Starwood Reinvents Internet Connection System

By Greg Musho, senior manager for broadband technologies, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide | March 27, 2008

A positive guest experience is a primary objective for any successful hotel. From check-in to checkout, there are multiple opportunities to fulfill a guest's particular needs, and extend a unified message that hotel management and staff are there to exceed expectations. 

 
At Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, we strongly feel it is important to always be on the lookout for new opportunities to communicate this commitment. In-room Internet access is only one of many opportunities, as we look to the future of technology in the hospitality industry.
 
Approach
Mad*Pow, a user-centered design studio, assisted us in the initiation of this project. They conducted upfront research and analysis and came to us with a report clearly demonstrating that reinventing Starwood's Internet connection system would be a benefit to the customer experience, which in turn helped us to fund the project.

The report recommended that we focus specifically on the areas ease-of-use; brand consistency; marketing and communication effectiveness; and robust and engaging content.

In order to achieve these goals, Mad*Pow and Starwood followed a user-centered design process to create the new experience. Starwood sought guest input through numerous interviews and used their input to create user personas for each type of guest, and recommended and organized content according to each unique user's need and each brand's voice. One unique aspect that we incorporated into our designs were applications that foster guest interaction during the connection process.

After visually designing and branding each interface, our two organizations worked to create prototypes that guests could test and use to provide feedback. After that phase was completed, we officially released our new product and are conducting ongoing content evolution and evaluation.

Result
Each of Starwood's brands now offers a new in-room guest experience that reflects the company's renowned reputation. As the refurbished connection portals launched throughout 2006 and 2007, guests found it easier to achieve their goal of having high-speed Internet access, resulting in fewer customer service requests for connection assistance.

Content is now relevant to the specific attributes of a particular guest's stay and they are able to find information without digging around the numerous pages and details within the print-based compendium found in each room. Guests are also taking advantage of the online promotions and offers that are positioned on the site, adding to Starwood's sales numbers and extending the brand awareness of the hotels.

At Starwood, our brands embarked on a number of transformational initiatives. The in-room Internet connection experience was an area of opportunity to focus during this reinvention period. By following the process, listening to the voice of the customer, and incorporating intuitive user interface suggestions from our agency and brands - our next generation guest portals now provide a streamlined platform for truly engineering memorable branded guest experiences across the Starwood portfolio.

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