A big part of our job as a travel news source is visiting and evaluating all the tourism & hospitality stuff there is out there on the web. For you readers, as travel enthusiasts or genuine globetrotters, the evaluation process is really the same. In effect, we just “short cut” or enhance the process for you. With this in mind, Argo Travel presents the best digital expriences in travel. This weeks showcased site is the Global Hotel Alliance portal.
On the Trail of Greatness
Superb. Yes, this is an overused term no matter what niche we talk about. However, a visit to Global Hotel Alliance’s landing page, and the subsequent exploration ensuing, reveals an extraordinary accomplishment actually. This is particularly true if you happen to be in the business of testing or reviewing (maybe even consulting on the building of) sites. GHA (as the company is termed) really created a brand ambassador in website clothing here.
A brand, a business, has about 10 seconds to engage and convert a passerby, this is just common digital marketing sense. A lot of the big name players do a great job at this – the conveyance and indelibility of their brands online. Hilton Worldwide is a great example, carrying over the tried and true legacy of the world’s most famous luxury hotelier. At the other end of the organizational matrix Logis, Europe’s biggest independent group brand conveys a homey and contemporary feeling. But, GHA does something rather fascinating – if you look closely.
One of the most difficult web design concepts to do perfectly is to create a truly “minimalist” concept, while at the same time affording deep features and process. Even Google has struggled to make the world’s most recognized digital brand functional as well as simple. GHA has stepped into virgin territory in some ways here. How do you make interactive African elephants, intersect with clean and simple, and then superimpose a sort of Conde Nast (home landing below) elegance in editorial? For most businesses the answer is, “You don’t” – but rethink this looking at the other GHA elements.
Not many web design gurus would ever suggest white on black like Conde Nast uses, it has to be done perfectly. The same holds true for hotel website or any other where the division between minimalist and function is concerned. Why do you think there are so many cluttered or idiotic looking websites? Aside the aesthetics and user interface functionality though, there is the “division” of functionality too. What I mean by this is, GHA and others have to decide how to please every type of user – visually oriented, map lovers, pull down menu throwbacks, whatever, the site has to cater to user style and preference. GHA’s site does this exceptionally well. The filtering zone in between a Hollywood landing and the Shargi La destination hotel is smooth here.
Next, the potential guest arrives at say, Kempinski Hotel River Park Bratislava in Slovenia. Now what? Book or “book” to somewhere else to book, right? GHA does a super job here too. Look at the image below. To the causal observer this might look like just another hotel listing on just another hotel website. But it’s not, is it?
…GHA manages to convey everything a guest will need in making their decision on, or just beneath, this page. I love massive images and video, but an alternative is the correct use of near perfect imagery (as shown). Booking via any method exits this fine page. Then, badaBOOM!, the booking page offers up all the aforementioned selections and more. In red, our potential booking for 3 nights starts at €447 euro – we can call, email, book onsite, or send smoke signals if we prefer. Of course, there are myriad upgrade choices too, all-be-it not in your typical “maddening” was of arraying same some hotels use.
Is the GHA discovery to booking circuit perfect? Nothing is perfect. GHA offers a members only element that is very refined too, but the nature of “premium” accounts does tend to drive some people away – I am not sure how anyone can eliminate this though. Till, once the user “opts in” by filling in the ever aggravating form, the GHA experience gets even better. While many people may not appreciate suggested activities and places, these done correctly can lead to some really fun experiences. The image above of my “member” local experience - “Baking a Bakewell Tart” at the Bloomsbury Hotel in London – well, I always wanted to, you know?
The biggest negative I could actually find where GHA is concerned, it is in their apparently total disregard for the social media channels. While GHA does have these channels active (Twitter and Facebook), I could not find the buttons even on their site. Maybe this was some oversight, but I rather doubt it, GHA apparently defers to Kempinski and others of their brands even for a YouTube Channel.
On a scale of 1 to 10, the Global Hotel Alliance website experience has to rate at least 9.5. If there is a 10 out there anywhere, we will find it, but for now GHA has top honors for hotels. We leave you with the one video for GHA I could find easily. For more information on Global Hotel Alliance, we suggest you visit the prescribed links and contact the various hotels directly. Be sure and sign up to get your special deals too.