Business travel is back and business is booming for Starwood, with occupancy already above the pre-GFC peak of 2007 and over two dozen new hotels opening this year in key cities around Asia.
“Business travel drives 75% of our total revenue so it’s a big part of our business” says Daniella Tonetto, Regional Dierctor of Sales & Marketing for Starwood Pacific.
“A lot of our top global accounts – predominately in the financial sector, management, consulting and high tech – are back on the road.”
Tonetto says this is also reflected by the surge in membership of its Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program, with every second guest in a Starwood property now holding an SPG card.
“One of the biggest selling points is that we have no blackout dates – you can redeem awards any time for any destination – and it’s fully transferable to most frequent flyer programs, which makes the SPG program very easy to work with.”
But the new business traveller isn’t quite the same as the old business traveller.
“The traveller is evolving, there’s this whole set of Generation Y which is now out biggest consumer group, so we’re introducing more brands such as W and Aloft to suit that generation.”
The Aloft hotels are nominally four-start properties but with a fresher feel and what Tonetto calls “the DNA of a W, without the huge funky restaurant or bar but at a lower price point.”
While there are no plans to launch the Aloft brand in Australia, Starwood has begin work on a new Sheraton in Melbourne in 2013.
Part of the 27 Little Collins Street project, between Spring Street and Exhibition Street, the Sheraton Melbourne will feature 162 deluxe guest rooms and eight luxury suites with an indoor heated lap pool (below), spa and a “signature restaurant”.