Creating a "community" via your Internet site is a dot-com buzzword. Now a big hotel chain is doing it.

The Starwood chain began the dialogue with customers in April with, designed to update and involve Starwood Preferred Guests.

This week, Starwood's Sheraton brand unveiled the redesigned, inviting travelers to share trip photos, commentary, tips — and, soon, video.

It's our "foray in the 'social networking' world," says Nadeen Ayala, a Starwood spokeswoman. "The most important thing for travelers is word of mouth ... other people's experiences."

She cites a May report from comScore Media Metrix saying that while the growth rate of many top Internet sites is cooling, it's soaring for sites focused on networking, blogging and local info.


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