Phil McAveety, EVP and Chief Brand Officer of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, spoke today at the Skift Global Forum.

He oversees the company’s loyalty program, Starwood Preferred Guest, and is responsible for all aspects of marketing for Starwood and its brands, including Westin, Sheraton, W, Le Meridien, The Luxury Collection, Four Points by Sheraton, and others.

McAveety’s talk “The Future of Marketing in Travel” kicked off the day’s activities.

McAveety described a meeting of Starwood’s executive in 2011 during which they discussed what their business would look like 2020. Many of the functions they hoped to offer have already been put in place: Starwood has an Apple Watch app that will open hotel room doors without keys and a robotic butler that assists hotel staff.

McAveety; however, focused much of his discussion on pointing out where technology falls short of Starwood’s true business: hospitality. He talked about how technology should not only put in the hands of guests, but used to improve energy and water management systems.

Here are three quotes from McAveety’s talk:

  • “Design truly helps us define our brands. We have to create physical spaces that are functional and inspiring and that talk to those timeless guest needs. It’s not just about designing a beautiful box. It’s about bringing the design to life. In three weeks, we are going to open a brand innovation center in the Garment District where 200 designers will work on the future of the guest experience.”
  • “There’s a danger of falling in love with technology for the sake of technology and forgetting what we’re really in business for. We have to ask, ‘What is that technology can do to enhance the guest experience?’”
  • “There’s something we’ve learned: Technology is not going to win the hearts and minds of guests. Customers expect technology to be embedded before, during, and after their stay. They’re not going to thank you for it, they expect it. In the end, technology is not our business. Guests don’t stay in a hotel for an app.”

Keep track of all the activity at today’s Global Forum by bookmarking our #skiftforum tag.

Photo Credit: Phil McAveety, EVP and Chief Brand Officer of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, on stage at the Skift Global Forum in New York City, October 9, 2014. Skift