Starwood's Digital Innovation Dominates L2 Digital IQ Index(R): Travel

First Ever L2 Travel Study Measured Digital Competence of 89 Selected Brands across Airlines, Hotels and Cruise Companies Starwood's Measured Portfolio Collectively Outperformed All Other Hotel Groups in Ranking

NEW YORK, May 10, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE:HOT) today announced that six of its premier brands have earned top rankings in the first ever L2 Digital IQ Index(R): Travel, which measured the digital competence of 89 selected travel brands across airlines, hotels and cruise companies. Of Starwood's nine brands, the L2 Travel study ranked Sheraton, Westin, W Hotels, Le Méridien, St. Regis, and The Luxury Collection against competitors and across the industry as a whole. W Hotels Worldwide earned the top spot amongst all measured hotel brands, and Starwood's portfolio collectively outperformed all other hotel companies, ranking third overall in the study.

"With all six measured brands in the study classified as 'Genius' or 'Gifted,' Starwood highlights the benefits of an organization-wide approach to digital. All of the company's brands sit on the same site platform, providing enhanced SEO, cross-sell opportunities, and best-in-class customer service, all without compromising the distinct brand identity," said Maureen Mullen, Director of Research & Advisory for L2. "The organization has approached social media in the same way, leveraging technology and community engagement tactics while allowing brands and properties to create customized and tailored content."

Starwood, who will soon release a groundbreaking location based program strategy, has continued to demonstrate its commitment and participation in the digital space by recently launching the most expansive company-wide social media infrastructure to date, encompassing more than 1,000 properties, nine brands, 125,000 employees in 100 countries, all operating under one consistent strategy.

"With a global foundation in place across multiple platforms, we have established a strong base for doing business in an ever-changing field, which allows us to meet the evolving needs and expectations of our guests whether in stay or not," said David Godsman, Vice President, Global Web. "We are honored to be recognized by L2 as a digital 'genius' for our digital excellence."

The L2 Digital IQ Index(R): Travel follows other established L2 studies that rank companies across industries such as automotive, pharmaceutical, and specialty retail. Authored by Scott Galloway, New York University clinical professor of marketing and founder of L2, in partnership with the George Washington University School of Business, and highly-reputed, integrated marketing agency ISM (specializing in travel), the Index evaluated the digital efforts of prestige travel brands across four criteria: Site (35 percent, including booking, loyalty programs and interactivity); Digital Marketing (25 percent, covering search engine optimization, email marketing and display); Social Media (20 percent, specifically Facebook, Twitter and YouTube); and Mobile (20 percent, defined by compatibility and applications). Each brand was scored against more than 350 qualitative and quantitative data points, and assigned a Digital IQ ranking of Genius, Gifted, Average, Challenged or Feeble.

W Hotels and Westin were considered "prestige" by virtue of their market leadership, price, ratings and reach, ranking in the top 10 overall and earning Genius or Gifted status. According to L2, W Hotels strategically utilizes digital to translate the W Hotel lifestyle and experience to consumers online.

Additionally, L2 praised Sheraton's "Better When Shared" virtual community, encouraging travelers to share their experiences and memories at a Sheraton property. The community also invites participates to share advice on location attractions, dining, shopping, and more to future travelers.

Starwood continues to lead both in and outside of the hospitality industry as an innovator and first in developing and launching unique digital initiatives.

Starwood was the first hospitality company to:

  • Launch award-winning "Lurker" program more than 10 years ago, recognizing the importance of listening to guest feedback and communicating in open dialogue
  • Integrate Facebook social graph into website experience, adding "Like" buttons for each hotel on brand websites
  • Establish presence on China specific social channels such as Kaixin001
  • Establish travel blog and test new forms of engagement such as technology mash-ups
  • Launch video chat customer service using Apple's Face Time application for SPG Gold & Platinum Members

About Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with 1051 properties in 100 countries and territories with 145,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood Hotels is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels, resorts and residences with the following internationally renowned brands: St. Regis(R), The Luxury Collection(R), W(R), Westin(R), Le Méridien(R), Sheraton(R), Four Points(R) by Sheraton, and the recently launched Aloft(R), and Element SM. The company boasts one of the industry's leading loyalty programs, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), allowing members to earn and redeem points for room stays, room upgrades and flights, with no blackout dates. Starwood Hotels also owns Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., one of the premier developers and operators of high quality vacation interval ownership resorts. For more information, please visit

About L2

L2 is a think tank for digital innovation. Founded by NYU Stern professor of marketing Scott Galloway, L2 helps brands navigate the digital marketing landscape through events, research and advisory services. The L2 Digital IQ Index(R) is the largest and most robust study of its kind. Rankings are published annually across industries including Pharmaceutical, Luxury, Auto, Specialty Retail and Travel.

SOURCE: Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.



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