Starwood Hotels and Resorts is one of the world’s largest high-end hotel and resort companies. One of Starwood’s divisions, W Hotels, is upgrading their existing online reservation system. You are a project manager at Starwood and will be leading the SDLC for a website project that W Hotels is initiating. An overview of the company, the specific case information, and your responsibilities are included in this document. You will be using this case information for several of the labs in this course.
Begin this lab by familiarizing yourself with the company.
Overview of Starwood Hotels and Resorts
“Through our brands, we are well represented in most major markets around the world. Our operations are grouped into two business segments, hotels and vacation ownership and residential operations. Our revenue and earnings are derived primarily from hotel operations, which include management and other fees earned from hotels we manage pursuant to management contracts, the receipt of franchise and other fees[,] and the operation of our owned hotels.
Our hotel business emphasizes the global operation of hotels and resorts primarily in the luxury and upscale segment of the lodging industry. We seek to acquire interests in, or management or franchise rights with respect to, properties in this segment. At December 31, 2006, our hotel portfolio included owned, leased, managed[,] and franchised hotels totaling 871 hotels with approximately 266,000 rooms in approximately 100 countries, and is comprised of 85 hotels that we own or lease or in which we have a majority equity interest, 426 hotels managed by us on behalf of third-party owners (including entities in which we have a minority equity interest) and 360 hotels for which we receive franchise fees.
Our revenues and earnings are also derived from the development, ownership[,] and operation of vacation ownership resorts, marketing and selling vacation ownership interests (VOIs) in the resorts[,] and providing financing to customers who purchase such interests. Generally[,] these resorts are marketed under the brand names described above. Additionally, our revenues and earnings are derived from the development, marketing[,] and selling of residential units at mixed use hotel projects owned by us[,] as well as fees earned from the marketing and selling of residential units at mixed use hotel projects developed by third-party owners of hotels operated under our brands. At December 31, 2006, we had 25 vacation ownership resorts and residential properties in the United States, Mexico, Aruba[,] and the Bahamas.
The Corporation was incorporated in 1980 under the laws of Maryland. Sheraton Hotels & Resorts and Westin Hotels & Resorts, Starwood’s largest brands, have been serving guests for more than 60 years. Starwood Vacation Ownership (and its predecessor, Vistana, Inc.) has been selling VOIs for more than 20 years.”
“W Hotels (luxury and upscale full service hotels, retreats, and residences) feature world class design, world class restaurants and ‘on trend’ bars and lounges and its signature WhateverWhenever service standard. It’s a sensory multiplex that not only indulges the senses, it delivers an emotional experience. Whether it’s ‘behind the scenes’ access at Whappenings, or our cutting edge music, lighting[,] and scent programs, W delivers an experience unmatched in the hotel segment.”
Also, familiarize yourself with W’s current website.
Specifics of the W Hotel Website Project
As you have seen above, W Hotels currently has a website to handle online reservations at its 20+ hotels. The site is also used for information and promotions of W’s restaurants, bars, spas, and meeting facilities. W is now investing in a project to upgrade their online reservations website. The typical guest at a W Hotel is technically savvy, expects a superior level of service, and is willing to pay for it. The high-level requirements of this project are listed below:
- Handle increased traffic – W Hotels currently has 22 hotels. They are expanding at a rate of about four new hotels per year. W expects an increase in traffic of about 15% per year. The increase in online traffic is not only due to the hotel expansion, but also due to new services that will be available online (details are below).
- Fault tolerant – W’s current website has experienced regular outages of service. They are concerned that this is affecting reservations revenue and is a disservice to the customer. They would like to maximize the reliability while keeping costs within limits.
- Customer service – This is of extreme importance to W because of the high-level service they offer and which their guests expect. With this in mind, the website must be seamlessly integrated with customer service.
- Hip feel and appeal – W’s guests appreciate the trendy accommodations, style, and edginess. This look and feel must be represented in the design and services of the website.
- Handheld devices – The website must function well with cell phones, PDAs, and other handheld devices. The site should also be easily upgraded to handle new devices as they come to market.
- Notifications – Cell phone, PDA, and e-mail notifications from the W website are needed to distribute confirmations, changes, messages, and so forth.
- New media – W’s website will use video, 3-D virtual imaging, and other media for promotional purposes, tours, and information on events. Note that these media capabilities are an extra, so they are not required in order to make a reservation, gather information, or use the basic functionality of the W Hotel website.
You are now the project manager who is responsible for overseeing the SDLC of this website project.
In this lab, you will determine the staffing needs, responsibilities of the team members, and how your staffing budget will be spent.
The following are some guidelines you must follow:
- The project is projected to be completed in a six month time period.
- You have a budget of $500,000 for staffing. (You do not need to include benefits in your budget calculation.)
- You are responsible for all of the staff on the project, including technical staff.
- You must include your own salary in the budget calculations.
- You may hire full-time employees, part-time employees, contractors, or any combination that you determine is best.
- You must justify each position that you have chosen to include on your team.
- You are limited to hiring a maximum of three full-time employees (W Hotels does not want to hold on to your entire team after the project is completed).
Upon completing this lab, you will be able to do the following:
- Review the systems development life cycle (SDLC) approach to completing a project, with special emphasis given to the system implementation and user training phases of the project.
- Consider such variables as the project size, priorities, constraints, budgets, and the structure and culture of the organization.
- Post to the SharePoint website, an online collaboration tool.
- MS Word*
- MS Excel*
STEP 1: Preliminary Research
- Read the case information given above. (You will be using this case for several labs in this course.)
- Research the following items about Starwood Hotels and Resorts. You can find company profiles using databases provided by the DeVry University Library.
- Read the full overview of the company.
- In what city is the company headquartered? Place this information at the beginning of your report and save it in a Word file named “FiLastname_Lab01.docx”.
- What is the stock symbol for this company? Place this in the FiLastname_Lab01.docx file.
- What is the company’s website address? Place this in the FiLastname_Lab01.docx file.
- What companies does Hoovers list as the “top competitors” of Starwood? Place this in the FiLastname_Lab01.docx file.
- Hoovers information can be found at the following website: www.hoovers.com.
STEP 2: Define A List of Potential Positions
Create a list of positions that you would like to have for this project. Save this list to your FiLastname_Lab01.docx Word file.
To help you decide on your list of positions, consider the phases of the systems development life cycle as it applies to this project, and select positions with the appropriate skills to carry out each phase. For example, if you are using a structured SDLC, you may decide that you need a business analyst position for the analysis phase. Pay particular attention to the positions needed to implement the upgraded reservations website and to train W Hotel’s personnel to use it.
STEP 3: Research Position Details
- Using www.salary.com, or a similar site, locate a job profile for each of the positions on your staffing wish list. Add the profiles to your FiLastname_lab01.docx file.
- Using www.salary.com, or a similar site, locate a salary for each of the positions on your wish list. Be sure that the salaries are reflective of the geographic area in which you are located. Add the salaries to your FiLastname_lab01.docx file.
STEP 4: Develop Budget
- Using MS Excel, develop a budget containing the salaries of each staff member. Remember to follow the guidelines you were given above. Save the file as “FiLastname_Lab01.xlsx”.
- Take the FiLastname_lab01.xlsx file, and embed it in the FiLastname_lab01.docx file.
STEP 5: Finish Up
- Format your document so that it is professional and presentable.
- Post one of your position profiles to the announcements area of the online collaboration tool, SharePoint. Your classmates will be reviewing the document and making comments in the TDA for next week. For a tutorial on how SharePoint can be used for collaboration, please refer to the SharePoint tutorial.
To access the SharePoint site for this course, log in to the iLab platform, and on the main iLab applications menu, click the Internet Explorer icon (blue “e”) labeled “BIS360 iLab SharePoint Site.” This will take you to the top-level SharePoint site for all BIS360 sections. Review any announcements you see there. On the right side of the page, under Section Links, click the link for the particular section of BIS360 in which you are enrolled to go to your section’s SharePoint site. There, under Announcements at the bottom center of the page, click the Add New Announcement link to post one of your position profiles on the site.
- Upload the FiLastname_Lab01.docx and FiLastname_lab01.xlsx files to this week’s Dropbox.