The new Thompson Hotels website provides an interesting case study about how to integrate visual design, brand storytelling, social media and booking functionality, while at the same time streamlining navigation. Dhiren Khemlani, senior vice president, head of account management at New York-based Noise agency, who oversaw the development of the new portal, says his company was tasked with three directives.
Thompson Hotels wanted to improve SEO by expanding the amount of content and time on site, embed the Room 100 blog content and social platforms more organically throughout the user experience, and offer meeting planners the ability to submit detailed requests for proposal, reports Skift.
One thing in Noise’s favor is that scrolling is no longer taboo among web surfers, a situation that has emerged with the use of tablets where scrolling is a necessity. Using a vintage newspaper term, Khemlani told Media Post, “We’re no longer limited to what’s above the fold. We can now serve up all the necessary visuals but still have the copy we need.”
With that in mind, Noise came up with a three-pronged strategy:
1. While they wanted the site to be heavily visual, SEO demands required more text. The decision was made to create a site that allows daily changes to keep current and to remain a higher SEO factor.
2. Social media was integrated rather than simply being connected by a link. Rather than lose potential guests to social media sites, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter are built into the site — also allowing for the natural photos inherent in those platforms; and providing for different perspectives as far as content.
3. An easy-to-fill-out form for meeting and event planners was designed so that the first communication from a planner is more than an e-mail address and, thus, weeded out those less serious about actually holding an event at a Thompson hotel.
Three weeks after the site relaunch, Thompson is seeing more page views, more pages per session and more time spent on the site. Most importantly, conversions are up as well – and that’s what a website is all about.
At a time when the number one question for many hoteliers is reclaiming direct bookings, the website is the place to focus. Should you do a complete redo every five years? Every year? Of course, it’s easy to tweak a website but even those changes have to be thought out to insure they work. But grass should not be allowed to grow under any website if a hotel company has any hope of driving customers to it.