Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Starwood Taps into Social, Mobile Habits of Its Most Valuable Loyalty Members

November 4, 2009: summarized from Promo Magazine -- In what it claims is the first effort by a lodging loyalty program to appeal to offer a full menu of social-and mobile-media options, Starwood Preferred Guest, the rewards program for the 960 properties that make up Starwood Hotels & resorts Worldwide, has rolled out a Web portal that aggregates all of SPG’s available social channels, from Twitter and Facebook to an iPhone app, in one Internet location.

The rationale for collecting all these sharing tools under one URL, is that the company’s research has shown that SPG loyalty program members take an active interest in social media, with 50% saying they use these channels frequently. Those heavy social-media users also tend to book and stay with the lodging group more often than non-social members—20% more likely, according to Starwood’s research. And SPG members who create and post to their own blogs are 80% more likely to arrange a hotel stay than those who don’t.

Visitors to www.SPG.com/stayconnected can friend the Starwood Preferred Facebook page and get access to the photo albums posted there. But they can also make use of a new Facebook app, SPG TripShare. Once downloaded, it will let Facebook friends post, search and view photos of their recent trips and make them shareable with their own family and friends. Users can choose their five favorite vacation shots, tag them with the descriptions of their choosing, and then post them. Their friends can then search for the photos by member name or by tag.

Site visitors can also reach the SPG Twitter account, launched last June under the name @spginsider. But a new mash-up combines Twitter content with mapping functionality from Google to let SPG travelers link tweets containing travel tips, such as attraction reviews and bar and restaurant recommendations, to an actual geographic map, so other user members can access them while on the road.

The new SPG Insider function accepts the tweets from users’ mobile function of choice, laptop or cell phone, and places them on the map using the geo coordinates of the device from which they were sent. Other travelers can then search the maps to get tips about things to see and place to go while they’re abroad.

Meanwhile a new SPG iPhone app, available for free download on iTunes with a link from the SPG.com Web site at www.SPG.com/iPhoneApp, will let members access their loyalty program account to view their Starpoints balance, find details about upcoming hotel stays they’ve set up and get door-to-door directions to their hotels. The iPhone app also links to the company blog, “the Lobby,” and to customer support services.

More at: http://bit.ly/aw2zr

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