[ 60 Seconds ] with Starwood Preferred Guest

One of our predictions last year was that alternative media would become a new communication channel for programs. With the launch of The Lobby for Starwood SPG members, it seems the time has come. Here’s our 60 Seconds with Jennifer O’Connor, Senior Manager, Loyalty & Direct Marketing for Starwood Hotels.

The Lobby from SPG

Give us the background on The Lobby.
Jennifer O’Connor
We wanted to create a unique concept of content and articles in this blog that would not only speak about properties and hotels, but also things like what you can do around the hotels, thus giving a personality to our hotels. So beyond how many rooms and conference halls a hotel has, you can go on the blog and find out some unique things about the city you’re visiting or what are the best travel gadgets to bring with you, or what’s the best suitcase to have.

You will be able to search different categories. One of the categories we have is a “four-block radius,” and what this means is we’re talking to different people in the hotel for insider tricks, like where to get the best cappuccino in Denver.

TheLobby.com is proud to present a new bi-monthly series called “Lurker In The Lobby.” “The Starwood Lurker,” a frequent contributor to the popular FlyerTalk forums, will be sharing his thoughts and insights on various issues related to Starwood and the Starwood Preferred Guest Program.

To help keep Starwood Preferred Guests on top of the latest travel trends, Starwood and ElectricArtists have assembled a team of travel writers to contribute to this site. Every weekday this site will be covering the latest and greatest in worldwide travel.

As you know, blogs have a lot of buzz, but they also have a lot of negativity. They tend to start out really fast then slow down.
We have a plan in place to have five to seven articles daily, but there is a commitment on our part to keep articles fresh and updated. We didn’t want to refurbish what we [already] had because it would lose its validity. But if you have useful articles, then people will want to visit it daily.

We noticed there are categories within the blog, but not a unique category for the SPG program. Will you develop additional blogs in the future that are more about SPG?
There should be a category that is just for SPG. It must have been taken out. I will add that back in.

This is in its first phase; we announced it to our Platinum members, and FlyerTalk started talking about it. But it’s still in a limited release. It’s not password-limited. We really wanted to make adjustment before the hard launch later in April.

As it grows, we want to add to it, whether it be podcasts, comments or a forum type of environment, videos. We wanted to get a response and go from there.

So you’re already thinking that there are generations beyond this. You mentioned podcasts, which in a way has a good buzz, and some other forum ideas. When I look through this I see a very expensive effort. You’ve got feedback, you have four writers, a publisher and editor. That’s a lot to be throwing at this. Does your partner ElectricArtists specialize in these types of initiatives?
We spoke to a number of agencies, but to bring it in-house we would have been too close to it. We wanted it to be third-party. I think a lot of people create blogs, and we felt it deserved expertise.

I found it unique that you decided to create its own name and URL. Will the blog be part of Starwood.com?
Come April, it will be integrated to SPG.com, where you will see links to the blog. In terms of the URL being different, we really wanted to step outside the corporate box. The Lobby is a place to go and find out what’s happening. When you’re inside The Lobby you’re a part of us.

The point you made earlier is that is doesn’t come across as a corporate blog. This has all the identity you find in the Starwood name.
What did you think of the illustration?

It’s very hip. It reminds me of The New Yorker, magazine and recent United Airlines ads and the color in the illustration is very different.

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