|Already a game changer in the hospitality industry, Starwood Hotels & Resorts continues to impress with plans for more hotels and a double win among our readers.|
“We are thrilled that the readers of Recommend have recognized Starwood and awarded us the Best Resort/Hotel Chain in Europe and Best Resort/Hotel Chain in Asia. The travel professional community is one that we value greatly,” says Chris Austin, Starwood’s v.p. of global retail leisure and luxury sales.
“Starwood has worked tirelessly to earn the trust of our travel professionals partners. We are committed to the travel agency channel and also to delivering valuable and relevant tools, programs and education to simply make doing business with Starwood that much easier. Our brands and the customer are at the center of what we do,” he adds. “Our nine world-class brands—St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W Hotels, Le Meridien, Westin, Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton, Element and Aloft—provide powerful, emotional guest experiences, and are brands that give the travel professional the confidence in booking any one of our more than 1,071 hotels and resorts around the globe.”
In fact, Austin explains, more than half of Starwood’s hotels are now located internationally, in more than 100 countries. “We are where travel professionals’ customers are and where they desire to travel. We continue to be laser focused in our support of the travel professional and in contact with as many of them to learn how we can be a better partner and provide services they can use. That focus is a reason why our travel professional partners voted for us in these two important categories,” he says.
Starwood is continuing to grow with quite a few openings around the world, in 2012 and beyond. The European continent will soon see the debut of Le Meridien Etiler in Istanbul, the W Paris Opera, the W Milan, The Westin Hamburg and the W Verbier.
“In Asia, our development of new hotels is incredibly strong, with more than 150 new hotel projects committed and under development,” explains Austin. “A few of those openings include the St. Regis Shenzhen, the W Guangzhou, the Royal Bagonia and The St. Regis Resort in Sanya, China, The Westin Jaipur, the W Singapore, and the Naka Island Resort, a member of The Luxury Collection in Phuket.”
Starwood has recently welcomed the 25,000th graduate of its award-winning ProLearning program, says Austin, with many travel professionals using newly launched destination modules. ProLearning is an online training program that helps travel pros better understand each of Starwood’s brands and advance both sales and business development skills. Each of the training modules offers video, audio and other learning aids. “Our new destination module teaches travel professionals to sell with the art of story selling. Recently launched destinations in this module include Starwood Hawaii, Starwood Caribbean, Starwood Mexico, Starwood Maldives, and soon to launch will be Starwood Fiji, Starwood Florida and Starwood Sanya in China,” explains the v.p. Professionals who complete the first module of ProLearning qualify for exclusive benefits, including access to STARPRO travel professional rates.