Monday, January 16, 2012

Four Seasons unveils $18 million website as luxury travel grows


Four Seasons is well known for its luxury qualities so a website portraying its properties and destinations with large, professional images and other bells and whistles is no surprise.

What is a surprise is the $18 million investment in this latest incarnation of the brand’s online presence.
Perhaps not when you factor in that it is geared towards the very wealthy and developed for a company targeting worldwide revenue growth of 9.2% in 2012.
While it would be nice to have a breakdown of the spend to see what money buys in the digital world these days, Four Seasons has declined.
The figure is likely to include the big, bright photography, new booking process, mobile optimisation, social media integration and personal profile technology with the ability to set preferences which will enable Four Seasons to create a more targeted online experience.
It might also cover the extensive research around digital consumption conducted for the development of the site as well as focus groups to improve the understanding of guests’ needs (results shared below).
A final clue to the website spend might be in the fact that while it attracts 30 million visitors a year – up 10% from 2010, revenue from online only represents 12% of total revenue – an increase of just 2% in five years.
The new website is geared up to speak to the findings of the first issue of the 2012 Four Seasons Luxury Trends report which focuses on digital technology and reveals the likes and expectations of luxury travellers.
  • 57% like to have the latest gadget according to the Affluence Collaborative compared to 18% of the general population
  • 71% bring a smartphone with them on their travels while 61% bring a tablet device
  • The company experienced a 200% increase in bookings completed on a tablet device in 2011
  • 72% surveyed by Four Seasons are active Facebook users and 36% are active on Twitter
  • Twitter usage by guests increased 350% between 2009 and 2010 and is expected to continue to grow at the same rate
  • YouTube video views now total 280,000, a 30% increase on this time last year
  • Luxury travellers say the most important online activity, 59%, while in transit to or staying at a hotel is reviewing information about activities in the local area
  • The most important in-room technology includes good mobile phone coverage, fast wifi, charging stations and wireless printing
  • Guests still want the personal touch at the hotel with only 32% citing the ability to check-in without speaking to someone as valuable compared to the 78% of respondents who saw kiosks for airline check-in as valuable

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