SPG Smartphone Apps

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

Today’s travelers use mobile devices to search for and explore destinations and book rooms like never before.  Mobile apps allow Starwood to connect with guests like never before and give them the information they need when needed.

As a result, Starwood’s mobile bookings are growing at an annual rate five times greater than the annual growth rate of the web channel 10 years ago. The SPG app is the first in the travel industry—and one of the first apps ever—to utilize state-aware technology, creating an interface that unites all nine of Starwood’s distinct lifestyle brands and its nearly 1,200 hotels and resorts; and adjusts the app’s look, feel and content depending on whether the user is planning, en route or already checked in to a specific hotel.

App 100 – 
World’s 100 Greatest Apps
Webby Awards
– Honoree for Travel App 2015 (Android App)
Webby Awards – Honoree for Travel App 2014 (iOS App)
Mobile WebAwards – Best Travel App 2014
Behance – Featured on App Design Served

Key learnings from this project

Put customers at the center of everything

We were able to create such a compelling experience because we used customer insights, experiences, and feedback to guide product development.

Understand your real customer journey

We create a single customer journey map based on multiple data sources that let every team understand the real customer journey and align all their roadmaps.

Design for the future

Using proactive content curation as the central design concept let us create a platform that allowed us to easily adapt to changing customer needs.


Dynamic content curation with state-aware user experience design

 Starting 48 hours before a guest is scheduled to arrive at a Starwood hotel or resort, the app sends a push notification; and the “My Stay” interface becomes reflective of the specific brand and property, with home-screen access to key information such as hotel address in both English and the local language, weather, directions, and hotel amenities.  Once at the hotel, the guest’s stay is enhanced with integrated content such as their room number, on- and off-property dining and activity suggestions, and in-app access to social media channels such as FourSquare and Facebook.


Created with Google Material Design

The Android version of the SPG app has been completely re-design to take advantage of the new Material design language from Google. This new version has a more modern, flat, and clean look with the same concept that guests love, with a 4.3 star out of 5 user rating from over 3,000 reviews. The SPG app for Android also won an honoree for the Travel App category in the 2014 Webby Awards.


Doing business in more languages than the United Nations.

With the SPG app, we were strategic in looking to see which global markets needed the robust functionality of an app and which would be best served by our movie websites. The app is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Japanese. The Chinese version differs from the rest in considering the unique travel and usability patterns that occur with Chinese guests.


One part of an ecosystem

All Starwood mobile apps were designed with a shared visual vocabulary and navigational structure which allows for users to easily acclimate to the apps but they also take advantage of the pros and cons of each form factor. Navigation across all SPG desktop and mobile experiences use navigation that uses search, account, and a general menu icon. Search and account are the top two features across all SPG digital experiences and the general menu allows us to display all other functionality that is available in that experience.

Average user rating

4.75 out of 5 stars in the Apple App Store 

4.4 out of 5 stars in the Google Play Store (4,800+ reviews)


Designing apps before there were apps

The first version of the SPG smartphone app was created as a basic WAP site which grew into a mobile website that grew into an app for the original iPhone. This process of learning and evolution has continued year after year and version after version as we constantly evolve our thinking and design with the ever-evolving platforms.

Covered in over 140 press outlets

The SPG app for Apple Watch has been featured by over 140 press outlets across top-tier national, tech, travel, and broadcast press. Notable coverage included The New York Times (print and online), CNN, CNBC, The Wall Street Journal, TechCrunch, TODAY.com, Re/Code, and Financial Times, among many others.

Featured in an Apple Keynote and the iTunes App Store


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.