About half a year after offering its loyalty program members the chance to earn rewards by checking in on Foursquare, Starwood Hotels and Resorts has launched a similar program through
Chinese location-based clone site Jiepang.com.
By linking their Jiepang accounts to their Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) accounts, travelers can earn bonus points for check-ins at more than 200 hotels in the Asia-Pacific region. Every month, Jiepang’s SPG Mayor, the person with the most check-ins, will earn special program perks and a moment in the spotlight in the form of an interview running on the SPG Jiepang landing page.
Jiepang, founded in 2010, has 1.4 million users, making it much smaller than its U.S.-based counterpart, Foursquare (more than 10 million) or Chinese microblog service Weibo (over 300 million).
Starwood’s partnership with this year-old Chinese social media start-up accompanies big development moves in the country. About a dozen Sheratons opened in China in 2011, and Starwood hopes to operate 100 properties there by the end of 2012. The Sheraton brand should account for about half of those, and Starwood and other Western hotel companies are turning their development focus from China’s biggest coastal cities to second- and third-tier inland locations.
The move also follows a recent trend toward more careful consideration of Chinese travelers beyond the Asia-Pacific region. This summer, “Starwood Personalized Travel” and “Hilton Huanying” were launched to better cater to the needs of Chinese guests at select hotels within the Starwood and Hilton families. Mandarin-speaking staff, tea kettles in the rooms and congee at the breakfast buffet are some of the amenities, standard at mainland hotels, now increasingly available in places like New York, London and Mexico City.
Photo: Starwood, St. Regis Lhasa
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