“We want to make the web a sales and marketing tool as well as a distribution channel,” said Tim Davis, senior vice president of distribution and e-commerce at Hilton International. “We are making a significant investment in e-commerce over the next five years, with the intention if increasing the percentage of rooms sold online to 20%.”
“Two thirds of our internet bookers are frequent guests – our best customers – and we see this as a chance to utilise the web to improving their experience,” Davis added. “This could mean outlining room preferences or redeeming loyalty points online – anything that makes their lives easier.”
As the first stage of the online revamp, Hilton International has made an £8m investment in technology that will allow it to offer its largest source markets – the UK, Germany and Japan – online services in local languages.
“Users will be able to interact in local languages with all hotels worldwide, which is unique in the industry,” said Davis. “We will be able to target local users with prices and relevant offers, catering for specific demands. We want to use the web to reach for more customers around the world, without having to use third parties.”
Hilton International has enlisted a total of 12 suppliers for the local languages initiative, including Sapient for development and integration, Interwoven for content management, Oracle for databases, Sun for hardware and Cable & Wireless for hosting. “Hilton does not believe in doing IT projects in-house – we want best of breed,” said Davis.
The UK site launched in June, with the German site due to go live this month, followed by Japan in October. Hilton’s Scandic brand sites, covering Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark, will also launch in October.