Last updated: 09:26 AM ET, Wed March 04 2015

Travvy Awards Winners Spotlight: Chris Austin, Starwood Hotels and Resorts

Hotel & Resort | Starwood Hotels and Resorts | Ryan Rudnansky | March 04, 2015

Travvy Awards Winners Spotlight: Chris Austin, Starwood Hotels and Resorts

When you are the vice president of global leisure and luxury sales for Starwood Hotels and Resorts—which includes nine brands in its portfolio—it’s safe to say you have a lot of responsibility.

But Chris Austin, who was named Most Innovative Hotels Executive at the first annual Travvy Awards in January in New York City, seems to be handling his role just fine.

“For me personally, winning in this category at the Travvy Awards was major recognition of my and Starwood’s long-standing commitment to the travel professional community," said Austin. "Innovation is the heartbeat of our brands and our design. It is how we deepen relationships with guests and customers and stand apart from the rest."

Austin, who has worked for more than 25 years at Starwood, has not only helped the company grow to 1,200 hotels across the globe, but he has also been a major force behind some key tools, programs and initiatives Starwood has developed throughout the years.

Travel professionals, in particular, have been appreciative of Austin’s work. He has led the development of the Starwood ProLearning travel agent training program, as well as the recent SPG Pro incentive program, which rewards professionals more for their hard work.

And, in line with Austin’s reputation of being an innovative executive, he was on top of the Wi-Fi trend in 2014. He led Starwood’s move to offer free Wi-Fi to SPG loyalty program members who booked through the company’s digital channels, while also ensuring travel professionals got their 10 percent commission for bookings made this way.

"We continue to deliver ProLearning education with a focus to support the travel professionals' new business development and top line performance. Luxury Privileges was developed to support those partners who are vested in luxury and committed to growing their luxury business with the largest luxury hotel operator in the world," said Austin. "I thank all the readers for selecting me as the Best Innovative Hotel Executive and I pledge to remain fully committed to building the best resources, the best opportunities and the best end result for you and your customers. My entire global sales team is committed to the Starwood promise of innovation and success and we work each day to be flexible, reliable, responsive and proactive to support your efforts.”

Austin’s work was also instrumental in Starwood receiving both Best Luxury Hotel Chain and Best Hotel & Resorts Chain Overall at the Travvy Awards this January in New York City.

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