I just came back from a trip where I had the pleasure of staying at The Halekulani Hotel in Honolulu. And the overwhelming feeling I had while at that hotel was one of luxury and being well tended – relaxation to the hilt with beautiful views of Diamond Head and the Waikiki beaches. I’m hard pressed to remember a better experience with a hotel.
I’m writing this blog because of two things that hit me as a result of this experience (and also part of my experience before arriving).
First – the lasting impression their branding left on me. It was straightforward, clean and simple – the name of the hotel and/or an orchid. The orchid was pervasive, yet tastefully done. I even noticed it on the hardware for the privacy lock on the hotel room door! While subtle, it was also ever-present and it frequently drew your attention to things they wanted you to notice – conveniences, security, luxury, etc. Their orchid was on the bottom of the swimming pool, it was even on the clear plastic sleeve that held the NY Times digest that you get at hotels.
Second – in spite of this incredible attention to brand marketing detail, they missed the boat when it came to keeping their brand and presence intact online. Their home page was coded using Flash technology, which does not work on the iPad or particularly well with smart phones. So, when we were calling it up on my husband’s iPad to do some advance planning, we couldn’t see it. Now, you can argue that a hotel with the stature, reputation and recognition that the Halekulani has doesn’t need to worry about that – people will simply understand and go to a “normal” computer to see their site. Yet I also noticed that there is plenty of competition where they are on Waikiki Beach and many visitors from Japan and California – two places where residents skew toward the use of those types of devices. What’s more, Hawaii in general depends on tourist and business travel traffic for their economy which has some pronounced ups and downs.
Is it time for the hospitality industry, which seems to be heavily reliant on Flash programming, to do some fresh thinking about their online brand and presence? Flash is the darling of many website in the hospitality business, including restaurants. What good does a vibrant graphic website do you when you can’t be seen with newer devices? Besides, there are plenty of alternative designs and technologies that impact the pizzazz of Flash – and you can see those websites!