Tag Archives: Hotels

Designing Self-Service From the Start

PremierInn Check In email - a good example of customer self-service
Premier Inn Check In email – a good example of customer self-service

One of the features of “a digital project”, is that the end user can become self-sufficient without needing to call the organisation offering the service or product. We call this self-service.

The first Internet services had a thin veil of self-service features, enabling companies to experience the cost savings of letting users perform common tasks.

Once this Return On Investment was proven, one of two things happened. Many organisations left the systems alone, stopped any further investment and patted themselves on the back.

Other companies redesigned the service to allow the maximum possible self-service touch points to maximise the future return on investment. They redesigned the self-service experience from the start. Continue reading Designing Self-Service From the Start

Internet World


I spent today at Internet World. In the morning I met a number of vendors who we currently work with (such as Sitecore and Telligent) and ex-colleagues from my IMG days (such as Ismail at Webcredible). In the afternoon I went to a number of presentations from Blue State Digital, Attensity, Hilton and Dixons.

The presentations were far more information than previous years. All the presenters seemed more willing than previous years to impart key information – such as uptime statistics, very specific keyword analysis on social media listening (which included some negative publicity on a key client) and so on. This isn’t a complaint whatsoever – its a welcome observation.

Key points from the presentations:

Blue State Digital

  • BSD (owned by WPP, and they work with one of our clients) ran Obama’s digital campaign (13m subscribers, raised $600m donations from 3.2m donors, generated 1 million User Generated Photos of which many were used in campaign videos). 
  • A lot of thought about “seizing key moments” e.g. when Sarah Palin attacked Obama in speeches they sent plain emails responding immediately to her comments. BH: Sounds great – but how do you stop crying wolf for everything that might happen to a brand?
  • Every piece of content needs to drive a next step action (for example share, submit, click for the next step, comment) and as a proof of practising what they preached, I noticed that even the PowerPoint had questions not bullets
  • BSD recommend to their client not to mass newsletters. Instead, personalise them and target them
  • The key takeaway was on a ladder of participation, was to create one and measure it for clients. E.g. What’s the total number of consumers a brand reaches? What is the web traffic? How many email sends are there? How many emails are opened? How many Facebook fans on their page? How many people contribute in the on portal community?, and so on.


  • Key take away was their methodology: Listen, Analyse, Relate, Act
  • Conversations happen over multiple channels, not just social media and not just web. For instance they have a travel client and they “listen” to Travelocity and Hotels.com. To put this into context, most social media listening tools focus on Twitter, Facebook and some blog networks.


  • Surinder Phuller was excellent. Social media is about being open and transparent, and she got this more than most of the other social media speakers and other social experts that I’ve met in the last few months.
  • Her presentation was about using video content on social networks to improve sales
  • Their themes/ “targetted methodology” (you had to see it to understand) was to brand content, destinations, and specific hotels
  • It is an opportunity to sell ancillary services such as the spa or restaurant which historically has been very difficult within some hotel locations.
  • They sent Flip video cameras to all the hotels and asked local hotel staff to shoot them and upload them – not professional production teams
  • At first they sent the Flip cameras out and got poor quality videos back, e.g. “Here’s my ballroom, isn’t it lovely?”
  • She then worked on content plans with the hotels, training local staff with 12 month content plans with the above themes, such as asking staff at the Hilton Park Lane on their opinion of the Royal wedding
  • After the content plan the content improved to information about the local area and personal thoughts from staff members
  • The general aim was to get the hotel staff and their personalities into the videos, so you know that when you’re going to stay at a particular Hilton, you know the individual staff before you get there


  • Excellent presentation from Chris Howell, their IT Director
  • The presentation was all about customer experience – measuring it; acting on it; not hiding from the facts when the site has poor performance
  • Chris learned at Tesco what it means to be customer focussed, and his presentation was all about taking that to other companies
  • Chris raised an excellent point which is that the quote “Jack of all trades, master at none” is actually only half the quote. The full quote is “Jack of all trades, master of none, though oftentimes better than master of one“. Definitely the topic of a future blog post!

If you have some time on Wednesday, it’s worth popping down to Earls Court Two and hopefully the presentations will be as insightful as Tuesday’s. Please let me know what you thought of the exhibition via the comments below or on Twitter (@bradbox).

What businesses don’t compete with the Internet?


Looking at my high street, a third of all shops are now empty. Whilst we’ve had a very severe recession, the Internet has destroyed my local electrical, book and music shops as well as countless others.

What businesses based in shops (so builders, electricians, etc.) do not compete with the Internet?

  • Hairdressers & barbers*
  • Food – restaurants, sandwich shops and coffee shops
  • Beauty – nails, tanning, etc.
  • Hotels
  • Gyms
  • Bakers
  • Car cleaners
  • Pubs
  • Nightclubs

*It was my barber who started this discussion!

Whilst these shops don’t have natural competitors on the Internet, they still rely on the Internet for mapping (i.e. a search for ‘pub’ on Google maps) and reviews (I urge all the owners of the shops above to keep checking review sites).

Any other suggestions?

Photo courtesy of Dave Patten on Flickr.

Phone charges – a fundamental reassessment


I’ve just returned from a successful off-site conference at a hotel in Hertfordshire.

There was absolutely no phone coverage in the hotel, and we had to walk 50m away from the building before starting to pick up a signal. It’s a mixed blessing when you don’t get coverage at an offsite event.

In a good way, at least everyone is focussing on the event – less phone and email distractions. However life is never this simple, and with a number of project deadlines, several of us had to keep running outside the hotel to keep checking voicemails and making a few calls.

What annoyed us though was the prices of using the hotel wireless (£15 a day, per person) and the room telephone. £2.25 for free calls – local calls at £1.25 – see the photo above. I was on the phone for a couple of hours each day – so I’d have ended up with a phone bill of over £450 for 3 days.

I dread to think what the prices were like before the fundamental reassessment! 


Review of HotelMap.com

Here’s a site that uses a neat mapping tool, probably the best one I’ve seen for a while:

Unfortunately it’s limited to central London at the moment, but the reason I like the site:

  1. It’s very easy to use – setting up a ‘new’ map takes a minute 
  2. The end user navigation is excellent – I set a map up for our London office (http://www.hotelmap.com/hotelmap/?pro=M7LUT) and it’s really easy to use – with all the various ‘panels’ around the screen. 
  3. The design is nice – I don’t know who did the mapping (it doesn’t look like Bing or Google). 
  4. The concept is pretty neat, of creating a map based on a central location (like the Endava office, or say, Madame Tussaud’s).

Things that they need to work on:

  1. The prices don’t seem particularly great!
  2. The speed of retrieving the costs need to be quicker.