Starwood Meetings Gets Final Touches

By Heather Baldwin

As of October, all pieces are in place for the Starwood Meetings program, an effort aimed at boosting customer satisfaction by standardizing and improving the meetings experience across all Starwood brand hotels. “We knew customers weren’t happy with the onsite meeting service, so we sat down and said, Let’s go through Six Sigma to understand it and fix it,” says Dave Scypinski, senior vice president industry relations for Starwood Hotels & Resorts. The results of that effort began rolling out in June; the last component, the StarMeeting Concierge, was rolled out Oct. 1 at 69 of its 81 big hotels. The program will roll out to the rest of those properties in the future, Scypinski says.

The biggest change attendees will see is increased communication between staff members – and a whole lot more of those members on the meeting room floor. The StarMeeting Concierge, for instance, remains on the floor making rounds, helping to ease transitions and lend a hand during busy times. He or she also acts as a problem solver and expeditor so meetings flow smoothly. But the Concierge isn’t the only one available. Starwood’s new meetings standards ensure that the general manager, convention services manager, sales manager, banquet manager and banquet captain also are involved in your meeting right from the start. Each manager will know the details of your group and your agenda and will be empowered to solve problems and proactively work to prevent them.

Other initiatives under the Starwood Meetings umbrella include improved communications. Meeting planners can check the availability of meeting space online, then submit RFPs online. At the meeting itself, in-house phones in every meeting room ensure requests will be expedited. And all managers are equipped with cell phones and walkie-talkies, so they’re always within reach. Finally Starwood streamlined the paperwork process by replacing individual forms with straightforward, universal documentation that can be emailed to planners rather than faxed or sent via snail mail.

Is it working? The numbers say yes. Scypinski says he looks at the monthly meeting planner satisfaction scores to tell him how he’s doing. In June, when the Starwood Meetings rollout began, the numbers started to rise. July and August numbers looked even better, he says, “so there’s definitely upward trending.”

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