The J House Greenwich is a boutique luxury hotel in Greenwich, Connecticut, that wanted to breathe new life into their desktop website to better showcase their features and amenities, and make it easy for mobile consumers to find what they were looking for on the go.
We spoke with their Assistant General Manager, Bernard Augustin, to get the inside scoop on how he revamped his marketing strategy to adapt to the new mobile travel shopping journey and increased mobile bookings.
Q: We heard the J House got an interesting start as a property!
A: The J House is an 86-room boutique property developed from an old Howard Johnson property – that’s actually how we got our name. Ho J, J House. The property went through years of construction with the emphasis of building a technology-driven hotel. We opened in May 2012.
Q: So you’re a fresh new property. What were some of the first things you did as Assistant GM?
A: When I took over operations of the property, we were spending about $1,200 a month on a website that wasn’t quite producing what I thought it should.
Q: Wow, that’s pricey! Why do you think it wasn’t producing what it should have?
A: Well, one of the challenges we face is that we have so many different things going on, so to convey that and all the services we offer is difficult. A frequent complaint I’ve heard from guests checking out or walking around the hotel is that they didn’t know we had a pool, they didn’t know we offer continental breakfast. We needed a website that would easily showcase all those things.
Q: Of course. Ideally, you want to answer guests’ questions when they’re researching, so you make them confident to book.
A: Right. So with Leonardo’s product, Vizlly, we can easily and seamlessly do that. When you go onto our website now, you’ll see an image of our standard room. The great thing about the new site is you get visuals of different aspects of the hotel from our lounge area to our coffee bar to meeting spaces. Just with imagery, you get a real knack for what’s going on at the hotel without any words – which has been very significant for us and a great change.
Q: Your website is really visually-compelling. That’s one of the things our customers have said they love about Vizlly: it makes it easy to tell (and show) your unique story. Now that approximately 60% of Google searches are made on mobile devices, how do you make sure you’re telling your story on mobile, too?
A: With everyone glued to mobile devices, you realize how important it is to have some mobile muscle. We’ve been able to tell potential guests who we are on mobile devices and we’ve seen direct results from it just 45 days since using the product.
We have really strong data that shows the change in booking habits of our guests over the years. In 2012, the first year the hotel opened, we had 5,000 transient bookings and about 300 were from mobile. Now about 40% of bookings in 2015 came from transient guests booking on mobile devices.
Q: That’s a significant increase. Since launching your new mobile optimized website, have you seen any direct results?
A: In just 45 days, we’ve increased mobile bookings by 42%!
We’ve also seen an increase in meeting inquiries on our mobile site. Before, it was a little convoluted (to book a meeting). Now, something as simple as having an email link on our mobile site – we’re getting so many emails coming in for our meeting spaces that we’ve been able to convert. Before, our site had a form system and we found in the past month and a half, people don’t want to fill out all that information.
We’re also seeing less phone calls from potential bookers – which keeps our guest services associates focused and free to be more productive in other areas.
Plus, we’re seeing a steady stream of new guests which was surprising. We have a lot of frequent fliers. But we’ve seen a lot of new faces and I speak to them because I want to get to the bottom of how people are finding us – and they’re finding us through Google and booking us through the mobile site which is phenomenal. It’s a great way to see immediate change.
Q: Those results are incredible! During our webinar, you mentioned you’re also getting higher ADR from mobile bookings. Why’s that?
A: More last minute bookings are coming in and we’re getting higher rates from guests booking on mobile because they’re in a rush and they just want to get it done.
We boosted our rates because we’ve seen such a vast experience in booking. Our least expensive rate is at $245/night – before we were around $195. That’s a huge increase in two to three months.
We’re showing a better product, so we can raise rates. And we’re selling.
Q: Great to hear, Bernard. So tell us in a few final words: what’s the biggest benefit you’ve seen from Vizlly?
A: Number one, the biggest benefit is ease of use. It’s a packaged product – it’s very simple to use and it looks really nice. Number two is the price point – its cut our cost substantially – we’ve gone from $1,200 a month for our website to under $300 – and we’re getting a better product, increasing our ROI. It makes me look like a rock star.
The biggest issue for lots of hospitality professionals is budget. This is cost-effective. The question is do I want to spend $20,000 on a website, send emails for changes, have no control over it or spend a lot less, have a full support team, have a back end where I can go in and make changes and have flexibility?
This is a $15,000-$20,000 or more website that we’ve gotten for much less. At the end of the day, it becomes a no brainer.
Thanks for sharing your experience, Bernard! To learn more and see exactly what Bernard’s new websites look like, check out the full case study here.