Starwood commits 75% of marketing spend to digital

Firm plans to be at the fore of online revolution says marketing VP

W Doha (picture of illustrative purposes)
W Doha (picture of illustrative purposes)

Starwood Hotels & Resorts has revealed it dedicates 75% of its total marketing budget on digital media.

Speaking to Hotelier Middle East, Starwood Hotels & Resorts vice president marketing Europe, Africa & Middle East (EAME), Steven Taylor, said the company was embracing the evolution of the online world “and our branded online channels have seen fantastic growth over the last few years”.

“Social media has been placed at the very core of our organisation to ensure that we are delivering value to our guests throughout their stay,” he continued.

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Starwood currently boasts more than 1.5 million Facebook fans and has recently launched the new ‘state-aware’ SPG iPhone and iPad application to enhance personalised guest experiences.

Taylor admitted it is a challenge to keep on top of an online world that is constantly evolving; but that the “huge opportunities” makes the effort worthwhile.

Starwood has repositioned its marketing budget so that 75% of total spend is on digital media, but Taylor added it was not just a case of throwing money at online to make it work.

“Engaging guests through social media isn’t simply a case of repositioning budgets. Social media has been placed at the very core of our organisation to ensure that we are delivering value to our guests throughout their stay,” he said.

“With the online environment constantly evolving, we continuously review our education and training structure and internal communication to ensure we take advantage of the opportunity that social media represents.”

Starwood’s mobile revenue has increased by more than 300% year-over-year, and the company has noted that the patterns of travellers 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 represents the next paradigm shift for marketing and consumer engagement and we plan to be at the forefront of this trend,” Taylor added.

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