The first thing most travellers want to do after deciding on a vacation destination is to find a place to plop their bodies once they arrive. They want to see the room they’ll sleep in, the restaurant they’ll eat in, the pool they’ll frolic in and the beach they’ll loll on. They want to literally picture themselves there, and that’s where a hotel’s website, with its reams of digital assets, comes in.
As technology advances, and more information needs to be added, disseminated and catalogued, managing all that content can be a challenge. But keeping all those photos, videos, virtual tours, pricing, booking and marketing information organized, centralized and updated is vital — for internal and external users.
While there are many outside file-management and storage companies, such as OpenAsset, Leonardo and ICE Portal, that will build and maintain a system for you, Accent Inns chose Microsoft’s do-it-yourself SharePoint. Trina Notman, vice-president, Marketing and Communications for B.C.-based Accent Inns and Zed Hotels, says, “It’s a central receptacle everybody in the company can access,” but keeping the content accurate and up-to-date is all in the granting of permissions. “While everyone can access it, only the marketing team can edit it.”
She says having a well-organized, easy-to-use system also helps target the properties’ various customer segments with relevant content. Two of the more popular of those segments are young families and the queer community.
“It’s about showing young families interacting with your property. For example, we have a two-bedroom cottage at Hotel Zed, with full kitchen, full family room and gorgeous porch. We’ve just done a whole series of video assets around a child’s birthday party in there. Another video shows a family having a pillow fight.”
She says the queer community looks for a property where they know they’ll be accepted and respected, hence several supportive initiatives throughout the year. For its Valentine’s Day promotion, for example, the properties positioned multi-media Progress Flags, an evolution of the Rainbow Flag, in their lobbies, an idea that came from a sales manager who is a gay man with a trans partner. “He said, ‘If I saw that flag, I’d know I would be safe there.’”
Beatriz Fuentes, area director of Marketing for Marriott Canada, agrees that having a reliable digital-asset system is crucial for the customer experience. “We have to make sure we provide people with the right information, at the right time, the way they consume it,” she says.
Last year Marriott, which manages more than 8,000 hotel websites, launched its new data-driven product built on the Adobe Experience Manager, which Fuentes says allows a bolder way to present content. “It’s a more agile website — intuitive, easy to use, and has the functionality we were looking for. It supports more enhancements and new additions, [which] also allows hotels to customize their content.”
She says it’s a mobile-first design, which has boosted customer engagement, and lets the company showcase all of its brands and categories.
“We have 30 hotel brands, so through these new websites we have a clear visual of brand distinction across all of our hotels.”
She says the system is controlled centrally by a dedicated team to maintain the consistency, look and feel of the website. It can also be updated 24/7 to publicize packages and other promotions. “The hotels have the ability to do that on their end. There’s an approval process, but we have substantially reduced the time from the hotels updating and the content going live. It’s now a matter of hours, whereas before, it would probably take a few days.”
In the end, says Notman, a well-designed, managed and regularly updated digital-content system is about pleasing the guest, which pleases the bottom line. “It’s about creating that vacation movie in their heads so they can start imagining their good time. And that makes clicking that ‘book now’ button so much easier.”
By Robin Roberts