Centara Hotels & Resorts is Thailand’s leading hotel operator, with 81 deluxe and first-class properties across all of the major tourist destinations in the Kingdom, as well as a further 34 hotels and resorts in the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Laos, China, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Dedicated to providing exceptional service in unique and sophisticated environments, the Thai hospitality management and holding company places a strong emphasis on providing Thai-influenced hospitality and its innate warm service across all its brands whilst embracing and maintaining a sense of place in the local environment of each property.
Centara was using a custom-made CMS developed in 2005 by a local Thai agency. Although it improved its platform over the years, content management remained very difficult. Any input and pages had to be created by developers and its marketing team members had zero ability to handle content management directly. This made it impossible to decentralise content management to hotels and was a major roadblock for the group’s corporate office as everything was centrally managed. Third-party integration was also really difficult as the entire system was on a non-scalable architecture. In addition, its loyalty program journey was confusing and the integration with its booking engine was limited.
Although Centarahotelsresorts.com is its most profitable channel, it stood idle for too long while all of its competitors continued to invest heavily. It was critical for Centara to revamp its digital experience in order to achieve a much higher share of total room revenue for direct business and bookings. Moreover, it needed to implement a platform that would allow the team to develop a true omnichannel experience for its guests. Creating a new website is only the first step of a long journey but Centara knew it needed the ability to give its marketers adequate control of its content, allowing decentralizing to hotels via smart workflows and seamless integration with its booking engine for web visitors to see prices in real time for offers and rooms. It sought to develop a seamless experience for CentaraThe1 (C1) Loyalty program members including a fully integrated e-commerce experience. It was also interested to integrate with a translation management service (TMS) to allow scalable translation management and with user-generated content from leading social media and review platforms. Finally, it envisioned better management of micro data such as schema.org for improved SEO.
Centara studied Forrester research papers and used the Gartner Magic Quadrant scoring system to shortlist the CMSs that it would explore, which included Kentico, OpenText and Sitecore. Proximity with the different technology providers and the implementation agencies played an important role in its final decision, as it was keen to work with partners that had a regional, if not domestic, presence. Ultimately, the open source route was preferred in compliance with its parent Central Group, and Acquia was selected.
The different integrations it has built within Acquia Site Factory and Drupal helped Centara to manage the content production and publication much more efficiently, in a context where it was extremely important to be fast to market. Centara’s marketing and e-commerce teams worked together to implement Acquia Site Factory, building standardized templates for Centarahotelsresorts.com on which marketing team members could create and customize their own B2C content pages. This allows them to easily manage multiple customized sites in a secure transactional environment, while still allowing for decentralized content management — all optimized for mobile. The solution included content delivery network (CDN) caching to improve website loading speed for all regions.
Compared to a year ago, Centara has seen its conversion rates soar by almost 100% year-on-year in Q3 2020 and its pageviews per session increased by 25%. Overall bookings and room nights booked grew by 100% and 40% year-on-year respectively.