Starwood Responds to Biz Traveler Tech Demand with Virtual Meetings

State-of-the-art "virtual meeting" technology will debut at four hotels in Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.'s European portfolio.

The Le Méridien Etoile, Le Méridien Brussels, Le Méridien Parkhotel Frankfurt and the Le Méridien Munich will become the first of Starwood's European properties to introduce new meeting facilities showcasing Cisco Telepresence technology. All properties currently feature the new suites except the Le Méridien Parkhotel Frankfurt, which will debut its new facilities in late November.

The new facilities are part of a year-old partnership between Starwood Hotels and Tata Communications to build Cisco Telepresence rooms at properties worldwide. Starwood unveiled its first in-hotel Telepresence meeting suites earlier this year at The Sheraton Toronto, W Chicago City Center, the Sheraton on the Park Sydney and more recently, at the Sheraton Kuwait City. In late 2010, the Sheraton New York and The Westin Los Angeles Airport also introduced their own meeting suites. Other Starwood locations planning to launch soon include key domestic and international business markets such as Dallas, San Francisco and Hong Kong.

The public rooms located within each Starwood hotel will be linked to a wider Tata Communications Telepresence network via its Global Meeting Exchange. The Exchange enables meetings to take place between any private or public room on its network; as well as rooms on the networks of Tata Communications' Intercarrier-Exchange partners, BT and Telefonica, and the National Lamda Rail network, which links leading US universities. This network reach makes Telepresence a truly global collaboration tool.

Reservations for these telepresence rooms can be made instantly using the Tata Communications online portal, with a convenient payment capability that accepts all major credit cards.

Growing biz traveler trend?
As the world and the hotel industry grow increasingly more global, Starwood is continuing its constant pursuit of innovation, anticipating how tomorrow's travelers want to meet. The company is also responding to increased demand to incorporate technology, virtual meetings and social media into new meeting offerings for the next generation of business travelers.

"When clients are doing business globally, it makes sense to offer a meeting solution that's €˜global' as well," says Mary Casey, vice president of global sales for Starwood. "Meetings no longer just mean sitting around a table, and the Telepresence technology we're unveiling in Europe helps clients shape meetings to their own needs."

Telepresence provides life-like, high definition, conferencing facilities with superior audio, video and environmental qualities allowing participants to meet their colleagues, customers and business partners across a virtual table. Participants in Telepresence meetings will feel that they are in the same room together regardless of where they are individually located in the world. This creates the potential to improve all sorts of business interaction through better and more frequent meetings, resulting in stronger customer relationships and accelerated sales cycles, better project management and tighter integration of remote offices.

The public room facility offers users who do not have Telepresence rooms within their company, access to this cutting-edge technology at an affordable hourly rate. Tata Communications' global network of public Telepresence rooms is present in 21 major cities across five continents covering the USA, Canada, the UK, France, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Kuwait, South Africa, India, The Philippines, Singapore and Australia

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