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Travel consumers have voiced their demand for hotel brands to inject more compelling travel content into their websites. It seems Peninsula Hotels was listening.
Peninsula Hotels officially launched its new website this week, packed with in-depth content about its hotels, their destinations, exclusive tours, and some of the lore surrounding Asia’s oldest hospitality brand.
In this era of hospitality content marketing, few, if any, hotel websites have so many different entry points to delve into experiential travel content.
As is custom these days, the site opens with a full-screen visual slideshow. The lead photo is Peninsula’s most iconic image—the fleet of Rolls-Royce Silver Shadows operated by the flagship Peninsula Hong Kong—driving in front of Central Island’s cityscape at night.
The top nav bar features three experience buckets: Peninsula Experience, PenCities and Moments. The homepage also gets right to business with specific travel experiences and the “Peninsula Academy” educational program below the opening slideshow.
Starting from the top, The Peninsula Experience begins with a progressive storytelling slideshow called: “The Story of How It All Began,” highlighting the hotel group’s long history. The origins of the company date back to the late 1800s when Sir Elly Kadoorie purchased 25 shares in The Hongkong Hotel Company, and later acquired majority stock in The Shanghai Hotel Company in 1922.
The merger of the two formed The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels Group (HSH), which exists to this day as the parent company of Peninsula Hotels and various other Asian and U.S. assets.
This is where you can start to lose a couple hours exploring the site and learning about how the hotels originally anchored major transportation routes connecting Europe, Asia and America by railway and sea.
For example, in 1922 the HSH-owned Grand Hotel des Wagon-Lits was Beijing’s swankiest hotel, located at the terminus of the Trans-Siberian railway route. Likewise, The Peninsula Hong Kong opened in 1928 as “the finest hotel east of Suez,” welcoming passenger ships near its central location on the Kowloon side of the harbor.
The historical timeline ends with “The Next Chapter,” announcing the brand’s entrance into Europe for the first time with The Peninsula Paris opening in August, and London in development. Along with English, Chinese and Japanese, the new website also launched in French in anticipation of the Paris property’s grand opening.
From there, the Peninsula Experience provides overviews of each of the hotels, linked to the individual hotel landing pages. After that, The Guest Experiences sub-section has a “Defining Luxury” navigation menu including: Services, Design, Technology and Innovation.
Under the Tech button, there’s a few details about The Peninsula Hotels Research & Technology Department, created in 1985 to design and test all of the technology initiatives at the hotels in-house—the first of its kind.
Following that, the Peninsula Experience shows different ways guests access the hotels, from Thai riverboats in Bangkok to helicopter roof landings in Manila.
That segues into the Inspired Dining section, with a diverse range of photography and short editorial blurbs about the brand’s most high profile restaurants and lounges, including the popular terraces in Chicago and New York.
PenCities is a collaboration with LUXE City Guides to portray travel experiences in each of the nine Peninsula cities, with information curated exclusively for Peninsula Hotels’ wealthy, well-traveled clientele.
If you’re staying at The Peninsula Beverly Hills, for example, the PenCities guide recommends you try brunch at The Bossy Wife & Co. restaurant in West Hollywood. And while you’re there, you should order “the weird but somehow compelling Indonesian cheese-on-toast with chocolate sprinkles and fruit.”
In Shanghai, PenCities suggests “Tex Mex & Tipples” at the Pocho Social Club. The restaurant/lounge “comes courtesy of Texan-by-way-of-Mexico owner Jake, who sought to recreate the convivial ambience of the quintessential Latin American bar.”
Other Shanghai recommendations include shopping for new fashions at the contemporary Dong Long Studio in the buzzy French Concession district, and watching both high- and low-brow theater performances in English at the avant garde Urban Aphrodite theater company.
Presently there are over 1,400 PenCities selections to choose from, which Peninsula says will be updated twice weekly.
Moments & The Peninsula Academy
The Moments section profiles on-property experiences like the Vintage Rides car exhibit at The Peninsula Shanghai. The hotel partnered with Shanghai Auto Museum to bring a fleet of restored classic automobiles on-site, ranging from a 1951 Jaguar XK 120 roadster to a 1941 Buick.
At The Peninsula Bangkok, a photography exhibit called Visions of the River is a collection of both professional and amateur imagery of the Chao Phraya River.
This would be a good section of the site to promote members of the staff and tell their stories to infuse a little more human element into the Moments content.
Shanghai Auto Museum offers Peninsula guests private tours through the museum as part of “The Peninsula Academy” first launched in 2012. These are educational-themed destination programs designed to deliver both an insider look at local culture and opportunities for personal learning.
Here is another Peninsula Academy example at Hong Kong:
Hidden among the city’s skyscrapers and behind its crowded window displays remain vestiges of the finest traditional Hong Kong craftsmanship and the city’s golden era of manufacturing. The Peninsula Academy’s “Hong Kong Traditions Well Served” programme seeks out the artisans of the city’s disappearing crafts and takes you on a journey of discovery to meet them. These include the creators of the bamboo-and-flower displays that adorn outdoor Chinese Opera theatres; paper-tearing artists; shadow-puppet masters, lion dancers and qipao-button crafters. More than a learning experience, this experiential programme supports Hong Kong’s traditional crafts by contributing to their sustainability through education and awareness building.
Lastly, viewers can access The Peninsula Magazine in the middle of the Moments landing page. That adds a further layer to the website’s engagement level with stories like “A Golden Age,” depicting vintage travel posters promoting Hong Kong. The posters communicate a long forgotten era of glamour in travel, which in the Far East began with The Peninsula Hotels.