After a year of design, development and content collection, the new Protea Hotels and African Pride Hotels websites have been launched to the public.
The new websites represent a big leap forward for hospitality technology in Africa that will not only make it easier for travellers to thoroughly research destinations, book and share their experiences on such forums as TripAdvisor, but also be an additional interactive sales tool for those in the travel trade, says Protea Hospitality Group Sales, Marketing & Revenue Director Danny Bryer.
He says the Prokard Rewards Programme portal on the new website has been streamlined and simplified as well, making it easier for members to see at a glance how many Prokard Rands they have accrued and how they can redeem them on future accommodation and other hotel services.
The new websites have a fresh and slick feel which lives up to the brand personality whilst offering functionality to ensure the user experience is efficient and seamless, says Protea Hospitality Group Head of Online Distribution Clinton Arnot, who has managed the project from inception to launch.
Whereas the previous websites were largely dominated by written hotel information, static image galleries, the new sites work on a totally different premise and start with the question: “Where would you like to go?”
“We used focus groups and feedback from GUESTS as well during the creative process for the new website, because the online space has to reflect elements they consider to be key attributes.
“Consumer behaviour is different nowadays in that most people complete much of their travel cycle online, which means hospitality companies need to be in that space as well.”
The new generation travel cycle, says Arnot, follows a predictable path:
- Inspiration: This is sought by surfing travel portals, destination sites, Online Travel Agents (OTAs), travel agents’ websites, blogs, Facebook and a host of other channels.
- Education: This includes selecting a handful of hotels then comparing GUEST feedback, facilities, services and surrounding attractions.
- Planning: This step involves pricing hotels and airfares, and looking at special deals and loyalty programme benefits.
- Booking: Whether done through travel agents or directly with hotels and airlines, most confirmations nowadays are electronic.
- Experience: This is the trip itself, which is not only lived in person, but shared through social media channels, location apps such as Foursquare, image sharing sites such as Flickr and Pintrest, as well as write-ups on review sites such as TripAdvisor.
Says Arnot: “If potential GUESTS are doing everything online except the actual travel, then your brand’s digital real estate needs to be exciting, enticing and presented in such a way that it’s easy to navigate, simple and secure to book, very visual and sells destinations as well as hotels. The way the websites are now structured include links about ‘discovering our top cities, top destinations, top hotels and top activities’.
“What we are ultimately trying to do with these websites is to be a conduit to all forms of travel that culminates in the experience and the sharing of that experience.
“Social media has been integrated to allow potential travellers to read reviews about any hotel they’re currently researching and even links to write reviews for TripAdvisor.
Danny Bryer describes the websites as a new doorway to the best of Africa.
“We’ve invested for the future by creating digital real estate that will not only showcase the largest and leading hotel group in Africa, but also create a tourism platform for our inspiring and vibrant continent to encourage travel in any way, shape or form to our shores.
“We are as much about strengthening Brand Africa and Brand South Africa as we are about showcasing our own superlative portfolio of hotels and the 10 very different but equally beautiful countries in which our brands are thriving.
“I’m immensely proud of these new gateways to Africa. They clearly demonstrate that we can and do compete on the world tourism stage and that in terms of the quality of the new websites, the hotels they showcase and countries that inspire them, Africa deserves its place in the limelight.”