Skift Take

Travel companies have taken myriad paths toward balancing travel inspiration and bookings. Will too much inspiration detract from the business of transactions? Joie de Vivre Hotels' website redesign is an experiment in finding a proper equilibrium.

Joie de Vivre Hotels (JDV) officially launched its new website, featuring a split-screen homepage offering users two choices to explore, research and book their hotel stay.

Supporting that process, there’s now a much richer level of destination content on JDV’s Joyride blog that’s integrated into the hotel pages than previously, and more importantly, there are many different click streams to access that content.

For people who know the specific hotel they’re looking for, the navigational interface on the left half of the homepage directs prospective guests immediately to the property of their choice, organized by destination.

The right half of the homepage is what JDV is calling its Explore tool. When you click on that, you’re directed to choose from one of three themes—Interests, Location or Travelers—to help you discover a hotel that fits your travel and lifestyle preferences.

When clicking on Interests, for example, you’re provided with nine further options ranging from Eclectic Style to Weddings. When you click on any of those you’re provided with an overview of three hotel options, as well as a complete list of JDV hotels aligned with that category.

The Location and Travelers searches are similar. After choosing from a list of five regional and city destinations or five traveler types, the site again outputs three specific hotel suggestions and a list of thematically similar properties.

“The site is based on the idea that so many of our guests are discovery-driven travelers, and every Joie de Vivre hotel has its own story to tell, so it had to feel personal, friendly, playful and approachable,” says Scott Williams, EVP/chief creative officer of Commune Hotels & Resorts, parent company of Joie de Vivre.

“The other tenet was community,” he continues. “Social is critical. We wanted to make sure we were hypersensitive of that, and that we delivered on the hyperlocal aspect of the Joie de Vivre brand. So the location-based, hyperlocal content was super important. We know if we deliver that we’ll deliver better community.”

In effect, the new website is attempting to match the individual hotel personalities with the individual personality of the JDV guest, which has basically been a driving force behind the brand since its inception in the 1980s.

By diversifying the paths that travelers can navigate to consume content on the site, while also expanding the volume of travel content, JDV hopes its redesign will open up the user experience to a wider variety of user engagement behaviors.

“Whenever we can be more editorial and lifestyle oriented, we’re inspiring guests to take a joy ride with us, which covers the gamut,” says Williams. “We’re big in food, we’re big in booze, we’re big in art, architecture, music, design, festivals. Whatever it is, that’s where you get that authenticity…. We want to make the website more personal more than anything, so we want to provide as much personal content as possible.”

Long Scroll Hotel Pages

The dedicated hotel pages are designed with the long scroll format that many new hospitality sites are gravitating toward, with almost all of the hotel information placed on one deep webpage.

As you begin to scroll down below the navigation links on a specific hotel’s main photo slideshow, the run-of-sight nav bar at the very top changes automatically to the individual hotel nav bar. That’s something 99% of users will never notice but it’s a nifty solution to avoid requiring two nav bars.

Content for the individual hotel pages begins with Top Reasons to Stay and a wide selection of photos of all the accommodation options. Unique selling points and guest room shots are top of mind during any hotel search, so that info is placed front and center.

The next section is interesting. A map features notable places to visit near the hotel, bucketed by culture, food/drink, and shopping, and each is linked to their respective Google Map. Rarely, if ever, will you see destination content integrated so prominently this high up on a hotel page.

“We call those our Local Guides, they’re basically a stylized Google Map API with pins, essentially, representing things to do that are core to that properties’ experience,” says Tim Murphy, president of the New York-based Sideways agency, which developed the new JDV portal.

That’s followed by separate sections highlighting amenities, dining, spa, specials and meetings. After that, each individual hotel page features a story from the Joyride blog, which presently is not always about the specific hotel’s respective destination. That’s something that could change, though.

Below the blog post, there’s an Instagram section that gets updated.

“There are brand-created and user-created Instagrams, which is an organic way to get fresh content on the blog with a nice seasonal variety,” says Murphy. “There’s a neat backend component where a social media manager can approve content that then gets pulled automatically into the feed.”

Joie de Vivre Expansion

Last year, we posted a story about Joie de Vivre Hotels’ origins as told by company founder Chip Conley. JDV has primarily been known as a West Coast brand during its almost three decades of operation, but there has been some movement eastward over the last fews years with hotels opening in Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Details are slight presently, but expect to hear significant pipeline development plans for multiple new JDV properties along the East Coast this fall. That was a major impetus for launching the new website now.

“We want to build up the brand awareness, which this site with its two paths—one portfolio-inspired and one destination-inspired—is designed to help facilitate,” says Williams. “Even though we’ve been around for 27 years, if you say Joie de Vivre to people in New York or Florida, they might not know it, but we have an enormous fan base for those who have stayed with us. We are so not cookie cutter, and that’s a wonderful, unique advantage to have in today’s market.”

Greg Oates covers hotel/tourism development and travel brand media. Email: [email protected]

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Tags: design, Joie de Vivre, websites

Photo credit: Homepage of the new Joie de Vivre Hotels

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