Starwood Hotels Testing Google Glass App, but Is It Too Early?

Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide will soon release its Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) app for Google Glass, calling it “the first of its kind from a hospitality company.”

The SPG app enables guests to find nearby hotels and book rooms by preference, as well as to connect to a hotel’s services, pull up maps, and access customer support, among other features.

According to Starwood, the SPG app for Google Glass will take advantage of the platform’s voice command and geolocation features and allow users to voice search its more than 1,150 hotels. The app will also provide turn-by-turn directions to any hotel; allow users to explore photos of amenities, rooms, or local areas; and it will use state aware technology to display upcoming stay details, recognize arrivals, and customize experiences.

Starwood says its goal with Glass and other wearable technologies is “to explore what kinds of new features and services are possible and to learn from guests’ experiences.”

Per the SPG for Glass website, the app is in beta and will be updated based on member feedback.

A Starwood rep was not available for comment by deadline.

However, according to Joe Laszlo, senior director of the Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence at the IAB, it’s “definitely really, really early days for anybody to develop apps for Google Glass with a kind of serious commercial perspective to them” because “the audience isn’t large enough [yet for it] to be an appealing platform.”

And while Laszlo says it’s also too early for there to be best practices for Google Glass app development, he does suggest that works around it could lead to some benefits. App developers have to take into consideration different devices, which, if mobile fragmentation continues, could lead to some flexibility in the system that will make it easier to redevelop an app for user interfaces. 

In the future, he says, Google Glass app developers will likely have to keep things even simpler than they do for phone screens, noting that beneficial features in a Google Glass app might include taps on the side of the device instead of touches.

Laszlo also says this is an interesting moment to be developing apps for Google Glass and the wearables market, which will only grow over time.

Acknowledging this is the first app in the works for Google Glass that he has heard about, Laszlo also recalls Starwood was the first hotel chain to build a hotel in the virtual world Second Life in the early 2000s.

“I think it’s cool Starwood is experimenting. That’s good for the brand. Lots of young, techy, innovative people pay attention,” Laszlo says. “I think that’s positive and you never know which will take off and become a mass phenomenon. Second Life didn’t, but if you’re willing to experiment, it does good things and one thing will pay off someday.”

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