Starwood's growth strategy calls for selling HOT-owned hotels and expanding the amount of hotels the company manages or franchises. This move from owner to manager/franchiser will give the company higher profit margins and reduce exposure to tumbling real estate values associated with the declining US and world economies.
Real estate mogul Sam Zell's Equity Group Investments, LLC (EGI) owns an 8.1% stake in Starwood Hotels and signed a confidentiality agreement with the company in January 2009. This suggests that Zell may have an interest in investing more in HOT or acquiring the company outright.
Starwood has established its nine brand names throughout the world and aims to provide similar services to its customers across the globe. This, along with its Frequent Guest Program, helps to foster a loyal customer base that will consistently choose Starwood hotels over competitors.