Starwood launches Twitter, Facebook and iPhone apps for loyalty program

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Starwood Hotels & Resorts is using a suite of Twitter, Facebook and iPhone applications to enhance its Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) loyalty program.

The social media tools, which can also be downloaded by non-members, include SPG TripShare, a Facebook photo application developed with Buddy Media. Mike Lazerow, CEO of Buddy Media, explained that Starwood's goal is to create loyalty among and retention of current customers, “but getting new members is always great.” The apps can be accessed at www.spg.com/stayconnected.

“It's a much different use of photos than the typical Facebook album,” Lazerow said. “We're focused on leveraging Facebook to create a better travel photo experience focused around discovery and self-expression.”

He explained that Facebook members can generally only see pictures from their friends' albums, but this app allows them to view photos from users across the social networking Web site. The Facebook app, which launched October 12, has 15,000 users, according to Lazerow.

SPG also launched a travel tips “mash-up” using Twitter and Google Maps. SPG Insider enables travelers to Tweet about restaurants, bars and entertainment destinations around the world from their Twitter application of choice. The app then uploads the tip and places it on the map using longitude and latitude coordinates. Other travelers can search the map for ideas on places to go near their locations. Starwood hotel concierges around the world will also participate in the Twitter application by posting reviews.

SPG's iPhone application allows members to access travel information, check their Starpoints balance and get door-to-door directions to hotels. The app can be found at www.spg.com/iPhoneApp.

A Starwood representative could not be immediately reached for comment.

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