CHICAGO, Nov. 16, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, Forbes Travel Guide introduced Startle.com, a new online travel planning site designed to help travelers discover the most outstanding places, in conjunction with the announcement of the 54th Annual Five- and Four-Star Awards. Providing expert insights and unique perspectives from Forbes Travel Guide's own inspectors, Startle.com is making these exclusively available online to the public for the first time in its history alongside expert answers from tastemakers, consumers, and some of the world's leading hotel, restaurant and spa brands.
Launching on November 15th in 72 U.S. markets and 5 international markets - Hong Kong, Macau, Beijing, Singapore, and the Dominican Republic, Startle™ uniquely combines Forbes Travel Guide's widely respected Five-Star travel ratings system with a real-time dialogue among Forbes Travel Guide inspectors, tastemakers and hotel, restaurant and spa experts to create the most dynamic travel experience on the Web.
"No other site on the web has brought together such a prominent group of hoteliers with the level of in-depth, original content that our inspectors have collected year after year," said Jayne Griswold, Executive Vice President of Forbes Travel Guide. "Our inspection process is unrivaled; with its proprietary list of over 500 standards which tests and measures everything from thoughtfulness of the staff to wines in the minibar."
Startle.com will launch with over 75 Founding Partners from such prestigious brands as Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Trump Hotel Collection and Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, as well as many of the leading independent properties including ARIA Resort and Casino, The Broadmoor, The Hermitage Hotel, The Jefferson Hotel, The Palazzo Las Vegas, The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island, The Venetian Las Vegas and Wynn Las Vegas. These and many more properties from across the U.S. and Asia are represented on the site with rich media galleries, comprehensive questions and answers, exclusive offers, and social communities. By enabling direct booking on the hotels' own websites, Startle.com also brings the consumer together with the hotelier in the most valuable way possible.
The expert-based question and answer format on Startle.com will provide the consumer a balance of professional and consumer insights that help its registered members plan exceptional travel experiences that are most appropriately matched to their precise needs, preferences and interests. The site includes:
- Only the top-rated Forbes Travel Guide hotels, restaurants and spas, thereby ensuring hospitality excellence for consumers. Based on a 500-criteria service evaluation conducted by unbiased professional inspectors who visit each location anonymously, the Five-Star ranking system was the first of its kind and has been the gold standard in U.S. travel ratings since 1958.
- Exclusive Star Experiences and insider deals are offered to members that may include anything from private jet transportation to your Forbes Travel Guide Five Star Hotel to a private cooking lesson with a Five-Star Chef.
- Social capabilities include the ability to follow Forbes Travel Guide inspectors, travel industry experts, tastemakers, destinations, and the world's leading hotel and hospitality brands. Consumers can even follow questions, so if Chef Todd English weighs in on his favorite spice market in Istanbul, his followers will be the first to know.
- Curated answers to key travel planning questions by travel experts and renowned tastemakers such as Chef Charlie Trotter, Ivanka Trump, as well as sommeliers, concierges, and General Managers from the world's leading hotels. Answers from tastemakers to such curious questions such as, "What are the best New York City diners?" and "Where is your favorite weekend getaway?" to "What are the best museums in San Francisco?"
- Member-contributed answers to the questions of travel including comments, travelogues, private messaging and trip photos all through registered member profile pages.
- Thousands of original images and videos as well as those provided by hotels, restaurants and spas are available on the site in prominent media galleries.
"We are excited to be part of a platform that we believe will help us connect more directly with our guests," said Edward Mady, Regional Director of West Coast, USA and General Manager of The Beverly Hills Hotel, a Dorchester Collection property. "Startle is a unique tool that allows us to best manage our message about Hotel Bel-Air and communicate in our own words how a guest will feel when staying at this beloved and iconic hotel."
For more information on all of the Forbes Travel Guide Star Rated hotels, restaurants and spas visit www.startle.com today.
About Forbes Travel Guide
Forbes Travel Guide, originator of the prestigious Mobil Travel Guide Star ratings and certifications, has provided the most comprehensive ratings and reviews of hotels, restaurants and spas since 1958. In October 2009, Mobil Travel Guide announced a strategic partnership with Forbes Media LLC. This exclusive licensing agreement between two industry leaders with more than 140 years of combined experience transfers the hospitality industry's premier star rating and travel guide brand from ExxonMobil to Forbes. Forbes Travel Guide has a team of expert inspectors who anonymously evaluate properties against rigorous and objective proprietary standards, providing consumers the insight to make better-informed travel and leisure decisions.
Startle is the online destination for Forbes Travel Guide's experts and Star Ratings. This unique new platform combines answers to the questions of travel from the unparalleled insights of the Forbes Travel Guide inspectors, the hospitality experts from some of the world's leading luxury brands, and some of the most respected travel experts in the industry. With its expert content, social connections, curated lists, and exclusive offers and experiences, Startle delivers a one-of-a-kind destination online for the most discerning travelers.
SOURCE Forbes Travel Guide