I ran into my former colleague Lisa Demoney at the SFO airport, she used to be one of the web managers at our last company. We’re headed out to the Internet Strategy Forum in Portland, a conference for some of the industries top Web Strategists. She know runs the websites for boutique hotel group Joie de vivre (means “Celebrate Life” in French), which just did a site redesign, check it out. We got into the topic of what future websites for hotels would look like.
With many travelers already online and used to communicating with others, there’s an opportunity to build social and network features into a site. Here’s a few far flung ideas I’ve got:
A few concepts first, web marketing is no long on two domains only, it’s spread to all over the internet.
Build a widget into Facebook that let’s guests map out all the hotels that they’ve been to, and let them share their ratings, pictures, thoughts and experiences with their network.
Per city, build a ‘things to do’ type of website that links to recommended restaurants (from peer reviews) site seeing and links to google maps.
For visually appealing and busy hotels, consider setting up a webcam that shows some of the view and action, this could be particularly effective in places like Times Square, a wharf, or even a bustling café.
Hotel ratings: this one often scares marketers are web managers, but most consumers are going to do some review or research, or rely on their previous experiences. Link to those reviews and show that you’re not afraid of consumer reviews.
My biggest want? I want lots of pictures for every hotel, I want to see more than just the outside of the hotel, if the hotel can’t provide them, link to repositories that already exist. Look at how many photos exist of Lucia, most of the photos I took when I was there at previous conferences. Make these photos accessible
What’s my biggest need? More than pictures, maps, and other social features, I need ot know the address and phone number, if I’m in a time pinch, that info needs to be quickly accessible. The savvy web marketer may setup a separate phone number on the websites to track how many calls come in from the web –conversions.
Boutique hotel? Think about targeting folks that are mobile, travel and like style, I’d try to connect folks that have mac book pros –especially bloggers, invite them to stay at a bloggers discount.
Joie de vivre is a unique group of boutique hotels, if you’re looking to do a conference in California, and need rooms, or a place to hold the conferencecheck them out. Email me (see top right) and I’ll connect you with Lisa directly. Each of the hotels appears to be different, which one is right for me? I’d probally want to stay at hotel Tomo, it’s got pop techno culture written all over it.
For today’s modern website, what features would you prefer? Who does it right? Who does it wrong?
Update: Have you checked out the Red Rooms Chronicle? It’s a customer’s blog who’s ‘dissecting the Marriott experience on hotel at a time, great stuff, and be sure to read his thoughts on how a wiki could help the traveler’s experience.