Starwood’s Star Power

The company unveils new story-driven DVD sales tools

By: Marty Wentzel

While vacationing at the Sheraton Maui Resort, a man finds a ring. In the following days, he meets a beautiful girl, only to find out that the ring belongs to her. The ring brings them together and they fall madly in love.

Then there’s the story about the man who gets to spend time with his daughter while his ex-wife is away on business. He takes her to the Westin Maui Resort and Spa, where the girl is transformed and they rejuvenate their relationship.

Too good to be true? Perhaps. But these feel-good scenarios are examples of the latest travel agent sales innovation from Starwood Hotels and Resorts Hawaii, which has created seven DVDs about specific island properties.

Each Starwood DVD contains a clever short film with a story line set to the backdrop of the particular property. Five to 10 minutes long, it demonstrates the chemistry that clients might discover at the hotel, while showcasing the resort’s services, facilities and offerings. The DVDs are intended not only for travel agents but meeting planners and consumers, said Cheryl Williams, regional vice president of sales and marketing for Starwood in Hawaii.

“The use of short films within sales tools has been deployed in other industries, but Starwood Hawaii is on the forefront of the travel industry in using this innovative combination of entertainment and communication of product,” said Williams. “The films result from the creative energy of our advertising agency, the talents of numerous production companies here in Hawaii and Starwood Hawaii’s eagerness to get our message across via extraordinary means.”

According to Williams, the story lines are a far cry from the standard hotel sales videos that highlight a property’s features via commercial footage. Starwood’s short films aim to draw the viewer into the story to experience the properties in a more involved and emotional way, she said.

In one scenario, a nine-year-old boy from Japan meets a nine-year-old boy from the U.S. while vacationing at the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani. Through a series of silly mishaps, the two boys get to know each other, share cultural experiences and end up becoming buddies for life.

In another story line, a defeated high-fashion New York designer flees the criticism of a cruel and unforgiving public and escapes to the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort and Spa, where she finds inspiration again in the quiet beauty which surrounds her.

One premise involves vacationers at the Honolulu International Airport learning that their flight has been delayed until the next day. Two strangers a free-spirited young woman and an uptight businesswoman meet at the Royal Hawaiian and share a day of adventure and self-discovery.

Then there’s the tale of the little girl who loses her favorite stuffed toy during a family vacation in Hawaii. Picked up by different vacationers, the toy shares the experiences of the travelers as they take part in the many family-friendly activities available at the oceanfront Sheraton Waikiki.

The history of the Sheraton Moana Surfrider is captured in a story about a young woman who finds a trinket box filled with memories. She retraces her grandparents’ romance by experiencing the hotel for herself.

“This was our initial launch schedule for our properties,” said Williams. “We hope to have additional films for our other Hawaii properties soon.”

Following the feature presentation, each DVD provides an introduction to the hotel, its rooms, meetings facilities, dining options, amenities, activities and Web site. Viewers can select the information they need and watch a short video edit of that topic. Each DVD features live links to Starwood Web sites for more information.

Starwood also plans to place the movie content on each property’s Web site, and they will run it on Internet sites like Video.Google.com and YouTube.com. According to Williams, Starwood can track the success of the project through the total online revenue generated from Web sites that house the DVD content, as well as from click-throughs from the links on the DVDs themselves.

“The technological richness of our DVDs will allow us to determine how much business is being generated and where the business is coming from,” she said.

THE DETAILS

Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ new, complimentary sales DVDs are available from seven Starwood Hawaii properties, including: the Sheraton Maui Resort and Westin Maui Resort and Spa; the Royal Hawaiian, Sheraton Moana Surfrider, Sheraton Waikiki and Sheraton Princess Kaiulani on Oahu; and the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort and Spa on the Big Island. Travel agents can also request the DVDs online via Starwood’s travel agent Web site. After a quick registration, they can order copies of the DVDs and hotel brochures, as well as take advantage of exclusive travel agent offers and programs.
800-782-9488
www.starwoodhawaii.com/agents

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