Starwood’s Four Points by Sheraton brand is expanding and on track for its 200th opening in 2014. Travel Agent spoke with Brian McGuiness, SVP of specialty select brands for Starwood, for details on the brand and the company’s plans for travel agents.
“We just celebrated the opening of our 175th hotel,” McGuiness said. “In 2013 we’ll hit 120 hotels in North America alone, which is about a 20 percent increase over 2008.”
The brand has expanded in markets like Peru, Sri Lanka and Libya, and expects a significant push into Mexico, Malaysia and China in the next couple of years, McGuiness said.
“Business travelers are a focus for us, and travel agents play an important role in that,” McGuiness said. “I think there is a move for even the independent traveler moving back to travel agents because they are travel experts. The complexity of travel is growing because there are so many options. A travel agent who knows what the experience is going to be continues to be a critical component for that.”
The Four Points by Sheraton brand is typically aimed at the business traveler, and includes business-friendly touches like free bottled water, complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the hotel in North America and in lobbies and public spaces outside North America, McGuiness said.
“For 2014, we’ll crest well over the 200 mark,” McGuiness said. “We have 10 scheduled openings in Asia, South America and the Middle East over the next 12 months, and then we will continue to push our expansion in Canada, as well as hot markets down in South America.”