Name: Christie Hicks
Title: Senior vice president, Starwood Sales Organization
Company, city: Starwood Hotels & Resorts; Stamford, Conn.
Number of employees: 171,000 worldwide
Recent project: With our goal to be the easiest hotel company to do business with, we developed StarwoodPro, an educational program to provide our travel professional partners with tools and programs to help grow their business. We recently introduced a new core module on upselling to help them increase loyalty and profits. The program offers six modules geared toward business development and a growing library of destination immersions, including nine options, with more to come in 2014.
First job: Secretary, Hyatt Regency New Orleans
Little-known fact about you: I learned to speak and cook Italian while living in Italy in my 20s. I make a mean spaghetti carbonara.
Essential business philosophy: Please your customers and the rest will follow.
Best way to keep a competitive edge: Always ask, “What could we have done better?”
Yardstick of success: Being emulated by your competition and talked about by your customers.
Christie Hicks as a Traveler
What is the most important item you take when traveling? My iPad mini
How do you spend your time on board? Reading and sleeping
What is your favorite restaurant in the world? Café des Artistes in Puerto Vallarta
What is your favorite destination? Anywhere in Italy
About Starwood Hotels & Resorts
What features and amenities are available at Starwood Hotels to attract business travelers? Starwood is the most global high-end hotel company, and our nine lifestyle brands — Sheraton, Westin, St. Regis, W Hotels, Le Méridien, The Luxury Collection, Element, Aloft and Four Points by Sheraton — offer a variety of accommodations in 100 countries around the world. We continue to expand our portfolio and have openings in 2014 in key growth markets including China, Brazil, Mexico, the Middle East, Indonesia and Africa.
We offer business travelers accommodations and innovations that help them perform during their travels, including social spaces such as the [email protected] experienced with Microsoft and Sheraton Club; Tangent at Westin workspace for small, impromptu meetings; and fitness programs like Westin Gear Lending with New Balance, SuperfoodsRX, Sheraton Fitness by Core Performance and Color Your Plate to help business travelers maintain their healthy lifestyle on the road.
What does Starwood do to attract millennial travelers? We’re driving industry firsts in digital, mobile and social innovations which differentiate Starwood from its competitors. We were the first in the industry to launch unedited ratings and reviews, the first to leverage state-aware technology on our mobile applications, the first to build an iPad app on Apple’s new iOS7 and the first to offer mobile check-in. We are investing $100 million in mobile, R&D, and on-property and associate innovation in the digital space.
Tell us about the unique benefits to frequent travelers enrolled in the SPG program. Starwood Preferred Guest, our award-winning loyalty program for all nine Starwood brands, rewards members with Starpoints for hotel stays and amenities and provides once-in-a-lifetime experiences pertaining to our guests’ interests in music, sports and culture. SPG’s breakthrough policy of no blackout dates at the world’s most sought-after collection of hotels reinvented the hospitality loyalty program when it launched in 1999. We offer frequent business travelers three tiers of membership with best-in-class earning and redemption options for free nights, personal ambassadors, Lifetime status and more. We recently announced an industry-first partnership with Delta Air Lines called Crossover Rewards, which extends loyalty outside the hotel room and beyond the window seat, enriching the experience for elite travelers. SPG members can now earn Starpoints on eligible Delta flights; receive coveted benefits of Delta Medallion members and vice versa; and they can redeem Starpoints for room upgrades with no blackout dates, flights, merchandise, spa amenities, unique experiences and exclusive events through Moments by SPG. Our SPG App for iPhone and Android uses state-aware technology, allowing members to view hotel information, check-in history and point balance, and has been downloaded more than 2 million times.
People need a “chance to get some well-needed rest, relaxation and fresh air.” This is a sentiment we all likely share, as does the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union. The EC included that phrase when it released its plan to help reopen Europe following the COVID-19 global pandemic. While most EU borders remain closed to international travel until at least mid-June, the EC’s plan starts with inter-Europe travel, and are non-binding recommendations and guidelines. European countries still have the final decision, so travelers are advised to check the restrictions of the countries they plan to visit. According to the EC, “blanket restrictions of free movement are replaced by targeted measures.”
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