SPG iPad App

Client: Starwood Preferred Guest
Role: App Design / UI Design / Creative Direction

Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), the award-winning loyalty program from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. introduced an innovative and inspiring new app for iPad as well as an exciting new design to support iOS 7. The new SPG App for iPad app pushes the boundaries of current hospitality apps by uniting Starwood’s unique focus on design and photography, as well as both curated and real-time social content, into one mobile experience.

spgThe SPG App for iPad provides a seamless guest experience, simplifying and enriching both business and leisure travel. Starwood’s digital design team leveraged the iPad’s capacity for high-resolution, immersive photography to create an editorial-like experience akin to content one might expect from high-end travel magazines.

Mobile WebAwards – Best Travel App 2014
Webby Awards – Honoree for Travel App 2014
Behance – Featured on App Design Served

Key learnings from this project

Customers shop differently on different form factors

The iPad app was created to be more an editorial experience than the iPhone app which was more transactional because customers wanted to plan and dream more on the larger iPad screen.

One app design that customized to each customer

People always say they want to be able to customize their apps but they set them up less than 2% of the time. This app used social media and SPG profile data to curate different content for each customer.

Don’t put people in hotel photography

Our research uncovered an interesting insight that most people do not want to see other people in photos of a hotel they are considering booking. Removing the people increased conversion across the app.


Lean back, explore, and dream about your next hotel stay

Today’s travelers are increasingly using mobile devices to search for and explore destinations, as well as book rooms and other travel services.  Industry-wide, 40% of travel searches occur on mobile devices up from 25% in 2012. Starwood’s mobile bookings are growing at an annual rate of 1000% –five times greater than the annual growth rate of the web channel 10 years ago. The new Starwood apps deliver both the convenience and speed of the mobile traveler’s desire while highlighting the SPG lifestyle.


“I want to go to THAT hotel!”

One of the major areas of focus for the iPad was the design of the property pages.  The property pages are a section that we have spent years refining and we wanted to use the form factor of the iPad to display all of this information in a totally new way.

The iPad gave us the ability to bring our properties to life in a way that we never had before with Retina-quality images and the ability to lay out all of the property content in a simple, visual and editorial layout.  The property pages used the same swipe interaction mechanic we established on the home screen to explore all the different areas of the property but also gave the user a menu on the first screen which allowed them to jump to the content they wanted to explore. From there, they can see all the property photos laid out on one page, explore all the room types available at the hotel, see what guest services the hotel offers, look at the hotel restaurants and review guest ratings. We also made the local area section special by overlaying popular Four Square data on top of the map so you can see the location of the hotel and see the best things that are available to see and eat during your stay.


Over 64,000 Retina-quality images

With over 64,000 Retina-quality images the SPG iPad app brings Starwood’s properties to life in quality, color, and level of detail never seen on any digital platform.

Customers loved it and kept it on their phones.

4.75 out of 5 stars lifetime rating in the iTunes App Store
(5 out of 5 stars for the past 6 releases)

4.3 out of 5 stars in the Google Play Store
(4,700+ reviews)

80% app retention rate



The best of what’s around

The SPG iPad app uses a curated FourSquare feed to show guests the best shopping, attractions, and restaurants around all of our hotels worldwide. This brings the property to life in a new way that is dynamic, up-to-date, and unique for each of the 1,200+ Starwood hotels. This is a change from most apps that can be found throughout the app in the way social media is used throughout the app. Instead of just allowing users to check in through social networks, the app curated content from those networks to create unique experiences and recommendations.

Personalized recommendations based on your social media behavior

Parts of the app leverage data from the user’s social media profiles to dynamically customize content in the app for things like recommended hotels and curated lists of hotels your friends have stayed at. We felt that using social media in this way created an experience that was much more customized and personalized than any other travel app in the market.



A new way to explore Starwood’s 9 brands

The other area we really want to bring to life was the Starwood brand section. This was an area that was never really able to be brought to life in other mobile channels and we thought that iPad was perfect to really let guests explore all the aspects of our brands. The section uses modular design so there is a common structure but because each brand has a different amount of content the structure allows the design to expand and contract to meet the needs of that content.


Great design and experiences that drove business-changing results.

80k to 5m users within 6 months of launch.

( Half of all SPG customers )

5-star rating within 6 months of the relaunch.

( Globally for Android and iOS )

Beat mobile revenue targets by at least 15% for 10 consecutive quarters.