Starwood Launches New Website — Thoughts?

Filed Under: SPG

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.

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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.

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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

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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?

Comments

  1. Most of the time i do the same “pushing buttons without even putting any thought into it”. But, i like the new site from the 2nd use :). Gives all kinds of options in the opening page (just have to move the mouse over). For example, in the old website, # of gusts cannot be adjusted in the opening page (to the best of my knowledge). The new website lets you do it on the opening page….
    As you said, the website specifically asks questions depending on your status like late checkout, upgrades, your24 and i love it.

  2. A huge list of drop-down categories across a bar on the top of a screen is web design from the late 90s. With analytics and some basic UX/UI, you should be able to know what the features your customers want are before you even get into targeting that 2%/30% group. Even without all the new SPG options to customize your reservation before you’ve even arrived, the beauty of the SPG mobile apps was completely incongruous with the aged, difficult to use spg.com. You talk about how difficult it is for you to learn the new menus; they’re planning to try to make the site intuitive and simpler so you won’t need to have memorized all the menus to know where to go. In the world of attraction, retention and capture of internet sales of hotel bookings(to say nothing of all internet sales) if your website doesn’t work simply and simply work you’ve eliminated a chunk of your customers before they’ve even tried your product.

  3. I’m a SPG Gold member and the website shows a platinum membership card when I log in. Other than that, I don’t mind it.

  4. The Mr./Mrs. salutation is really stupid considering how many people are single. Hopefully they will change that.

  5. I need to change my Mr./Mrs. to Mr./Mr….of all the drop down menus they added, you think being the LGBT friendly company would have thought of that. And yes…what if you are single…another nice reminder. Come on, Starwood!

  6. Can you take a screenshot of the STATUS DISPLAY, for status matching purposes…. thanks Mr/Mrs Schlappig.

  7. I like that on the map feature if hover over a property the pricing options appear in a box. Don’t remember that from before (though I mostly used an IPAD before this test and the map barely worked at all).

  8. The Mr/Mrs is a huge turn off. If they can’t personalize something that simple, what expectations should I have for them acting on any other preferences?

  9. I am relieved it isn’t just me. I assumed that, since I often use my initials, they didn’t know how to address me. The very thought that they think it’s okay to address everyone as “Mr./Mrs.” is appalling. And, BTW, Starwood–press release: “MRS.” went out in 1977. The majority of women who prefer that label are over 80 or Southern Baptist. Traveling professional women largely go by “Ms.” (and often have a different last name from their husbands, if they have one at all–a husband, that is; most of us do have last names). Geez.

  10. Hiliton has a “close to / far from” elevator preference on your HHonors profile which is honored remarkably consistently. To the point of annoyance — I chose “far from” since I did not want to hear elevator noise at night, but have found I end up having to trek to the very far ends of the hotels I stay in. At least someone is paying attention.

  11. No Mr./Mrs. title labeling for me, at all, thankfully. Just my name, which is great. I much prefer this website over their last which I thought was functionally very old and bizarre. Still, this one could have been more innovative. The one thing SPG has done well, along with Hyatt, and Hilton to a lesser degree is the use of imagery. For the top 2%, it may not mean much, though for others it does elicit longing to travel and stay at a really nice property somewhere far away, so draw them in to start booking rooms!

    Their iPhone App, on the other hand, is another issue. Their latest update – released yesterday, I believe – is a crash-fest. It has not worked at all yet, and consistently crashes within 10-15 seconds of launch. Fail. They need to fix this quickly.

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