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Intourist Hotel Group’s success story

JSC VAO Intourist is a legendary travel company with the history of more than 80 years. Today it runs the chain of hotels under the brand Intourist Hotel Group. The chain comprises 9 hotels with the total room fund of more than 2500 rooms.

In Russia Intourist Hotel Group runs 3-star and 3+star hotels which are situated in areas of high business and tourism concentration: in Moscow, Uglich, Rostov Veliky and in Altai. Abroad the company focuses on 4-star and 5-star hotels. They are situated in countries of high travel demand: Italy, Turkey, the Czech Republic.

Larissa Chigarinova
 
Larissa Chigarinova
Head of Advertising and Communications Department of VAO Intourist

The work done

2009—2010»
  • audit and optimization of the Cosmos’s website;
  • integration of the Internet Booking Engine (IBE) «TravelLine: Hotel» into the website hotelcosmos.ru;
2011»
  • the development of the new Cosmos’s website
2012»
  • further modification of the Cosmos’s website;
  • the integration of the visa support service iVisa into the website hotelcosmos.ru;
  • scale internet-promotion of the Cosmos’s website;
  • audit of the corporate website of the Intourist Hotel Group chain;
  • the development of the new version of the website intourist-hotels.ru
2013 — present time»
  • the development of the new version of the Cosmos’s website;
  • systematic development of the corporate Intourist Hotel Group website

TravelLine solutions:

  • Auditing and optimization of the website;
  • The integration of the Internet Booking Engine (IBE);
  • The development of the new website;
  • Website’s maintenance;
  • The integration of visa support iVisa;
  • The development of the mobile version of website.

2009—2010

Auditing and optimization of the website hotelcosmos.ru

Complex auditing made by TravelLine revealed some mistakes typical for Russian hotel websites. There were two main drawbacks among them.

Firstly, the site contained a so called splash page. The problem is that the splash page is an additional obstacle on the way to the home page and useful information.

Secondly, the Internet Booking Engine was missing. You had to make a call in order to book a room. If you have a look at the screenshot of the main page, you’ll notice some paragraphs of small print in the most noticeable part of the site (on top, to the right). This is contact information. The placement is right, but the abundance of phone numbers confuses the customer. What number should you dial to book a room?

Starting working at the website we removed the splash page and transferred the contact information box to the bottom.

The site contained a so called splash page The Internet Booking Engine was missing We removed the splash page and transferred the contact information box to the bottom
 

The integration of the Internet Booking Engine (IBE) into the website hotelcosmos.ru

To increase direct sales and reduce the reservation cost price we introduced the possibility of online booking to the Cosmos site. In the menu there was added a special item, highlighted in red for attracting attention. We placed the noticeable booking form in the home page.

The result

The changes seemed to be insignificant, but they had produced an effect. The updated Cosmos website became profitable since the first days of its work. The percentage of the customers, who finally booked a room, had doubled. The Intourist’s direction decided to install the IBE «TravelLine: Hotel» in the rest sites of the chain.

«The emergence of the IBE in the Cosmos’s site in 2009 led to an immediate increase in reservation. The simplicity of usage, the possibility of getting an instant booking confirmation, the diversification of means of payment are the principal advantages that our guests made use of. Russian as well as foreign guests have no difficulty in using the IBE «TravelLine»
Larissa Chigarinova,
Head of Advertising and Communications Department of VAO Intourist

2011

The development of the new Cosmos’s website.

The next year Intourist made a decision to allocate budget for the development of the new Cosmos’s website. The direction realized that this step would bring the online sales up to the higher level.

In spite of modifications the present site was behind the hotel standard. It was rather a dummy than a selling internet resource. That is why we had worked out the structure of the new site afresh together with Intourist. We used the «online-supermarket» technique: every site element should sell goods and services.

A photogallery occupied almost a third of the home page. Slideshow demonstrates the rooms design, lobby, conference halls, and restaurants. It arises interest and desire to take a closer look at the Cosmos.

The booking form preserved its place – in the right top corner. We just added a motivator: «At the best price of the day!»

Below the fold we also placed a box with special offers. Below – the news and the short description of the hotel. The text contained key words that are necessary for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

In the footer we noted that the site is official. Thus we marked it out among the intermediary sites that belong to travel agents.

The new Cosmos’s website
The new Cosmos’s website
 

The result

The new structure and content of the site increased the Cosmos’s online sales once again. The conversion rate on the internet resource increased from less than 1% to 3%. Hotelcosmos.ru won the first place in the contest «The best hotel website – 2011» which was held under the aegis of Russian hotel association.

«Redesign was an opportune and reasonable step towards the activation of usage of all the Internet potential. In fact, at that time the foundation, which led to super positive result, was laid»
Larissa Chigarinova,
Head of Advertising and Communications Department of VAO Intourist

2012

The further development of the Cosmos’s website.

Every year the market demands of the hotel internet-representation a larger number of selling elements and interactive services. That is why some new features were added to hotelcosmos.ru.

  • The main photogallery got a motivating text and link buttons to special offer or advertising section.
  • Block «Rooms and prices» was added. There the room categories and current prices are displayed. Beside is a button «Book room».
  • In «Contacts» section the rout maps «How to get to the Cosmos Hotel» appeared. They are actualized with the help of Yandex services.

Other website elements which have increased its selling power are described in our blog. Described modifications were fulfilled within the site maintenance according to the traffic «The leader of the market». Intourist got from TravelLine full technical support and any kind of consultation on site functioning, promotion and improvement of the site characteristics.

The further development of the Cosmos’s website
The further development of the Cosmos’s website
 

Besides we attached the Cosmos to the latest service «TravelLine: Analytics». This tool traces the users’ behavior and shows the time history of the online sales. With the help of «TravelLine: Analytics» it is possible to study the search requests, to look through the lists of cities, where the users live, to estimate the popularity of means of payment for online booking and many other things.

«It is impossible to work out a strategy without understanding the key indicators – how it worked, what has changed, why so and why not the other way around. The service «TravelLine: Analytics» takes into consideration all our demands, gives an accurate account of all current processes»
Larissa Chigarinova,
Head of Advertising and Communications Department of VAO Intourist

The integration of visa support iVisa

In 2012 in hotelcosmos.ru IBE of visa invitations iVisa. Using our developed service, foreigners can get documents necessary for obtaining Russian visa in few minutes. You can get more detailed information in ivisa.ru.

«iVisa is very simple in use, the system works constantly and accurately. The speed of visa invitation registration deserves a special praise. For obtaining documents it is enough to insert the minimum of personal information and pay for the booking by credit card»
Larissa Chigarinova,
Head of Advertising and Communications Department of VAO Intourist

Internet promotion of the website and Internet marketing

So, we had created a complete selling site for the Cosmos. Its users got convenient and functional online services. The number of direct reservations grew constantly, but Intourist was looking for extra ways of sales increase. In the end of 2011 we won a tender for complex Internet promotion of the Cosmos. Our client set a serious task on increase in the visibility of the Cosmos brand in the web, increase in traffic, income and in number of reservations.

We worked out a strategy of the website promotion within the limited budget and severe competition at the market of Moscow hotel services. The main efforts were laid to:

The result

During the year we had achieved a 27% increase of unique users and a 24% increase of the number of online reservations. Due to all modifications, introduction of TravelLine’s online services and promotion the site profit had grown by 33%.

«The result of the site promotion in 2012 was the increase in rate, in number of reservations and in income from booking. We worked hard together with TravelLine’s team, and this led to the positive results of our one-year activity, which was quite expected»
Larissa Chigarinova,
Head of Advertising and Communications Department of VAO Intourist

The intourist-hotels.ru audit

Having achieved a success with the Cosmos, we received an order for the development of the corporate website of the Intourist Hotel Group chain. The main goal of this Internet resource is the increasing in rooms and services sales. The second goal is the support of its image as a large responsible corporation, the creation of the image of the company that manages assets professionally and runs business processes seamlessly.

The audit showed that the existing website intourist-hotels.ru solved none of the described problems. It was informative as the VAO Intourist staff filled it with the company news on-the-fly. However, the structure of the site prevented the users from understanding, distorted the image of the company. Besides, a number of important functions (for example, online rooms and services booking) were missing. Because of that the selling constituent was actually missing.

The audit showed that the existing website is not ready to fulfill its tasks and needs a thorough modification.

The intourist-hotels.ru audit
The intourist-hotels.ru audit
 

The development of the new website of Intourist Hotel Group chain

The new version of the Internet resource, developed by TravelLine in 2012, got the following principal elements:

  • The new menu structure. New sections, such as «Booking», «Special offers» and «Health & Spa» were added.
  • The slideshow in the home page became controllable. If desired a guest can choose a poster himself and pass to the corresponding section for detailed information.
  • Section «About company» includes points «Reports», «Constitutional documents» and «Tenders». The name of the section defines the target audience.
  • IBE «TravelLine: Hotel» is integrated into the website. It allows selecting any hotel of the management company and booking a suitable room there.
  • Section «Vacancies» was renamed into «Career» and placed in the main menu. One of the main tasks of the website is the personnel search and forming of the image of important and reliable employer.

The website has been developed for only two months after the setting a goal.

The development of the new website of Intourist Hotel Group
The development of the new website of Intourist Hotel Group
 

The result

The new Internet resource intourist-hotels.ru represents a full selling platform. Now the users can book a room in any hotel of the Intourist Hotel Group chain in 2-3 minutes, thus increasing the number of direct sales. Moreover, the strict design commands respect to the company, reflects the legendary story of the VAO Intourist.

2013 — present time

The release of the mobile version of the Cosmos’s website

23 December 2012 a mobile version of the website hotelcosmos.ru was released. The absence of the heavy images and superfluous functions makes the loading faster and makes it cheaper for the users of the mobile Internet.

A simplified site version contains just the most important information about the hotel complex. Of course, the mobile version offers online booking.

Interesting numbers: 25% users of the website mobile version enjoy Apple iPad. Another 25% - Apple iPhone. The most popular browsers are Safari (almost 33%), Opera Mini (almost 29%) and Android Browser (21%).

Mobile version of the Cosmos’s website
Mobile version of the Cosmos’s website
 
«During 2012 the number of www.hotelcosmos.ru users, enjoying their mobiles, has grown by 278%! And this striking number continues to grow! That is why we decided to create a mobile version of the Cosmos’s website. TravelLine has coped with this task brilliantly. During the first days after the activation of the «mobile» website we began getting reservations»
Larissa Chigarinova,
Head of Advertising and Communications Department of VAO Intourist

The development of the Intourist Hotel Group corporate website

The resource intourist-hotels.ru. is being currently improved and developed. Besides, TravelLine systematically develops the websites for other hotels of the chain. They follow the unified corporate pattern. The direct sales and guests’ loyalty are growing every month. The VAO Intourist receives favorable reviews from partners and investors.

«It is impossible not to go further, we should use modern marketing techniques to the full. Convenient and friendly websites of our hotels chain headed by the Cosmos’s website and the single network portal intourist-hotels.ru, created by TravelLine, give the guests a wonderful possibility to get services immediately»
Larissa Chigarinova,
Head of Advertising and Communications Department of VAO Intourist

The goal for the future: to raise the sales of the corporate website intourist-hotels.ru and of other chain hotels to the level of the Cosmos.

The success story was created by:

The Cosmos’s personnel
«We express special gratitude to all TravelLine stuff and personally to the director general Alexander Galochkin for being a professional, for his will to anticipate and satisfy all our desires. Our volumes of work are great, we need everything to be done quickly. Our partners react to our ideas and requests and fulfill them without delay»
Larissa Chigarinova,
Head of Advertising and Communications Department of VAO Intourist
Ekaterina Orlova-Sadoyan,
Advertising specialist of JSC VAO Intourist
TravelLine team
Project managers
Alexander Galochkin
Sergey Kalinin
Support service manager
Kseniya Makarova
Promotion (SEO, PPC)
Yuriy Kryachek
Irina Shutova
Art director
Sergey Lapin
Designers
Sergey Lapin
Denis Korablev
Illustrator
Viktor Varfolomeev
Webmaster
Yuriy Karakulov
Copywriters
Ekaterina Kluzheva
Maxim Pimenov
Anatoly Dryagin