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Starwood CEO Says Digital Efforts Will Lead to ’24/7 Dialog In and Out-of-Stay’

@jclampet

Skift Take

Although Starwood executives proclaim that Smart Check-in is the first of many mobile innovations in the pipeline, travelers are demanding more digital tools than ever and will not wait too long to receive them.

— Samantha Shankman

Starwood Hotels’ reported fourth-quarter revenue fell below expectations, to $1.51 billion from $1.53 billion a year earlier, Thursday morning.

In the earnings call, Starwood executives said occupancy and room rates in Asia, excluding China, were to blame, but they also highlighted some brighter statistics regarding the global brand’s mobile growth.

“Increasingly, when we talk about technology, we’re really talking about mobile,” Starwood CEO and President Frits van Paasschen said on the call.

Mobile now accounts for 42 percent of Starwood site visits, up 16 percent from two years ago. And mobile bookings are growing five times faster than web bookings did ten years ago.

Van Paasschen expects more guests will reach the hotel group through smartphone or tablet than through PCs by the end of the year.

The CEO also noted the much buzzed about introduction of keyless smartphone check-ins at Starwood’s Aloft brand.

The concept is currently being piloted at two Aloft properties in the U.S., but the plan to roll out Smart Check-in at every Aloft, W, and Element worldwide by the end of the year.

“We see Smart Check-in as just a natural progression,” van Paasschen said. “Because when you think about it, people use their mobile devices to buy a cup of coffee, order a car, or shop for just about anything. Why wouldn’t our guests want the same kind of mobile experience when they arrive at a hotel?

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