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Design Hotels – a new Website for a new Focus

 

 

img_5034.JPGFor years, I have respected Claus Sendlinger – the Founder and CEO of Design Hotels. One for his vision and fun personality, and second because he is German and created a very cool concept. Design Hotels is for cool stylish hotels what Leading Hotels of the World is for the luxury hotels.

When I met Claus the first time, I had Wow.travel with Mary Gostelow (which was sold to Kiwi Collection a couple years back). Now I happen to ran into Claus in Bangkok during his Asia Tour when he launched his new concept “Made by Originals”. A very engaging presentation walked the invited audience (I of course just sneaked in because I had an influential friend…smile) through the reasoning behind the concept and the future of Design Hotels. We all received a book (cannot believe it fit into my luggage

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back to Beijing), and 170 of the 180 are featured, categorized by style. I was able to spend some time with Claus after his presentation – unfortunately I forgot my little Flip Camera – to ask him a few questions. I was especially interested what Design Hotels is doing in the digital space, and

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a link to the beta site – but I had to promise not publish this article before ITB…and I am good little blogger!

So here is my INTERVIEW WITH CLAUS SENDLINGER, FOUNDER & CEO OF DESIGN HOTELS:

TIM (Tourism Internet Marketing Blog): Why have you re-launched your homepage?

CS (Claus Sendesignhotels7.gifdlinger): We wanted to create a mix of experiences and services. The new website combines cool film-clips with hotel references and specific city recommendations with interesting packages. The films in particular convey the sensory experiences that guests can expect at our member hotels and also the passion that went into creating them. In stark contrast to the more common “hotel walk through” video or 360° images, the “Made by Originals” films bring visitors closer to the hotel by allowing them to see, hear and almost feel the hotel.

On our City Pages we are planning to use a local contributor (a retail outlet, bar, restaurant, etc) to give a few bits and pieces of “insider” knowledge. User Generated Content also makes its first appearance on the site in the form of images on over 100 city pages. These are posted by visitors to our Flickr content. As soon as they do, they enter a prize draw: if an image is chosen as the best of the bunch the photographer wins a stay at a hotel.

TIM: Besides the films and user generated content, what will be the major differences to the old website?

CS: The biggest difference will be the homepage itself. It has been re-conceptualized to offer visitors a deeper insight into the brand, as opposed to the current homepage which focuses on driving bookers into the site. Exclusive partnerships with the likes of GoSee and The Future Labs ‘Life Signs Network’ will see the arrival of non-travel related content to the site that will help the visitor to associate themselves with the brand. Exclusive offers, not just

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A more emotional, brand-driven feel will be apparent throughout the site, with larger images, more focus on the product as opposed to the promotion and a greater depth of

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content will complete the re-launch.

TIM: Which networks are you working with??

CS: DesignHotels.com surfaced on Facebook last year quickly accumulating a 700+ strong following. The focal point of the group is its “Friday Specials” which will continue to offer group members exclusive deals. It has also been used to promote the launch of the Design Hotels Club, sound visitors out on new developments and offer prizes for those in-tune with Design HotelsTM. The DesignHotels.com group continues to grow in numbers and more exclusive opportunities are planned for 2009.

Design HotelsTM recently entered the Twitter-sphere and will be using this medium over the coming months to connect with our consumers and encourage them to experience the brand.

designhotels-twitter.gif fairmont-twitter.gif

TIM: Interesting to see that the Twitter page for Design Hotels only has 20 Followers, and Fairmont Hotels’ Twitter page has over 1,200. Who knows why? Well, Chameleon Strategies can help (just a little shameless plug from our Sponsor..hehe)

TIM: How is the categorisation of your hotels designed on the website?

CS: Following cevents_color.jpglosely on the heels of the re-launch, the search functionality on the site will be extended to allow visitors to search in a “Mood” related fashion. Want something cosy, romantic but a bit daring, DesignHotels.com will be able to find the perfect property for you.

TIM: What kind of online partners are you interested in?

CS: We are always on the look out for like-minded brands and websites who share an affinity for design, architecture, fashion, art and of course travel. Niche travel blogs, design sites, members only clubs and networks, architecture authorities and travel related stores make up our current affiliate partners.

In our new blog format “Travel Diaries” some of these contributors will update our users about their travel experiences.

TIM: Tell us more about your Future Blog?

CS: Originally used to make updates about our annual Future Forum design and architecture symposium, this is now where we introduce content from related industries like architecture, design, fashion, and gastronomy. It is updated several times a week.

TIM: Thank you Claus, and looking forward to seeing you at ITB in Berlin.

Note: Unfortunately, we did not have time to talk about all aspects about the concept of Design Hotels, and its articulation on the web. Of course, it is difficult to represent such a design-specific concept online, while at the same time being user-friendly and increase online sales. While not perfect, I believe that Design Hotels has done a nice job in leveraging the electronic medium.

Here are some more screen-shots of the new site, which should be live in the next couple of days at DesignHotels.com.

designhotels2.gifdesignhotels3.gifdesignhotels4.gifdesignhotels5.gifdesignhotels6.gifdesignhotels8.gif

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Comment by Zaren Courtenay
2009-03-24 11:23:16

Hi Jens

I just wanted to correct your otherwise great article about us.

You actually referenced a rogue twitterer in your article. The actual Design Hotels twitterings can be found at http://twitter.com/Design_Hotels. We currently have 525 followers and that is growing at a rate of 10+ per day.

We are currently in the process of finding out who is behind the rogue designhotels twitter account, so we urge Twitter fans to visit the real Design Hotels account for updates from us.

Yours, Zaren

Zaren Courtenay
Head of E-Marketing
Design Hotels

 
Comment by li yu
2009-04-13 13:29:58

Jens,

Thanks for this great post.

I am convince a good social media and travel social media strategy can make a strong difference with your position in Google Universal Search, as I explain some months ago in my post in your blog :

Google Universal Search and your travel industry business. Are you ready?
see here http://attractionstourism.com

it could be interesting to see if ComScore have new data about the market share for Google Universal Search.

Best regards

Claude

 
Comment by Mehmet
2009-05-14 12:41:59

TIM: What kind of online partners are you interested in?

this is the best question i think.. especially having someone to share their thoughts and experiences about hotel and that destination is great to convince visitors…
thanks..

 
Comment by Yesi Hill
2009-06-18 21:53:08

I am agree with li yu. its true good social media strategy will help to get in high rank in google 🙂

 

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