Within the hotel business, competition is fierce and the industry is extremely traditional. How do we create an innovative concept that can challenge traditional hotel concepts? By simplifying the booking process. By using an entirely new approach. We needed a digitization expert to design and implement a strategy that would revolutionize the customer experience.
In September 2013, HTL hotels announced their plans for a new hotel chain. Seven months later, the first hotel opened on Kungsgatan in Stockholm, Sweden. 274 rooms and a lounge open to the public attracted guests from around the world.
Some of the fundamental components of the new hotel chain included smart digital solutions to facilitate hotel guests in conducting research, customizing their hotel visits, reservations and living conditions – and which enabled HTL to highlight its low pricing. These comprise a few of the key elements for the new hotel chain.
Guests at HTL can use a mobile app (developed by Zaplox) as a room key. The app also provides hotel information and a city guide. Guests may also autonomously check in and out.
”Your objective will be to establish a new business model based on the digital platform”
Our assignment was to create a concept and design for the digital end of HTL’s customer experience, with a primary focus on the responsive website, htlhotels.com.
The project was implemented while the hotel room fixtures, pricing model for staying at HTL and other items in the actual offering were still being defined.
What we decided to focus on.
Efter ett inledande strategiskt arbete landande vi i tre tydliga målsättningar:
Building the brand
...and clearly communicate the elements that make HTL unique.
Putting HTL on the map
Increase the general awareness of HTL while creating a strong relationship with the guests.
Directing reservations to the website
Ideally, the majority of guests should make their reservations directly on HTL’s website, instead of through a hotel-reservation portal.
In order to meet the objectives, we needed to understand the target group’s needs and expectations, the driving forces behind HTL’s business and the nature of the hotel market.
We conducted in-depth interviews with potential customers about their attitudes and behavior when selecting accommodation for leisure and business travel. We also read up on previously conducted surveys.
The smartphone is critical
All the research we conducted strongly underscored one common insight: customers frequently use their smartphones to research travel and hotels.
Three critical insights
1. Proceeding from reservation behavior
Hotel stays are booked an average of three weeks prior to the visit and a combination of computers, tablet devices and telephones are frequently used for research prior to a decision to make a particular booking. However, it is has become increasingly common for reservations to be made on very short notice. If a reservation is done only a couple of days prior to the visit, it is usually made over telephone.
Consequently, a hotel website needs to function quickly, smoothly and elegantly, regardless of the potential customer’s device, screen resolution or connection.
2. The feel is of extra importance…
The design and feel are crucial to hotel selection and HTL was a relatively unknown hotel chain at the time of launch. It is highly important that all potential customers have a positive experience and clear idea of what makes HTL special, by the time they search for alternatives.
3. ...including the booking flow
The hotel industry frequently features elegant websites that, upon a decision to book a room, immediately redirect customers to awkward and badly designed booking flows. This is unpleasant for everyone. Our ambitions for the format, speed and experience were equally high for both the presentation of the hotel and all the steps involved in the actual reservation of a room.
The digital design is of equal importance as the lounge and the rooms.
We worked closely with potential end customers in an iterative process to secure the concept, visual style and interface.
We wanted to provide a feel of the city, to immediately state that HTL’s first hotel is located in central Stockholm. We solved this by providing a unique clip of the Stockholm skyline, which we filmed using a drone.
Using a rapid iterative process, we created the design together with HTL’s potential customers.
On the right track?
Once we’d made some headway in our design work, we let two batches of potential customers rank the visual impression, allowing us to assess if we were on the right track.
We settled on an airy, modern feel, with large attention-grabbing images and generous blocks of content.
Brand = interface
Numerous aspects influence our perception of a brand. One crucial aspect is the experience of services and their degree of usability. The booking flow is central to any hotel service. Every detail we created in the reservation interface was carefully considered and directly based on our insights on customer behavior – without deviating from HTL’s overall visual concept.
Click on the image to zoom.
Ready, steady, book!
HTL’s first hotel was almost fully booked before even opening. During the summer of 2014, guests from more than 80 countries stayed at the hotel. Within the next five years, HTL will open 20 hotels across Europe.
”Thanks to Daytona’s creative mindset we were able to launch the htlhotels.com website which visually and functionally stands out from traditional hotel sites. The purpose was to excel when creating a simplified yet engaging customer experience with high level of conversion. Daytona’s strong focus on insights and identification of possibilities within the customer journey also contributed to the creation of a unique digital platform for HTL.”
Nominated for Design S
”A modern design created by steady craftsmanship of typography, graphics and services offered. A successful interface with an adaptive design suitable for both end-customers and the back office. Like a piece of well-shaped cutlery.”
— Design S jury
Digital prize of the Year
”The hotel chain has focused on digital and mobile from the start, with the guest in focus and smart features for booking and check-in. At the hotel, the guest can open the room with their mobile phones without key cards, and the digital experience is extended into the room with solutions that simplify.”
— Grand Travel Award 2015 Jury
Three questions for John Mattsson, Art Director
What are you most proud of?
— The booking flow is distinct and smart, and in line with the HTL brand.
What was the greatest challenge in the HTL assignment?
— It was definitely a challenge to communicate the combination of HTL as a good-value hotel with superior quality.
What was special about the HTL assignment?
— Working for a start-up, where both HTL as a company and their offering were under constant and rapid development.
Roles in the project
- Research, concept, design and interface: Daytona
- Conceptual idea and interior design: Koncept Stockholm
- Graphic print profile: McCann