Starwood’s Social Experiment: Will It Succeed or Fail?

This is a view from the hotel balcony of the Le Méridien Nice hotel property earlier this year. Photograph by FlyerTalk member SKYEG. Click on the photograph for a trip report written by SKYEG.

“What happens when your travel life, your social life and your SPG life collide?” asks FlyerTalk member Starwood Lurker IV — an official company representative also known as Christopher Carman, who is a social media specialist for Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide.
The answer is called SPG Social, “the Facebook-connected experience that brings you, your friends and what’s trending in travel together to help you explore, plan and enjoy every journey” which will provide “personalized hotel recommendations, all based on your stay history, as well as your facebook ‘likes’ and check-ins, and the facebook ‘likes’ and check-ins of your friends who are also using SPG Social.” Your experience supposedly gets more personal as you invite more friends to connect to and use SPG Social.
You can also create:
  • A wish list of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide hotel properties where you would like to stay in the future
  • An itinerary based on what your friends and other members of the Starwood Preferred Guest frequent guest loyalty program have enjoyed before your stay — and you can share your itinerary with others
  • A review once your stay has concluded

Although I have not seen further details at this time, you will supposedly be able to set your preferences as to what information you would like to share and not share with others.
One interesting feature which has potential, in my opinion, is the ability to surprise a friend with an amenity when he or she stays at a W hotel property. There are no further details on this feature, such as cost or whether it will be expanded to other brands of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide.
SPG Social is currently in ßeta and has not been officially released yet — ergo, the social experiment. Carman posts that more features will be added to SPG Social, although there are no further details about what features are being considered.
There is also a survey as to what you think of SPG Social. However — judging by the responses of FlyerTalk members at the time of the writing of this article — this idea has not been too popular:

  • “Hmm.. one of the criteria is for the app to be able to post spam about my wishlist. No thank you.” — FlyerTalk member PTahCha
  • “This ongoing trend where companies need access to my friends list for these apps to work and can post on my behalf is going to be the death of facebook. I should be able to dictate if I want my ‘facebook friends’ (some who I cant even remember how I know them) to know that I am on vacation. Nothing like announcing to the world that my apartment is unattended.” — FlyerTalk member Ashasan2005
  • “Sorry, TMI. I feel like I’m already too far out there as it is. If anything, I need to cut back on ‘social’.” — FlyerTalk member Flews

I enjoy using various forms of social media — but not when it gets too personal for me. Besides, I am having a difficult time ascertaining my “return on investment” — so to speak, for lack of a better term — in SPG Social. I would initially conclude that SPG Social is just not for me at this time — but I will keep an open mind and see what further developments are introduced to it.
What do you think? Am I missing something here? Will you participate in SPG Social — or is this another tool which has the potential to further diminish your privacy?

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