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Starwood uses State Aware Technology to Energize Mobile App

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Starwood uses State Aware Technology to Energize Mobile App
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I’ve never aspired to become a lab rat. Over the years I learned that consuming large regular quantities of Diet Coke and Splenda would effectively make me the equivalent of the penned up rodent. Only when a flight attendant preached passionately to me in-flight about the harmful diuretic and dehydrating effects of Diet Coke on travelers at high altitude, did I soften my affinity for sweet soft drinks.

Marketers aspire to making the consumer a lab rat as well. By offering an incentive for execution of a specific behavior, they can observe our level of response and be able to judge the level of mercenary genes in our psyche.

The difference between the way marketers and food manufacturers approach behavior modification boils down to this: we unknowingly consume all sorts of products in our daily diet which we can’t pronounce and whose long term effects we do not understand. This is the real definition of a lab rat. They sit in a cage and are fed or injected with substances as part of an experiment. They have no control of their present or future state.

In the marketing context, we consumer rats voluntarily participate in the experiment. Sometimes the reasons are obvious, offer me 20% off if I tweet my intent to patronize a promoted merchant and pay with my Amex card and I get the prize.  Other times, the benefits are not so obvious, for instance we’re encouraged to “download this application to stay in touch with our brand”. I’ve experimented and downloaded so many apps on my Android phone that I now have a screen cluttered with unused icons – all because they added no value to my customer experience.

My heightened sense of lab-rat awareness also means that I am on the lookout for Smartphone apps that DO add to my customer experience and might have impact on my loyalty to a particular brand. That’s why Starwood’s announcement of a new mobile app using  “state-aware” technology distracted me from my cheese. Starwood already operates one of the best hotel rewards programs in the market – Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) – and the new app is designed to personalize the travel experience of patrons across all nine of its hotel brands.

The app works like this: the look, feel and content of the application adjusts dependent on the stage of travel a SPG member is enjoying. Planning a trip? Already confirmed at a hotel and on your way there in a rental car? Checked into your room and planning some post-meeting activites? The app takes all of this into consideration and adjusts to meet your needs.

Starting 48-hours before a guest is scheduled to arrive at a Starwood property, the app pings the member about the upcoming stay and the interface “home base” becomes the reserved hotel. Offering much more than weather, directions and hotel amenities, the guest’s stay is enhanced with integrated content such as their room number, on- and off-property dining and activity suggestions. Regrettably there is not an Android version available, so I’ve only been able to test out a few things on a family member’s phone before they recalled it to return to checking their Facebook page.

The Starwood app was created by Bottle Rocket Apps and I found more interesting information about State Aware and geofencing technology in this video and through the white papers here at the Point About web site.

Unlike lab rats, consumers do have control over their present and future state. We’ll briefly flirt with marketing offers motivated by mercenary thoughts, but in the longer term, we gravitate to where true value resides. Marketers should remember that when considering adding new technology to their loyalty programs.

Starwood did, and it will pay off for them over the near and long term.



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