STARWOOD HOTELS AND RESORTS REINFORCE COMMITMENT TO INNOVATION IN THE UAE
Company champions innovation across the country with the launch of new operational and digital innovation initiatives
Dubai, UAE –24 November 2015:Starwood Hotels and Resorts in the UAE reinforced its commitment to innovation acrossthe country by participating in the first UAE Innovation Week (22-28 November). Since the beginning of the year, the company has launched120newoperational projects to drive innovation across its 26 properties in the UAE. The company also continues to drive digital innovation across the country with the UAE’s firsthotel to offer a truly mobile, keyless check-in and the launch of new personalisation initiatives.
The UAE remains Starwood’s largest market in the Middle East with 26 operational hotels and 15 hotels in its development pipeline. Dubai is home to 16 hotels, representing the largest concentration of Starwood hotels anywhere in the world except New York.
“The UAE Innovation Week is a chance for us to recognise innovation on a wider scale and also to ‘take-stock’ on the fantastic campaigns which we’ve already initiated across the UAE, which is our largest market in the Middle East region,” said Guido de Wilde, Senior Vice President, Regional Director, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Middle East. “We are extremely proud to be contributing to more than 800 events and projects from the federal and local government along with private sector bodies, which is a countrywide co-ordination, born from the directives of the President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.”
“This is a forward-thinking initiative spearheaded by the government and allows the public and private sector to unite to share best practices and ideas, so Starwood is delighted to be involved with the UAE Innovation Week,” continued Guido de Wilde.
One of the newest programmes, which will take place during the week, is Starwood’s very firstOperational Innovation (OI) competition which encourages innovation from within the organization. Run across all of Starwood’s properties in Europe, Middle East and Africa, the Middle East competition finals will take place in Dubai with hotel associates from across the region participating.
Cross functional hotel teams will participate in Operational Innovation workshops facilitated by Lean Six Sigma black belts to generate incremental and breakthrough ideas that add value to their stakeholders. The UAE hotels will see over 250 hotel associates participating in these workshops during the UAE innovation week.
The culmination event will take place on November 26 when teams pitch theirconcepts to a panel of judges who will then pick the winning ideas which will be funded and assigned senior leaders as project mentors.
“Within Starwood, the Operational Innovation team's mission is to improve the guest experience, make associates’ lives easier and increase revenue by creating and embedding a culture of innovation,” comments Nitin Thariyan,Regional Director of Operational Innovation, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Middle East. “At Starwood we are committed to nurturing innovation from within the company and we do this by executing a programme of events and projects that enable our associates to carry out process improvement using Lean and Six Sigma innovation tools
The Operational Innovationteam in the Middle East currently consists of 152 associates. The Oi community in the entire Middle East consists of one Master Blackbelt, seven Black Belts, 101 Green Belts and 151 Yellow Belts of which 100 associates are in the UAE. In 2015,Starwood Middle East Certified 25 Green Belts and 12 Yellow Belts.
In 2015 UAE hotels alone have launched 161Operational Innovation projects which impact Supply Chain, Finance, IT, Sales, Marketing, Human Resources and the Core Guest Experience Processes.
Starwood is also focused on bringing deeper personalization to hospitality, using technology to transform all phases of the travel experience.Continuing to champion digital innovation in the UAE, Starwood recently launched the country’sfirst truly keyless check-in system at the Aloft Abu Dhabi. Working on combination of Bluetooth and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) app technology, Keyless allows guests to use their smart phones or Apple watches to enter their room, bypassing a traditional check-in andfast-tracking their entry to the hotel.
Piloted in the region at W Doha Hotel & Residences, Let’s Chatis another innovative concept which is currently in operation at 24 properties across the UAE.The service empowers guests to use their personal mobile devices to engage with the hotel. Guests can communicate a variety of requests from booking dinner reservations to asking for a wake-up call through Whatsapp, Blackberry Messenger and iMessage instead of calling the front desk.
Starwood has also collaborated with like-minded, innovative businesses to broaden and expand the experience and loyalty offerings for guests and embrace collaborative innovation. Recently, StarwoodPreferred Guest, the company’saward-winning loyalty program,launchedthe Middle East’s most rewarding hospitality card with UAE’s leading bank Emirates NBD. In the past year it has also collaborated with Emirates Airlines to provide reciprocal benefits to SPG® and Emirates Skywards® members and with Uber, to give members the opportunity to earn Starpoints during any Uber ride, anywhere in the world.
About Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with more than 1,200 properties in some 100 countries and over 180,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels, resorts and residences with the following internationally renowned brands: St. Regis®, The Luxury Collection®, W®, Westin®, Le Méridien®, Sheraton®, Four Points® by Sheraton, Aloft®, Element® and the recently introduced Tribute Portfolio™. The Company boasts one of the industry’s leading loyalty programs, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG®), allowing members to earn and redeem points for room stays, room upgrades and flights, with no blackout dates. Starwood recently announced plans to spin off its Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc. business, a premier provider of world-class vacation experiences through villa-style resorts and privileged access to Starwood brands, into a standalone public company by the end of 2015.