of each hotel but, more importantly, to reflect what’s most important to each guest. While some users will love tapping through the gorgeous hotel photos and reading the rich content, others will use the app strictly for practical purposes; and the app lets them customize their own experience.”
Starwood’s mobile team partnered with Bottle Rocket to design and develop the SPG app—resulting in smart, intuitive navigation that seamlessly integrates SPG and hotel-specific branding into the iPhone’s famously user-friendly interface. The app, currently available for free from the App Store on iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad or at www.spg.com/iphoneapp, is the latest development in SPG’s evolution into a hyper-personalized guest services platform (earlier this month, SPG unveiled a suite of elite member benefits, including 24-hour check-in, access to a Starwood ambassador, confirmable upgrades and free breakfast). Currently available in English worldwide, the SPG app will be updated throughout 2012 with additional versions in Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and the Romance languages; and for other devices.