(26 September 2008) Hilton Hotels has been testing a beta version of its new global web platform amongst customers in recent weeks.
The UK site will be the first to go live in phases over the next few weeks after an 18- month development process.
The new web platform is structured differently, putting greater emphasis on individual hotel home pages rather than the brand home page.
According to vice president of distribution services Jamie Cole, about half of users go to the hotel page first and only about 9% go anywhere else.
"People are looking to shop narrow but shop deep. Their expectation is extremely high in terms of the information and rich functionality they are looking for. We have put in a lot of Ajax and that is the sort of thing people expect, they have probably learnt from kayak and other supplier sites."
Cole said one of the major changes is on the initial search results, which provide much more detailed information as well as a snapshot in images of properties in the search list. The site also allows people to filter their search in terms of facilities such as car-parking.
The thinking behind the new platform was to create a site for multiple countries and multiple brands. Traditionally there were two different sites for the group – Hilton International catering for one brand across many countries and Hilton Hotels Corporation offering many brands within one country.
The platform has been developed by an internal internet creative team based in Memphis.
Websites for Germany and Japan will be launched by the end of the year followed by the US next year.
Cole, who was speaking at a Travel Technology Initiative conference on Travel Futures said currently 20 to 25% of bookings come via the company´s websites.