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Website Case Study: Building Multilingual Hotel Websites

Written by | Saturday, 01 June 2013 00:00 | Published in 2013 June
The Portuguese islands of Madeira lie about 550 kilometres to the west of Morocco. We visit the tropical paradise to see why some of the world’s best hotels are attracting their guests with Joomla! websites.
Website Case Study: Building Multilingual Hotel Websites Ville Koistinen, Wikimedia Commons, CCA-SA 3.0

We take an in-depth look here at how two websites were developed for world-renowned hotels on the Portuguese island of Madeira, where over a million tourists visit each year. The first site was built in 2010 with Joomla! 1.5, and the second site was developed using Joomla! 3 and launched just weeks ago.

Projects Overview

Clients: Quinta Jardins do Lago and The Albatroz Beach & Yacht Club

Live Site URLs: http://www.jardinsdolago.com and http://www.albatrozhotel.com

Development time: 3 months each

The Quinta Jardins do Lago is a historic property which is now an elegant luxury hotel set in a lush botanical garden. It was built in the 18th century, and during Napoleonic wars General Beresford, Commander of the British forces on the island, chose it as his residence. It’s ranked as the #1 hotel (of at total of 93) in Madeira’s capital of Funchal, #2 in Portugal, and is also ranked #12 in Europe.

The Albatroz Beach & Yacht Club is a traditional Madeira island Quinta, with a private and stunning seafront stretching 400 metres. It is located on the eastern point of Santa Cruz bay and its pristine waters and sea-bed are amongst the most beautiful to be found in the Atlantic. The property is also a winner of the Tripadvisor Travelers' Choice award 2013.

Development Company: Developer: Navega Bem - Web Design
Developer URL: http://www.navegabem.com
Developer Bio: 'Navega Bem' is a digital marketing, development and responsive web design agency based on Madeira Island, Portugal. The company began creating websites for the tourism industry in the early 1990’s. Today, Navega Bem produces device-independent web projects in many industries. Its speciality is the design and development of search engine friendly CMS websites (Content Management System) crafted around the Joomla! framework.

Development Team:
Chris Szabo, Marketing & Creative Director: Strategy, Vision, Design Direction
Filipe Gonçalves, Chief Software Engineer: Programming, Functionality Planning
Miguel Luís, Pestana Nóbrega, Joana Araújo, Bruno Mota: Additional Programming
Marta Garcês, Designer: Production

Hotel 1 - Meeting the Challenge with Quinta Jardins do Lago

In 2010, Quinta Jardins do Lago was running an aged proprietary CMS. It was difficult for hotel management to keep the site updated, because that required the development company’s direct involvement. Worse, they were often slow to respond. Navega Bem Web Design conducted a a study and proposed a new site that the hotel could manage themselves, with the goal of increasing site traffic and the number of online reservations.

jardins-do-lago

Creating the Solution

Navega Bem staff spent considerable time on the property, exploring the facilities and accommodations, in order to understand the luxury environment and get inspiration for the visual impact the site required. They also researched competitive websites in Madeira and internationally in an effort to identify the strengths and weaknesses of specific layouts and determine a concept for user friendliness.

Creating a multilingual hospitality website is not quite as simple as directly translating the dominant site language. The use of native speakers translators with an understanding of the hospitality industry was important, because flowing, well-written in a guest’s native language text allows them to feel more comfortable.

The most important visual aspect of a hotel website is the quality of the photography. Regardless of how attractive a site layout may be, if the images of rooms, facilities and foods are not of the highest quality, the site’s performance will suffer.

In 2010 Navega Bem did not have luxury of being able to create responsive websites, but their design concept was evolved to develop sites that also looked attractive on a tablet device such as the iPad.

Other required features:

  • User friendly image gallery options.
  • Page specific header images
  • Accordion widget
  • Several image galleries
  • Contact and reservation forms
  • Google Mapping

Extensions Used:

  • Chrono Forms (Chronoengine)
  • aiContactSafe (Algis Info Group)
  • Joomfish
  • AtomiconGallery (by Atomicon)
  • XMAP (Joomla Vargas)

Outcome

The project was launched in 2010 with the support of the local press and media channels and has been a phenomenal success. According to management, the Joomla! 1.5 website soon began accounting for more than 30% of the hotel’s total bookings, and 2013 has been the best year so far in terms of hotel reservations and occupancy.

The Joomla! multilingual website works well, and the increase in bookings paid for the new site within just a couple of weeks after launch. A migration to Joomla! 3 and a new responsive design are now under discussion.

Hotel 2 - Meeting the Challenge with Albatroz Beach & Yacht Club

The Albatroz Beach & Yacht Club’s website was seven years old and running on a proprietary CMS which was difficult to update. Management wanted a solution that updated the hotel website’s visual impact, ease of use and responsiveness.

The main challenge was to integrate a booking engine and encourage guests to make reservations directly on the site, because this reduces the amount of commissions the hotel pays tour operators.

Albatroz-Beach--Yacht-Club

Creating the Solution

The Albatroz Beach & Yacht Club has a unique location on the island of Madeira and is a luxury five star property. The design concept was based on striking photography of the property, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the views that would await them on arrival at the hotel. A responsive template structure was designed in such a way that site visitors could at any time hide text panels and enjoy the view.

The AvailPro Booking Engine was contracted to supply online reservation capability and a smart channel manager. The project provided an excellent opportunity to take advantage of the Falang multilingual component for Joomla! 3. The site was developed with English and Portuguese content and functionality, and more languages are being planned to follow.

Other required features:

  • User friendly image gallery.
  • Page specific background images
  • Google Mapping
  • Access for Trade/Press to download images and Fact Sheets
  • Contact and reservation forms
  • Online Booking Engine

Extensions Used:

  • Chrono Forms (Chronoengine)
  • Widgetkit (YooTheme)
  • sh404SEF (Anything Digital)
  • Xmap (Joomla Vargas)
  • Komento (Stackideas)
  • Jumi (2glux)

Outcome

Within 24 hours of launch, the first reservation came in and online bookings have been arriving so quickly that in just ten days, the site had fully paid for itself.

Says hotel director Gonçalo Lemos Nunes, “I find the software very easy to use and intuitive. The tools provided are more than enough to now allow us to update the site information ourselves. Our guests, and particularly our return guests, are very impressed with our new web site and happy to be able to leave a review or share ideas.”

“Time and time we’ve been approached by hotels that have been imprisoned in a proprietary CMS,” says Navega Bem’s Chris Szabo. “A number of booking engines provide web design services but then use their own proprietary CMS. Once a hotel decides that they need to replace particular booking engine or have to go in a new design direction to stay competitive, they soon realise they will lose their website. For hoteliers the smart option is Joomla!—it means they are not tied to any one design company, developer or to a proprietary, closed application.”

We couldn’t agree more.

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Tagged under Sitebuilders, English
Sully Sullivan

Sully Sullivan

Brian "Sully" Sullivan has been building corporate and non-profit organization websites for 10 years, and using Joomla! almost since it was new. He lives and works in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, where he is a Principal of Terrace Media Group, an independent website development firm specializing in information architecture, search engine optimization, enterprise search services and transaction data management using the Joomla! CMS.