Marriott announced today that it had agreed to buy Starwood Hotels for $12.2 billion in cash and stock. Not only will the merger create the largest hotel company worldwide, it will combine two of the top providers of low-touch luxury. L2’s Insight Report on the in-stay experience at luxury hotels finds that both brands are leaders in providing seamless, customized guest experiences through mobile apps.
Starwood was the first hotel group to introduce keyless checking, rolling out the new feature to W Hotels in November 2014. Keyless checking helps guests bypass the front desk by displaying their room number, which they can unlock by holding up their phone up to the scanner. Starwood has extended this feature to the brand’s Apple Watch app, which also provides a list of transportation options upon guest arrival and allows guests to pre-order drinks from the hotel bar.
Marriott was an early adopter of mobile check-in two years ago, and has since then extended the feature to its entire portfolio. In April, Marriott logged its one millionth mobile check-in. In addition to mobile check-in, Marriott’s beacon-powered Guest Services app (separate from the main Marriott app) gives guests geo-targeted push notifications with offers relevant to hotel amenities. (For example, they might receive a discount for a massage at a hotel spa.) Plans for the Swirl-powered app include customized offers for loyalty program members.
Luxury is now being defined as convenience, accessibility, and independence from sales and customer service representatives. This has led to the burgeoning of in-stay services available on mobile apps, and competition in execution quality and the quantity of services offered.