BIZ-NET just launched a new division of its BIZ-NET Travel section called Luxury City Guides, a family of websites offering luxury accommodations in major metropolitan areas for the distinguished traveler. The Luxury City Guide websites’ primary focus is on 5 and 4 star luxury hotels, as well as other useful destination information such as public transportation, luxury shopping destinations, fine dining, and activities and tours.
Currently BIZ-NET has freestanding City Guides for Boston, Chicago, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle, each offering anywhere from 30-50 4 and 5 start hotels. Each city’s site actively promotes a handful of these hotels, showcasing 3-5 featured hotels in their own box on the city’s homepage.
Boston’s website, BostonLuxuryHotelsGuide.Net, features The Four Seasons, The Mandarin Oriental, The Langham, and The Ritz-Carlton on their homepage, as well as a map-driven hotel search, a separate list of the highest rated Boston hotels, and a brief description of the city, titled, “Boston: Beantown and the Cradle of Liberty.”
The site itself, or Boston’s at least, appears to be a bit amateur at first glance, with a cheesy “Boston Luxury Hotels” logo and green-and-gold color scheme, however, the information seems to be valid and the recommendations sound…
Across the main navigation bar at the top of the page are 5 buttons; Luxury Hotels, Event Tickets, Activities and Tours, Rental Cars, and Contact Us. My initial evaluation of the site as a bit amateur held true as I attempted to click the Event Tickets button only to be continually redirected to the same page that the Luxury Hotels button took me. Both buttons bring you to a fairly standard hotel search with a list of hotels, various ways to organize them, links to maps, ratings, and the option to compare hotels
The Activities and Tours page was quite nice, with separate tabs for Attractions, Activities and Tours, Outdoors, Dining, and Other Services, and a progress bar at the top that moves you along from Search, to Select, to Review, to Reserve, and finally to Confirm. Under each tab lies a list of attractions, with a clearly marked price, a nice big blue “Order Now” button, and a short, one-sentence description of the product or service, many offering online specials. However, as I probed the tabs further and discovered that the site only offered one selection under the Dining tab and it was The Hard Rock Café, I knew that either the site is still very new and unfinished, or yes, this is an amateur attempt at a website indeed.
Browsing further, the Rental Cars tab seemed OK, as the site has a plethora of car-rental partners including Avis, Budget, Hertz, and Enterprise, however I didn’t give this tab a full exploration. Finally, I came upon the Contact Us section, which actually helped to change my opinion on the site. The Contact Us button brings you to a page where they clearly lay out their purpose:
“Boston, MA offers a wide range of luxury hotel accommodations. To assist you in selecting the property appropriate to your needs the lodging operators of Boston MA have worked in cooperation with BostonLuxuryHotelsGuide.net to create a complete and up-to-date directory of all your premium lodging choices,
As well as this little bit on hotel participation:
“Boston Luxury Hotel operators have provided BostonLuxuryHotelsGuide.net with property descriptions, photographs, and direct reservation links to enable a seamless booking process. They have done this to enable you to book directly through BostonLuxuryHotelsGuide.net. Some properties do not participate in BostonLuxuryHotelsGuide.net and as a result are not included in our Boston Luxury Hotel Guide, and we cannot comment on them as a trusted lodging resource.”
The Contact Us page also offers legitimate contact information, but it is the purpose and participation paragraphs that make me respect this attempt at a new website. Transparency is the name of the game in business these days, and detailing how your company works in a public space that can be easily accessed is a great way to earn credibility right off the bat.
Overall, I thought that BIZ-NET’s new Luxury City Guides websites are a good start to a good idea. However, a brief exploration of the Boston website showed me that these websites are still very new, fairly amateurish, and could use a few tweaks. If you have used any of these sites, please leave us a comment and let us know how your experience was.