Skift Take

Starwood is thinking about loyalty much differently than its peers, and moves like this new Apple Watch app should be seen as a loyalty play more than a tech one.

Five months after revealing the Apple Watch, the company today announced pricing for the device as well as a release dates and more details about its features.

During the on-stage demonstration, a number of travel brands made appearances, from hailing a taxi with Uber, to displaying an American Airlines boarding pass.

It also included an app from Starwood that will, among other things, let guests use their Apple Watch as a room key at over 150 W Hotels, Aloft, and Element properties around the world. The Starwood Preferred Guest iPhone app already let guests use their iPhone as a room key at a small number of properties, but Starwood timed the broader rollout of SPG Keyless to the Watch’s release. By the end of April it will have updated the locks to over 30,000 rooms to enable SPG Keyless.

“For us we always want to be on the platorms that our guests use and we are excited about the opportunity the Watch presents,” Chris Holdren, Senior Vice President, Starwood Preferred Guest & Digital told Skift today after attending Apple’s event. “We’re excited to bring SPG Keyless to the Watch. We think that guests being able to use the Watch to open the door is a real game changer.”

The keyless functionality works with iPhones, Android devices, and the Apple Watch.

“It’s not just a port of our iPhone app. We stared over with user experience in mind — what would provide the most value to them,” Holdren says. “We streamlined it so it provides the information that’s most important, like your room number, which is a top thing our guests forget because they are on the road so much.”

Although it is made up of multiple brands, Starwood has made a concerted effort to drive guest loyalty through its SPG app, giving additional benefits — such as free Wi-Fi — when they guests book through the app. “For us SPG is focused on driving the deep relationship,” says Holdren. “It’s not just about the rewards but the recognition and the feelings. By being on devices like the Watch we can provide extra convenience.”

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Tags: apple, starwood

Photo credit: The SPG app on the Apple Watch, represented alongside other apps. Apple

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