Yesterday Starwood launched the new spg.com, which certainly takes some getting used to. I take care of 99% of my travel needs directly through the websites of the airlines and hotels I’m traveling with, so when they redesign their websites it’s kind of a big deal for me, as there’s a huge learning curve. I’m so used to pushing buttons without even putting any thought into it, that I find it takes me forever to get used to new websites. Oh well.
Here’s how a Starwood representative on FlyerTalk explained the new website:
Here’s a quick summary of some of the changes:
- A brand new homepage, including new site navigation
- An enhanced redemption experience, including a redesigned spg.com/moments
- Integrations to support members of our new B2B loyalty offering, SPG Pro
- An even more personalized experience when you log in – from offers to account snapshots and more. Plus, the ability to save your stay preferences to your account with the introduction of SPG Preferences.
Aesthetically I don’t love the new spg.com
Starwood’s new website is no doubt more modern. It’s flashy and looks very 2014, though at the same time that’s not necessarily a style I’m a huge fan of. The text is bigger, everything is “bubblier,” and as a result there’s less information on a given page. It’s image heavy, and I find myself having to scroll or click to find the information that was otherwise easily viewable.
But as travel providers continue to emphasize mobile, that seems to be more the norm than the exception nowadays.
The first thing I noticed, which is truly puzzling, is that my name shows as “MR./MRS.” There’s no option to actually change my title on the website, so that’s bizarre. You’d think there would be an option to do that, or otherwise they’d just address you by your first name.
The new spg.com could be a win for customization
On the plus side, at least theoretically there seem to be some new functional improvements. A VP at Starwood recently said in a Bloomberg interview that they’re trying to do what they can to customize stays for their best customers, since 2% of their guests are generating 30% of their profits.
And that seems to be integrated into the website. When making a booking while logged into my SPG Platinum account I’m now given a bunch of stay preferences I can select:
- I can immediately specify my Your24 preference (a benefit I get for having stayed 75 nights with Starwood this year)
- I can select my preferred type of upgrade — would I prefer the highest floor, the best view, or the largest room
- I can select other room preferences, like being near the elevator, on a low floor, or in a feather-free room
- I can specify that I’d like a room with a different bed type or a non-connecting room
I think it’s fantastic that they’re asking these questions. The challenge is that it’s up to the individual hotels to execute this and decide what they’ll do with the information. Once you ask guests for specific preferences there’s an expectation that they’ll be taken into account by a hotel. So asking these questions but not doing anything with that information would be a net negative, in my opinion.
Starwood has a huge opportunity with the questions they’re asking. If they can actually get hotels onboard with this, it could be a huge win. For example, if I select a room with the best view as my preference and check into a hotel and am told “unfortunately we weren’t able to upgrade you to a suite, but we did note your preference for a room with the best view, so we’ve upgraded you to that,” I’d be thrilled. At the same time, if I stated my preference for a room with the best view and received a three room suite with no view on the first floor, I’d feel kind of ignored.
Bottom line on the new spg.com
Starwood has a lot of potential to delight customers with the questions they’re starting to ask. Hopefully this is the start of a “loyalty program 2.0” for Starwood.
What do you think of the new spg.com?