Starwood is the Largest International Hotel Chain to Add this Functionality in a Move that Reflects its Commitment to Expanding Business in China
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT) today announced it has added comprehensive, online booking capabilities in Chinese to all of its Starwood-branded websites, including SPG.com. Now, Chinese speakers can use double byte Chinese characters to search for a hotel, make reservations, retrieve booking information or enroll in the Starwood Preferred Guest® program. This added capability underscores the importance of China to Starwood's future growth.
On track to be the world's largest tourism market by 2015, China is already Starwood's second largest hotel market with 70 existing hotels and more than 80 in the pipeline. One of every three new Starwood hotels is slated to open in China now through the end of 2011, including new brand flagships for eight of its nine brands. Meanwhile, China continues to lead the growth of the award-winning Starwood Preferred Guest program, representing the second largest market for SPG.
"It is essential that we provide a seamless experience for our Chinese customers, especially at a time when China's heightened appetite for our high-caliber global brands is having a phenomenal impact on our business," said Phil McAveety, Chief Brand Officer for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. "Starwood is the world's most global hotel company with more than 80% of all future hotels opening outside the United States. By communicating directly with our global customers, we make it easy for them to connect with our brands."
To meet growing demand, Starwood opened the largest Customer Contact Center of any international hotel company operating in China, in 2009. Located in Guangzhou, the center employs more than 160 associates to support Chinese-speaking customers traveling to Starwood's more than 1,000 hotels around the world. Starwood is also the only hospitality company in China that provides 24-hour customer support, 365 days a year, for its Chinese-speaking customers.
"Due to the strong growth of our online customer base in China, we have enhanced our branded websites to offer a superior online experience for Chinese speakers," said Miguel Ko, Chairman & President, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Asia Pacific. "Our mission has always been to listen to our customers and to stay ahead of changing trends and needs."
With the addition of Chinese, Starwood now offers websites in eight languages including English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Italian, French and Japanese. One fifth of the world's population, or more than one billion people, speak some variety of Chinese.