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International hotel group Starwood Hotels is launching a new smartphone app aimed at Chinese travellers in a bid to win more business from its most active travel market, while tapping into the growing global trend for mobile device use.

Qian Jin, Starwood's President in Greater China, commented, "Nothing is more personal than a guest's mobile device." Mr. Qian believes that giving every guest the best hotel experience starts with speaking the same language. With a new member joining SPG every 20 seconds, Starwood is wise to keep its Chinese user base happy.

Recent research studies have discovered that 69% of China's mobile phones run on Android. Armed with this knowledge, Starwood is making a smart choice by building an app for Android. The app offers a seamless browsing and booking experience across Starwood’s entire hotel network, which consists of over 1100 hotels in more than 100 countries.

INNOVATIVE NW CHINESE ANDROID APP

The app comes with a host of innovative features, including quick access to customer account information – such as Starpoint balance, information on upcoming and past stays, as well as the ability to send a confirmation or other details to others using text or email. Integration of location-based features allows app users the ability to contact the nearest customer care centre for rapid support.

During the guest's stay at a Starwood property, the app provides ongoing relevant information to help the guest get the most from their stay. This can include features such as directions, property dining options and other hotel amenities. On top of this, social media integration, including Sina Weibo, allows users to stay in touch with their network, virtually “check-in” to their stay, and engage with the Starwood brand on an ongoing basis.

STARWOOD CHINA MARKETING GOES LOCAL  

Localisation for language needs and cultural differences is always an important aspect of global digital marketing, and even more so in a market such as China with its unique digital landscape. Starwood have already taken this into account for the new China mobile app according to Clay Cowan, Starwood's VP of Global Digital, who points out that Starwood are "localising the digital experience not only for language needs, but for cultural differences such as search formats including dropdown menus and rating scales, as well as locally relevant features including offers, hotel imagery and property features.” This is an important step to take to ensure higher chances of success in a regional market, and a wise move by Starwood.

COMMITMENT TO DIGITAL INNOVATION

In an additional nod to Starwood's commitment to increased innovation in digital, all Starwood hotels in China will soon be equipped with NFC (Near Field Communication) enabled collateral so guests will be able to download the application just by tapping their NFC enabled phones on the collateral. Starwood will achieve a digital first with this rollout, becoming the first ever brand to have NFC enabled collateral widely available throughout the Chinese mainland.

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