Marriott International has begun revamping its Web site to make it easier for customers to find and book hotel rooms and to access their loyalty accounts.
Improvements include a modernized look and feel, more intuitive layout, and one-click guest access to Marriott Rewards account from anywhere in the site. These customer-driven changes are the first in a series over the next year that will result in a "complete overhaul of Marriott.com," according to Bill Marriott, Marriott International chairman and CEO, who writes about the changes in his blog.
"Today, 8% of visits to Marriott.com result in bookings," Marriott writes. "We know we can raise that number and even a slight increase is worth many dollars." Future changes on the site will include adding more information about the company's brands, hotels, room rates and packages.
To encourage customers to check out the new design, Marriott is giving consumers chances to win travel and gift card prizes in an online sweepstakes running through Dec. 8.
Marriott.com is the company's largest point of consumer interaction, with more than 12 million visits each month. More than 75% of guests use the site when planning or booking their hotel stays, says Shafiq Khan, senior vice president, eCommerce for the Bethesda, Md.-based Marriott International.
"When we surveyed guests, they gave Marriott.com the highest satisfaction rate -- 92% -- of all possible booking channels," Khan says. "Customers make 2,000 times more bookings in an hour on Marriott.com than they did in 1999, making it our company's fastest-growing booking channel."
However, other feedback revealed that new visitors could find the site confusing, and they often left and booked hotels elsewhere, Khan says. Marriott reached out and involved customers in evaluating multiple new design concepts for Marriott.com, ultimately landing on one that those customers described as "innovative," "simple and easy to use," "intuitive to navigate" and "more interactive."
For the redesign, Marriott is trying to keep aspects of the site that work well for frequent visitors, but to also make it easier for newer customers to navigate. The changes also take effect on Marriott's international Web sites in the United Kingdom, Germany, China, Latin America, Australia, Japan, Korea, Brazil and France.
Marriott International includes 3,300 lodging properties in 68 countries and territories. Marriott International operates and franchises hotels under the Marriott, JW Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance, Residence Inn, Courtyard, TownePlace Suites, Fairfield Inn, SpringHill Suites and Bulgari brand names.
The company also had redesigned its travel agent Web site offering agents new functionalities based on specific feedback from the travel agent community. Included is the ability to access and view commission statements online, and easier access and booking of special rates.
Earlier this year, Marriott launched the "Love Travel Agents" campaign, which includes elements designed to help educate Marriott's hotel sales teams on how to maximize the travel agent relationship. This global campaign may be accessed through the redesigned travel agent Web site, and allows travel agents and industry partners to download free "Love Travel Agents" collateral.