In 2010, Four Seasons Hotels asked Huge to help the company completely re-envision its online presence. A distinguished and elegant brand, Four Seasons wanted a digital experience that brought the same prestige and luxury offered by its premier hotels to life online. The redesign of FourSeasons.com, the digital masthead for the brand as a whole as well as the umbrella site for more than 150 distinct Four Seasons properties around the world, needed to be easy to navigate and bring the service and simplicity the brand is known for to luxury travelers looking to plan and book their trip online.
Huge first developed the brand’s overall digital strategy before applying it to the full redesign of FourSeasons.com and related eCRM, mobile and social components. A thoughtful content strategy coupled with stunning design and seamless technology was essential to not just meet business goals, but create something Four Seasons could maintain and grow into the future.
With full license to reimagine the Four Seasons digital footprint, we started with a thorough discovery into what differentiates Four Seasons in the competitive landscape. What we uncovered was a core value proposition steeped in impeccable taste, unparalleled service and abundant elegance. The challenge was to capture that value proposition in a digital experience that would drive customer engagement and online reservations.
Our content strategy team conducted a full inventory of every Four Seasons web property followed by a content audit and gap analysis. We then interviewed every single property manager across the globe to ascertain the individual flavor and sub-brand of each property. After that, we assessed the translation and localization efforts necessary for the site to reach Four Seasons’s diverse global users.
With locations in some of the most beautiful destinations around the globe, Four Seasons embraces the culture, aesthetic and landscape of each location, fusing a local feel into each distinct guest experience. Leveraging this nuance, we incorporated subtle, stunning visuals reflective of each destination; this photography- and video-driven design allows each property to tell its own unique story and manage its own digital presence. Thanks to 360-degree video views, guests are now empowered to tour every Four Seasons hotel - exploring guest rooms, meeting rooms, grounds, amenities and more. FourSeasons.com gives guests a true feel for the Four Seasons experience at their chosen location prior to booking their stay.
Expanding upon Four Seasons’s brand promise of superior service, Huge also designed a sophisticated yet simple booking flow that intuitively guides guests through options and choices, minimizing clicks and alleviating the frustration that usually accompanies the hotel booking process—and prevents conversions. In addition, the new reservation system provides a wealth of information about the area and sights surrounding the hotel, enhancing the destination experience and better preparing guests for their impending arrival.
Beyond the .com experience, we integrated custom social tools into FourSeasons.com in order to pull in reviews and comments directly from Twitter and TripAdvisor. The end result is a complete digital experience that provides guests with all the information they need - in a single site environment - to book their next vacation.
Understanding that Four Seasons’s key demographic comprises digitally savvy early adopters, Huge also extended the Four Seasons experience to mobile and tablet. Guests can now amend reservation details or explore destination-specific information on their mobile devoice of choice. And, using the Four Seasons iPad app, they can even check in.
Huge developed a publishing plan for the site’s implementation and worked with Four Seasons to establish the technology for future management of the site’s content. Our content strategy team first documented every piece of data that needed to be created and entered into the content management system. Eight in-house copywriters used this document, which was organized by module, as a guide for writing the new site copy in the specified style and character count. Designers worked alongside photographers to build a complete library of photography assets in the specified size and style. The content architecture was designed both to simplify initial entry by Four Seasons’ team members and to provide a solid, intuitive foundation for organizing the site’s content in the future.
In addition to localizing each property’s site through design, we ensured each would comply with local linguistic, technological and legal requirements. To determine the specific needs of Four Seasons’s various international markets, we paid particular attention to user demographics and constructed use cases that considered several factors, including preferred device and comfort level with booking online. We then built a template system that could be deployed, customized and managed in every market and every language, taking into account Four Seasons’s operational structure from the property staff to the corporate level. In this way, brand communication stays consistent around the world, but content and technology is optimized for local audiences.
Thanks to these digital initiatives both site visits and online bookings increased by 10%, accompanied by a steady rise in conversion rates. Revenue from online bookings grew by 6%, with mobile booking revenue up a staggering 82%.
By providing customers with an irresistible and alluring digital experience that imparts all the elegance and luxury of Four Seasons, Huge has ensured that users not only become guests but also brand evangelists. After L2 Think Tank named FourSeasons.com the world no. 1 hotel brand in digital, the site went on to win the 2012 Web Marketing Association award in the Outstanding Website category, as well as the 2012 Interactive Media Award in the Best in Class category.