Four Seasons has today launched the latest upgrades to their brands hotel websites, a $15 million corporate initiative that places a greater emphasis on images, social media, special offers and destination “experiences”.
Looking almost Tumblr-esque in layout, the sites use real-time social media data from Facebook, Twitter and TripAdvisor to show reviews from visitors, both positive and negative.
Such a bold move could be risky for hotels, but, as we’ve noted before, Four Seasons as a brand excels at social media,training hotels and staffers in how to respond properly to individual messages.
Hotel expert Barb De Lollis of USA Today quoted the brand’s marketing chief Susan Helstab, who said that “there’s no room for smoke and mirrors in today’s socially networked world.” She cited a brand survey saying that 33% of guests rely heavily on TripAdvisor when making booking decisions, but that one person’s “bad” may be another person’s value-add.
“If you find that not every experience is equally positive, you will understand the framework for that experience. Maybe it was from a traveler who wasn’t quite like you,” she says. “Maybe you want an active kids’ pool with lots of amenities (unlike the writer of a particular review that complains about the pool scene).”
We’re happy to see the new website playing up the destination as much as the property – lush, vivid photos and an extensive “Destination” and “Highlights” page play up what there is to do in the area. Meetings and Weddings, while extensively built out, take a back seat in the main navigation for tiny, top-level tabs, indicating that this is a site that is speaking to the leisure consumer rather than the corporate one that forms much of the brand’s base. UGC content from sites like Flickr also gives a more personal touch, and fully-functioning mobile sites allow on-the-go travelers to book.
While there are still a few kinks to work out (not all room types load with images and we caught a few typos) the site looks impressive and modern, more like what we’d expect from a boutique chain rather than a big brand with 86 hotels under their belt.
We’re excited to see if other hotels follow suit.