Starwood heads to the Far-East

Like a well-practiced archer, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide has strung their bow and shot a perfect bull’s-eye in pinpointing the world’s next great hospitality market. China, one of the world’s most rapidly expanding economies, is where Starwood has decided to take their latest expansion initiative with a goal of 100 hotels by 2012.

This week, Starwood made the announcement that 7 new hotels would be opening in the country during the summer, which would bring the current number of Starwood properties in China to 42. Starwood even recently moved their global Headquarters to Shanghai, China.

The reason for all the fuss over the country? , First , there is the fact that China has the second largest economy in the world, yet is not nearly as saturated by the high-end hospitality industry as the United States and are actually expanding faster than the American economy. Then there is the fact that China in itself is producing Starwood customers at a breakneck pace. Last year there was a 71% increase in Starwood preferred customers in China.

Of their multiple international brands, Sheraton will be the most commonly developed. Of the planned 100 hotels with about half of the new construction will be Sheraton. For more information check out this full article about Starwood’s Asian expansion.


“Keys” to Success in the Hotel Business

You probably thought hotel keys had reached their technological peak. No longer must we deal with the primitive annoyance of using a piece of metal to unlock a door.

This is the 21st century for Pete’s sake. Where a simple credit card sized piece of plastic has replaced the traditional key. Well, despite its modern simplicity, the hotel keycard has recently become subject to an even more futuristic change.

Yes, one of the latest innovations in day-to-day hotel business is changing the basic mechanism of how guests access their rooms. Instead of having one keycard per stay, some hotels are offering cards that can be used for multiple visits, even eliminating the need for guests to check in at the front desk!

Another way hotels are changing the keycard is by eliminating it. Some hotels are now allowing guests to use their cell-phones as keys. When held up to the lock, the phone uses a series of tones to allow the guest to enter, further simplifying the process.

Some hotels blame the fact that keycards can be easily demagnetized and rendered useless as a reason for the change, other reasons include simply improving customer service. Either way this innovation will definitely make staying in hotels more streamlined, efficient process. It also opens the door for speculations as to what the next innovation will be in hotel simplicity.


For the full story see what the Wall-Street Journal has to say about the latest in hotel key technology.

Hotel Management = Fun Facebook Game?

“Creative.” That was the first thing that came to mind when I heard about Marriott’s latest recruitment tool. The second thing was, “I want to play!”

Marriott International has taken full advantage of the world’s largest social networking platform by releasing a Facebook game that enables players to step into the shoes of a Marriott hotel manager. The game called “My Marriot Hotel,” is designed to help get more people interested in the profession. Besides being simple entertainment, the game has realistic elements. It forces the player to deal with the challenges a hotel manager would have to face in real life—some of which include managing reservations, keeping track of inventory, and keeping the hotel’s finances in check.

Surprisingly enough, this game appeals to me. I don’t know if my generation is simply conditioned to want to play the latest web based games, or if there is some deeper mystique involved with the idea of trying to run a hotel. Regardless of my personal interest in“ My Marriott Hotel,” Marriott has undoubtedly come up with an interesting way to recruit more employees.  Only time will tell if all those players will translate into manager prospects. For more information, head over to the Wall Street Journal.

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Service vs. Stuff

A warm smile and being called by name, or fancy soap in the bathroom… As a hotel patron, which would impress you more? Which could you do without?

As with many industries, the recession has forced hospitality venues to make some changes. When faced with cutting costs and saving money, hotel chains have been faced with the decision of where to make cutbacks. What amenities and extravagances do guests really care about and which can be cut to save costs?

The conclusion of many hotel chains (including Starwood, Marriott International and Hyatt) is that service is more important to guests than material extras. This attitude favoring treatment over “things” makes a lot of sense. Guests come to luxury hotels for the experience, not the items associated with them. They come to be treated well and shown the utmost hospitality.

Though it has been a trying time, the recession may have actually had a positive influence on the hospitality industry. By forcing hotels to tighten their belts and figure out what is most important to guests, venues have made lasting changes that will apply in the post-recession economy.   For more information on why hotels are choosing service over stuff, head to Reuters