Digital disruptor Airbnb has revolutionized the hotel industry, becoming a household name, and continues to evolve rapidly with no shortage of game-changing experiences. Additionally, with the continued development of Google Hotel Ads and other tools, hotels should fear Google the way retailers fear Amazon. Meanwhile, the top ten brands in Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Luxury Hotels US include both hotel giants fighting over points-obsessed loyal guests as well as smaller hotel brands challenging these giants through digital investments in wellness and experiences, morphing the definition of luxury travel.
1. Four Seasons
Digital IQ: 140
Four Seasons soars to the top of this year’s ranking thanks to a plush Instagram chock full of user-generated content, helping it garner more interactions per post than any other tracked brand. The company also weaves UGC into its property pages and cleverly presents discounts as gifts via persistent site pop-ups. Finally, it tempts prospective members with resort credits in exchange for membership sign-ups.
Digital IQ: 135
Hilton heads up video ad impressions, capturing more than a third of overall share of voice through the medium. Additionally, it boasts the second-largest Facebook community and is the only brand out of its peers with a call-to-action button linking to its app. Finally, highly personalized Twitter interactions help Hilton stand out from the customer service crowd on social media.
3. The Ritz-Carlton
Digital IQ: 132
The Ritz-Carlton captures third place in this year’s ranking with comprehensive content optimized for organic search and a travel-by-interest section that enables hotel discovery plus video room tours to ensure guests recognize value prior to booking. The Ritz personalizes content on its website with packing advice and tips on reserving unique experiences in advance. To keep customers coming back, an omnipresent loyalty program allows for easy sign-up at each step of the booking process.
Digital IQ: 130
Fairmont flourishes with the largest Facebook community growth plus a site blog comprised of UGC content and guest stories. Strong promotion of Le Club Accor membership discounts add a tempting flair to each step of the standard booking process and heavy investments static display ads help Fairmont get ahead in mobile and desktop.
Digital IQ: 129
Intercontinental zeroes in on loyalty language in its email subject lines to help drive strong open rates for its distribution list, which is the third-largest out of all tracked brands. Its booking process clearly shares rate details with users minus any extra clicks and highlights customer priorities by easily upselling breakfast and bonus points.
6. W Hotels
Digital IQ: 127
W Hotels wins with the second most video ads served out of all tracked brands, thanks to heavy display advertising investment. Within social media, the brand garners 87% of its video impressions from YouTube and also enhances its Instagram presence by providing links to its branded Spotify playlists as a reflection to its musical roots.
Digital IQ: 126
Sofitel cinches the seventh spot in this year’s ranking with the third-largest Facebook community. This presence, paired with paid Facebook investment, combine to help it yield the second most interactions per post out of all its tracked peers.
Digital IQ: 126
Westin boasts the strongest ownership of branded search results out of brands in Gartner L2’s study. Additionally, it keeps users clicking through the use of a simple booking box to prompt guests, “Where to?”, in their search bar.
Digital IQ: 125
Newcomer Aman demonstrates how smaller, independent brands can play in the big leagues. The company armors up its website with experiences such as “Adventures”, which is featured in the primary navigation section, and builds them into the overall booking process to keep customers interested. Its website is complete with autoplay video banners that promote the curated adventures in addition to the hotel itself.
Digital IQ: 124
Kimpton stands out from the crowd thanks in part to its constant communication with customers. For example, it assigns prime mobile site real estate (top-of-page banners and homepage creatives) to promote last-minute travel arrangements. Additionally, it clearly and consistently promotes IHG Rewards Club throughout the booking process to minimize confusion about its recent rollover to its parent brand loyalty program.