Industry Update
Press Release12 October 2009

Starwood Preferred Guest Launches New Twitter, Facebook and iPhone Applications

SPG Connects Members to Starwood and Each Other Through Industry Leading Social Media Initiatives

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Starwood Hotels & Resorts

Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG) today announces the launch of a new suite of Twitter, Facebook and iPhone™ applications, which can be accessed at . The move comes as part of the SPG program’s overall commitment to providing insider access for its loyal guests by tapping into the power of social media.

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SPG is the first hotel loyalty program to establish a presence in these leading social media and mobile networks. And the SPG program sees social media as a key platform for further engaging an influential and rapidly growing segment of its members.

According to research, SPG members are highly active social media participants with 50 percent indicating frequent involvement – and those particular members book and stay more frequently. In fact, SPG members engaged in social networks are nearly 20 percent more likely to book a Starwood hotel than other SPG members. And SPG members who create blogs are nearly 80 percent more likely to book.

“We want to be everywhere our guests are, and our savvy members are spending more and more of their time engaged in sites like Twitter and Facebook and on mobile devices like the iPhone,” said Chris Holdren, Senior Vice President of Web Services and Starwood Preferred Guest. “By launching these new applications, we are able to foster positive relationships with our most valued customers and add meaningful benefits to their travel experiences, both online and offline.”

SPG Develops Industry’s First Travel Tips Mash-Up, Powered by Twitter and Google Maps

In June, SPG became the first hotel loyalty program to engage guests though its Twitter account @spginsider. Now, SPG is breaking new ground with SPG Insider, the industry’s first travel tips mash-up. By “mashing up” the functionalities of Twitter and Google Maps, SPG Insider enables travelers to post insider tips – or “tweets” – on restaurants, bars and entertainment options around the world from their mobile Twitter application of choice. SPG Insider then instantly uploads the tip and places it on the map using the longitude and latitude coordinates of the device from which it was sent. Other travelers can then search the map on for ideas on places to go near their destination.

While the growth of SPG Insider will be largely dependent upon consumer submissions, concierges at Starwood’s hotels around the world will play a pivotal role in the evolution of the application. They have already loaded reviews of some of their favorite local hot spots contributing to nearly 2000 points of interest to date, and will continually update the site with their insider recommendations.

With New SPG TripShare, Facebook Friends Can Post, Search and View Trip Photos

SPG is building on its existing presence on Facebook with the new photo application – SPG TripShare which was developed in conjunction with Buddy Media. Created to give travelers the ability to post, search and view photos of their recent trips, SPG TripShare enhances Facebook’s standard photo albums by providing additional customization and search features.

To use SPG TripShare, Facebook members simply choose their five favorite vacation photos, tag them with descriptions of their choice and submit them to be posted at . Friends, family and other travel fans can then search the photo albums by member name or by using descriptive terms like “resort” or “skiing.”

“We know that travel is all about creating memories, and photos are a key way we capture and share them,” said Holdren. “With SPG TripShare, we will provide a forum for our loyal SPG members, as well as those who are not, to share their memories and search for new trip ideas and inspiration.”

“SPG TripShare is an outstanding example of how premier consumer brands are tapping the social web to deepen their engagement with existing customers and reaching new customers in a viral, word-of-mouth fashion, which is one of the most effective forms of marketing” said Mike Lazerow, CEO of Buddy Media. “We look forward to helping SPG track and analyze SPG TripShare’s impact on customer growth, brand awareness and brand affinity.”

With a Touch of the Finger, SPG Members can Tap into the Power of the Starwood Network

To provide members on the go with one touch access to their accounts, SPG has rolled out a mobile application for Apple’s popular iPhone. The new app allows SPG members to easily access travel information on the road, right from their iPhone or iPod touch®. Using the app, members can jump onto their SPG account to view their Starpoints® balance, find details about their upcoming hotel stays and get door-to-door directions to their hotel – all free of charge. The SPG iPhone app can be accessed on iTunes® at .

About Starwood Preferred Guest | The SPG program’s breakthrough policy of No Blackout Dates at the world’s most sought after collection of hotels, reinvented the hospitality loyalty program when it launched in 1999. By creating a program centered on its members, SPG has developed the most passionate and knowledgeable membership base in the hotel loyalty space. Through its use of new technologies and innovative channels such as SPG.com, SPG.com/flights, thelobby.com and others, SPG continues to innovate and lead the industry. By offering No Blackouts on standard rooms at 940 properties, No Blackouts on hundreds of airlines, and once in a lifetime experiences available through SPG Moments, the program has proven to be a big draw for the world’s most frequent travelers, and a significant competitive advantage for Starwood. For more information about Starwood Preferred Guest please visit SPG.com or call (877) – STARWOOD.

Contact
Brad Minor (Starwood)
Phone: 914 309-3392
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