Starwood Hotels boss Frits van Paasschen, pictured, predicts “more guests will reach us through smartphone or tablet than through PCs” during 2014 and indicated the company will increase its tech spend to keep pace with consumers. “Increasingly, when we talk about technology, we’re talking about mobile,” he told investors yesterday.
“Mobile accounts for 42% of (Starwood) site visits, up from 16% just 2 years ago. Mobile bookings are growing 5x faster than web bookings did 10 years ago.
“We see connectivity, especially through mobile, as the great opportunity for dialogue with travellers.
“And this dialogue opens new avenues for innovation. Our efforts to become more agile have changed how we work and where we direct our energy. That includes spending.
“Alongside investing in growth geographies, we’ll devote resources to stay in sync with what our guests want and to put better information in the hands of our associates.”
He said Smart check-in is emblematic of the Starwood approach to mobile.
“Keyless check-in by smartphone is being piloted today at 2 hotels, the Aloft Harlem and the Aloft Cupertino,” he said.
“Our goal is to begin rolling out Smart check-in to every Aloft, W and Element around the world later this year.
“We see Smart check-in as just a natural progression. People use their mobile devices to buy a cup of coffee, order a car or shop for just about anything.
“Why wouldn’t our guests want the same kind of mobile experience when they arrive at a hotel?”
Mr van Paasschen said Starwood rebuilt is core technology platforms five years ago.
“We’ve made them more flexible and more able to add new technology quickly and cost effectively.
“Looking ahead, Smart check-in is just the tip of the iceberg.
“We’re taking digital and mobile innovation and combining it with revenue management systems, big data offer — engines and an integrated set of reservations and loyalty systems.”