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Coffee Catchup with Cross Hotels & Resorts

Website personalization techniques, benchmarking and more...

  13, Apr 2021

 Tags: Insider Direct Bookings Personalization

At THN, understanding the perspective of our hotel clients and the challenges they are facing is of the utmost importance to us. We are always eager to know how our clients are using our products and where we should innovate to support them further. Last week, we were excited to catch up with Paul Wilson, Executive Vice President at Cross Hotels, to hear his take on working with our tools and the group’s plans for the future. 

Located in Asia, Cross Hotels & Resorts is an innovative hospitality management group offering three brands, each with their own unique character and design concept: Away, X2 Vibe and X2. Guests are invited to escape the ordinary and enjoy holiday experiences that go well beyond expectations. With this emphasis on delivering the best guest experience possible and knowing that the brand experience often starts online, Cross Hotels & Resorts utilizes THN’s Personalization tools to enhance their website. In addition, the team has recently implemented our brand new benchmarking product, BenchDirect, in an effort to better capture and understand their direct booking channel. 

X2 Vibe Hotel Pattaya Seaphere, Thailand

Let’s take a closer look at what he had to say.

Good morning and thanks for taking the time to speak with us! Can I first ask, what is your favorite way to enjoy your morning coffee? 

My coffee morning routine starts bright and early. A double espresso at 5am, while listening to one of my favorite podcasts. This is right before my morning workout and boosts my energy for the rest of the day!

Nice! Now let's jump right in. What made Cross Hotels & Resorts choose to work with The Hotels Network?

We chose THN since your products are user friendly and because your team provides great support to clients. Also, the development at THN never stops! Very often when we log into the platform, we see that new things have been incorporated into the tools. 

What were you trying to achieve when you decided to work with THN?

Our objective was very simple. We needed to improve our website conversion rate and gain a greater share of web direct traffic. 

How has your brand been using the THN tools during COVID-19? 

In the current challenging market situation, the THN platform has been very useful. Since the tools are so flexible, we have been able to use them in several different ways. Firstly, we used the personalization tools to display promotions on the homepage including a built-in countdown clock to create a sense of urgency for our website visitors. We have also used different message formats (Smart Notes, Layers or Inliners) to display no availability or temporary suspensions at our properties when necessary. In this way, guests are redirected to buy a hotel voucher instead so they can book a stay with us at a later date. We have also used the website messaging to ensure visitors know that our hotels are participating in the “Travel Together” campaign launched by the Government of Thailand. By using this tool, we are also able to accept vouchers or discounts on behalf of this program.

An example of a Smart Note being used on an X2 hotel homepage

Do you think the THN tools have improved the user experience on your website? Have you noticed any changes since introducing the tools?

The user experience has definitely improved since introducing the tools, although we do have to be careful to ensure that our properties are not adding too many messages at the same time, as this could be overwhelming for the user. After just one month of using the tool, we could already see a better conversion rate. It was surprising to observe this impact on our results so quickly!

Once international markets start to reopen, have you any ideas for new website campaigns or tactics that you would like to test or roll out?

Ideally, we would like to deploy market specific promotions depending on the location of the hotels however this will largely depend on how soon each market can reopen and who will be able to travel to our properties. Once we know which hotels can reopen, we plan to reach out to guests by displaying a welcome back message, letting them know that we are happy to welcome them back to the hotel in three months time for example.

THN screenshotExit intent displayed on specific booking dates

How is Cross Hotels & Resorts using THN’s newest product development, BenchDirect? Are you planning to incorporate this tool into your decision-making? 

BenchDirect is a very useful tool even though it is still very new. We can see that it provides valuable insights that you cannot find anywhere else. We are planning to use the tool to pinpoint where we need to take action to improve the Direct Booking IndexTM specifically by hotel. 

How do you find the usability of BenchDirect? Is it intuitive to use? 

The usability is great, very straightforward and easy to understand. We also found the setup to be quite simple.  

Before having access to BenchDirect, what data did you use to make decisions around your direct channel strategy? 

Since gaining access to BenchDirect, we use the data provided by THN but we also do an analysis of the data made available by OTAs to make a comparison. We also actively look at the market share between OTA and brand websites and then try to do channel shifting at a macro level. 

Do you think BenchDirect could change hotel benchmarking for the industry overall?

Yes, I do. I think all hoteliers should join in using this product. In order for us to improve ourselves within the industry, we need faster adoption amongst hoteliers in order to accelerate the growth of BenchDirect otherwise we will be left behind.  

Are there any challenges your brand is facing that you would like THN to find ways to help you with? Have you any ideas about other tools you would like to see offered by THN?  

We would like to see a tool that helps us increase the traffic to our website. We believe that while it's great to have powerful tools on the hotel website itself, the results would be even more significant combined with an increase in qualified traffic. 

We would like to thank Paul for taking the time to share his point of view with us and for signing up Cross Hotels & Resorts so quickly to join the BenchDirect network! If your hotel brand would also like to unlock invaluable benchmarking insights to help you grow your direct channel, request your free BenchDirect account today and become part of the 10,000+ hotels worldwide who are taking part in our initiative. 

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