May 5, 2012 in Business

Red Lion to overhaul its website

By The Spokesman-Review
 
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Spokane’s Red Lion Hotels is revamping its website in hopes of getting more people to book visits there rather than at other online travel sites.

Company Executive Vice President Harry Sladich said the makeover will affect the main Redlion.com site plus 44 microsites for the chain’s individual hotels.

The goal is to save money by gaining more online reservations at its own sites instead of through online companies such as Expedia or Hotels.com.

“When (guests) make reservations through online travel agents, we take a substantial discount on the money they’re spending,” Sladich said.

The discount varies depending on how big the booking site is. Big sites like Expedia or Travelocity get close to 35 percent; smaller sites are taking cuts in the 20 percent range, Sladich said.

All bookings made at Red Lion’s site stay with the company.

Sladich said the current Red Lion website doesn’t attract enough reservations and needs a complete redesign to make it more appealing and easier to use.

He’s seen some research that suggests many online shoppers visit more than five travel sites before making their reservations.

Red Lion is spending several hundred thousand dollars to have hotel consulting firm TravelClick redesign the site and develop a focused Web marketing campaign.

Red Lion is a midsize West Coast hotel chain with operations across eight states and British Columbia.

The revamped main Red Lion website will debut in July, Sladich said. The company’s individual hotel sites will make the change later this year.

TravelClick intends to add hyperlocal content for all of the Red Lion online sites, with the intention of making guests more aware of local interests, events and destinations.

Sladich said this will help distinguish Red Lion from the big travel websites that compete mostly on price.

“We’ll try to identify what’s unique about each location,” Sladich said. “For instance, we’ve learned that Wenatchee has an inordinate number of wild rabbits.”

Red Lion won’t ignore the importance of sites like Expedia and Travelocity, he added.

“They are a tool and we’ll continue to use them. We certainly don’t have the ability to animate 2 million eyeballs like Expedia does,” he said.

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