Since I arrived at Starwood last September I have had a lot of very exciting projects in the works and the first of those is now live with the launch of the new Starwood Preferred Guest site. This site is 9 months in the making is the most functionally and technologically complex and innovative site I have ever worked on.
This site not only launches a host of new functionality but also the new brand image and position for SPG. Two of the main attributes of the new brand position are aspirational and access which are two things that do not want to co-exist easily. Since aspirational site design uses a lot of large photos while access needs menus, forms and functionality to let the customer do what they want it was a really challenge to make all of this work.
The first piece of major new functionality appear on the home page with the My SPG module. It is a completely customizable personal portal that lets you control what parts of your account, site content and functionality you would like on the home page. It also allows us to add a nearly infinite amount of new functionality without needing to re-designing or changing the page.
We spent a huge amount of time re-designing and architecting the search results from the ground up and so it houses the real horsepower and innovation for the site. Unlike current sites where searching for a hotel requires you to constantly flip back and forth between search results and hotel details pages, the new SPG uses AJAX to let you expand a panel which contains photos, hotel info, specials, current and future weather and more. We also created a new rate display technology that allows members to see the best available rate, the price in Starpoint and the price in Cash & Points at the same time, making comparison shopping and booking quicker and easier.
All travel sites cater those people who know where they are going. But what about travelers who don’t know for sure, are looking for a weekend getaway, are open to suggestions or more aspirational travelers? The Starwood Hotel Explorer gives those travelers an opportunity to find travel destinations and hotels based on their travel and activities interests not just price or location.
Projects like this are never finished and there is a lot more to the site than just this, a lot more planned and all the tweaks that always come once something of this size and complexity is put up live.