Thursday, May 22, 2008

Blog built to bring bookings

Starwood Hotels and Resorts isn’t a hotel chain, it’s a “branded lifestyle company”. It’s blog,, isn’t a blog, it’s a “multi-brand marketing tool”.

Brian Pratt, its VP for EMEA, told delegates at EyeForTravel that the various brands within the group were not allowed to cross-promote, and that one of the upmarket brands would never use “sale” in its promotions.

Starwood’s brands are Starwood Hotels, Aloft, Element, Four Points, Le Meridien, Sheraton, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W and Westin. is written by employees, as well as professional travel, culture and leisure writers. It is aimed at members of Starwood’s loyalty programme. It features ‘star pick’ properties which are on promotion to its Preferred Guests.

Talking of which, Pratt said that in a slowdown, “loyalty schemes had to prove their worth.” He wants to drive occupancy in the bad times by persuading guests to cash in the points built up during the good times.

Social media is seeing a “considerable” amount of Starwood advertising cash at the moment as the business “tries to figure out a way of using this opportunity”. But maybe it already has decided – at the end of the Q&A Pratt admitted that for the next few months at least “there are better places to spend money”.

Martin Cowen chief writer Travolution

No comments: