Focusing on Digital Capability Unlocks 60% ROI Increase for Starwood Hotels

Jennifer Armstrong / August 2017

As experts in the luxury hotel space, Starwood Hotels know a holiday begins wherever and whenever you start dreaming up the next trip. They also know that creating the best experience from the first “I-want-to-go” moment is serviced by a first-class culture of continuous digital learning. For their most recent training journey, Starwood put something new on the itinerary – find out how they created a robust data-driven marketing strategy and picture-perfect results.


Test a group-learning experience as part of their ongoing L&D strategy

Drive brand awareness and conversions online (particularly mobile and social)


Source a training solution broad enough to be relevant and actionable for people across specialisms


60% increase in ROI in display retargeting campaigns

100% growth in engagement rates on social

50% reduction in CPE to deliver real value from social advertising

The Starwood Hotels team had their sights set on increasing their presence in the mobile and social space. To achieve this, they booked their entire team onto Squared Online.

"We already knew the target audience for luxury hotels engage with travel content on the go, but hadn’t yet secured stakeholder sign-off,"  Katie Carroll, Associate Director Digital Brand Marketing, explains. "Right from the start, however, Squared [Online] gave all these frameworks about the role of social and mobile in the customer journey, which lent Google backing to our ideas and gave us the tools to sell them in."

The team secured the the go-ahead to fast-track a brand new data-driven social and mobile strategy. Having stuck historically to third party data, they expanded their targeting strategy and added first party data to the mix through a pixel on their website.

Katerina Orfanidi, Associate Director of Tactical Marketing talks us through their thinking. "Let’s say someone’s looking at W Barcelona. At that point they’re looking around, they’re open to inspiration; so we didn’t want to simply serve them up a series of ads for that same hotel. Instead we came up with dynamic “I-need-some-ideas” campaigns that bundled together multiple offers across several sunny European destinations."


It was just the ticket to a display ROI increase of 60%. What’s more, the Starwood team also found they had the skills to develop the end-to-end plan in-house; only then passing it on to their agency to manage.

Treading new ground

Customer-centric marketing for Starwood has always meant being able to ask: "Would 'I' as a user love this?" and knowing if the answer’s 'yes', their customers would too.

"That’s what kept us away for brand awareness activity for so long," Katie explains. "Every ad solution we looked at on social was too interruptive or unfriendly, and just didn’t fit the luxury market. Then we learned about mobile-first creative from Squared – and how to give our customers a great, optimised experience."

It was the right call. Creating a lookalike algorithm to reach prospects closely resembling their best customers doubled their engagement rates and reduced their CPE by 50% compared to desktop awareness activity.


Reviewing the learning journey

Looking after their guests to the highest standard comes as second nature to Starwood, and the same goes for taking care of their people.

"Developing and investing in our people is always a big focus for us," says Director of Digital Marketing Jessica Svensson. "What was unique about this particular learning experience was having everyone come together on the same journey. We found that as everyone came to the same new information at the same time, they developed this synchronised, shared language to try new things. We wouldn’t have seen the impact we have without it."

Award-winning results

Sunshine for their customers, but also for the team who delivered the magic too...

This campaign secured Starwood Hotels 'Digital Team of the Year in the 2016 Squared Awards'. Their plans are to keep innovating and get their hotel rates displayed in real time Search results on Google Hotels. Watch this space.

Legal & General’s starting steps into transformation bring back immediate value beyond ROI