All posts by: Jessica

A Boutique Hotel CheckMate’s Big Brand Mobile Check-in Experience

CheckMate App

The Pfister Hotel is a Milwaukee icon, a pinnacle of luxury and hospitality, both locally and with our guests throughout the world. The hotel is a cornerstone of our corporation and as an information technology team we strive to provide the hotel with the same caliber of service they provide their guests. Last month we assisted the property in a rollout of a new mobile application, called CheckMate, that allows their guests to check-in on a mobile device and book room or amenity upgrades.

The Best for Our Best

We decided on a soft rollout of the application by providing access to the program to our loyalty and frequent guests initially, with the option to rollout the program to all of our guests once we were comfortable from an operations standpoint to handle the demand that would come with the entirety of our guests accessing the upgrades and check-in functionality. Another key component of this was incorporating our inventory reporting with the application so we could ensure that upgrades would only be booked that were available and so we could control upgrade rates based on the availability on any given night.

The application is allowing us to better serve our guests like never before. For example, if Mr. Smith is booked to stay at The Pfister Hotel this weekend with a check-in on Friday the following could occur:

  1. Mr. Smith receives an email asking him if he would like to check-in on his mobile device one day ahead of time
  2. Mr. Smith is thrilled because he will be in a hurry when he arrives and cannot afford to waste any time during check-in
  3. Mr. Smith accesses the application for his check-in process and is offered an option to upgrade his room
  4. Mr. Smith purchases an upgraded room and selects that he would like to add a club access amenity
  5. Mr. Smith enters a note that he prefers hypoallergenic sheets in his room
  6. Mr. Smith enters his estimated arrival time in the application
  7. Mr. Smith receives a notification upon landing in Milwaukee that his room is ready and waiting for him
  8. Desk agent greets Mr. Smith by name and offers him his room key upon his arrival
  9. Mr. Smith arrives in his upgraded room, enjoys hors d’ oeuvres in the Pfister Club and slumbers soundly in his allergen-free sheets
  10. Having low lunch reservations the next day, a notification is pushed to his device, urging Mr. Smith to enjoy lunch on property, with a possible promotion
  11. Mr. Smith dines at the Mason Street Grill and enjoys it immensely, vowing to return
  12. After enjoying a delightful stay in Milwaukee, Mr. Smith receives a special survey regarding his experience checking in on the mobile application

So … That is How it Works, But Does it Work?

During our limited soft launch that included only loyalty and frequent guests we saw a roughly 20% online check-in rate. (We expect that this rate should increase when the service is offered to all of our guests.) 24% of guests who checked-in using the application chose to upgrade their room when offered, therefore generating an increase in revenue. Guest feedback to the process has been 100% positive.



Percentages are in respect to the first week and half of use offered to loyalty and frequent guests at The Pfister Hotel. Learn more about CheckMate.

Marcus Hotels & Resorts Receives Prestigious Interactive Media Award


Grand Geneva Resort & Spa website and Kil@Wat website recognized in the 12th Annual Horizon Interactive Awards Competition

Milwaukee, Wis., May 2, 2014. . . . . Marcus® Hotels & Resorts, a division of The Marcus Corporation (NYSE: MCS), today announced that it won two web design awards from the Horizon Interactive Awards, a leading international interactive media awards competition that recognizes the year’s “best of the best” in interactive media production.

The Grand Geneva Resort & Spa website,, won a gold award in the travel and tourism category and the InterContinental Milwaukee’s premier restaurant, Kil@Wat, won a bronze award for its website,, in the restaurant and food industry category. Both websites were developed and created by the Marcus Hotels & Resorts development team. Entries were judged on solution creativity and originality; graphic design, appearance and user experience; communication of message; technical merit and effectiveness of solution.


“Our internal development team manages nearly 100 websites for our hotels, resorts, restaurants, spas and loyalty program. These awards recognize their creative talent and outstanding work in providing an exceptional digital user experience for our customers,” said Christine Beuchert, senior director, marketing and ecommerce strategy for Marcus Hotels & Resorts.

“One of the challenges we faced with Kil@Wat’s website was to attract local residents and raise awareness of the restaurant and its location, as the hotel restaurant lacks an easily visible street level entrance. We achieved our goal of drawing locals in to dine, along with hotel guests, by having a responsive design that works on all mobile devices and tablets, and an effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy during the rebuild of the website. As a result of these efforts, we achieved a 44% increase in the percentage of local visitors to the website and achieved a 944% increase in website traffic,” said Jessica McCoy, web project coordinator, Marcus Hotels & Resorts.

The 12th annual international competition saw over 1,600 entries from 24 countries around the world and nearly all 50 states in the U.S. An international panel of judges, consisting of industry professionals with diverse backgrounds, as well as an end-user panel, evaluated categories ranging from online advertising to mobile applications. The 2013 winning entries showcase the industry’s best interactive media solutions including web sites, mobile applications, print media, interactive displays, public exhibits, online advertising, video, email and more.

“The 2013 competition is undoubtedly one of the best showcases of outstanding interactive media in our long competition history,” said Mike Sauce, founder of the Horizon Interactive Awards. “Providing multiple forms of digital media platforms into a single interactive experience continues to be a trend. Entries have pushed the boundaries of traditional thinking in terms of expanded features, blended media, and integration of multiple marketing and technology channels. Winners in this year’s competition highlight the best blend of technology, cutting-edge thinking, outstanding user-experience and overall aesthetics.”

For more information visit the Horizon Interactive Awards online: For the latest news and updates from Marcus Hotels & Resorts, please visit

About the Horizon Interactive Awards
Now in its 12th year, the Horizon Interactive Awards was created to recognize excellence in interactive media production worldwide. Since 2001, the competition has received tens of thousands of entries from countries around the world and nearly all 50 U.S. states. Each year, those entries are narrowed down to the “best of the best” to be recognized and promoted on an international stage for their excellence. For more information, visit

About Marcus Hotels & Resorts
Marcus Hotels & Resorts, a division of The Marcus Corporation (NYSE: MCS), owns and/or manages 18 hotels, resorts and other properties in 10 states. A force in the hospitality industry, Marcus Hotels & Resorts provides expertise in management, development and historic renovations. The company’s portfolio includes a wide variety of properties including city-center meeting hotels, upscale resorts and branded first-class hotels. For more information on the latest news and updates, please visit: and follow the company on Facebook and Twitter (@MarcusHotels).

Bloomington Hilton Improves Google Search Traffic in Just One Month

Search engine optimization SEO concept

We completed a search engine optimization (SEO) audit on the website of the Bloomington Hilton hotel to help our friends at Google (and other great search engines as well) find the site. After we gathered our data we composed a list of suggested SEO revisions and ranked them by priority. The hotel chose to have us implement the first handful of suggestions to start with. It has been one month since our implementation was complete so we compared this last month over the analytics from the same time period of the previous year to see how our changes have effected the website’s SEO performance.

The Locals are All Googly Eyed

Our results showed that the SEO improvements increased the number of site users by 18.79% and the number of sessions by 12.53%. If you are thinking, “Well, the number of users could go up based on any number of factors,” you would be wrong (sorry); the site’s organic Google search traffic is up by 118.23% and of these users the percentage that make up new site visitors is up 139.63%.

So, our users are up and a vast majority are coming to the site organically via Google search, but where are these users coming from, geographically speaking? According to our analytics the hotel’s home state and neighboring states are sending more visitors our way than over the same time period last year. The chart below displays the increase in neighborly visits from Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa. Plus, there are also increases in visitors from states such as North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado and Massachusetts.

What’s Next?

We are going to carry out another review of the analytics in two months to benchmark three months following SEO improvement implementation. One additional metric we have seen is an increase in mobile users up 44.53%. We think Bloomington Hilton is a big contender for a responsive website design when they are ready for a complete site renovation.

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Sweepstakes Apps Grow Social Audience and Reach


Here at Marcus Hotels and Resorts we run our Facebook contests via ShortStack - which we love, as you can read a previous post of our rave review. Over the last year or so, however, additional sweepstakes applications have come into the market that encompass the full spectrum of social sites and more. While we love ShortStack and it offers a ton of functionality beyond sweepstakes, we just can’t get over how great these new applications are for increasing our following across all of our social outlets as well as in our email database.

Here is how the new concept works from the customer’s perspective:

  1. Receives information of sweepstakes (via a Facebook post, tweet, email campaign, etc.)
  2. Clicks through to the sweepstakes application or your website with an embedded widget
  3. Starts entering process with either a Facebook log-in or email address (receives points for entry)
  4. Chooses platforms to for additional entries (receives point for each)
    1. Example: Tweet sweepstakes for additional points
    2. Example: Enroll in email campaigns for additional points
    3. Example: Refer-a-friend for additional points
    4. Example: Follow Instagram account for additional points
  5. Each entrant receives a high chance for winning based on number of points
  6. Host uses the application to randomly select a sweepstakes winner

The nature of this sweepstakes is effective in increasing reach beyond our own social networks as well as increasing our audience within our social networks. For example, an entrant gets additional points for tweeting about the sweepstakes therefore our reach is extended to their followers. Additionally, the entrant is given additional points for following us on Twitter. They have now been added to our audience.

Analytics is available for measuring the success of each campaign and each platform. And, most applications offer a basic free version, some offer a blogger version and most offer a full-paid version that is white label for brands. The graph below compares the costs of several of the applications and what is included with each.

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Giving a Little Something from Home in a Very Green Way


We implemented a digital news program called PressReader at three of our hotels to reduce paper waste and increase options as well as convenience of our guests. The Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, The Platinum Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada and Grand Geneva Resort and Spa in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin are all offering a library of over 2,000 same-day digital newspapers and magazines including the Washington Post, Elle Magazine, Business Traveller, The Globe and Mail and more, all available for guests to download to their devices free of charge.

The application offers several benefits to guests that they simply cannot achieve with a traditional newspaper including:

  • Variety: the application offers local city and state publications as well as guest’s home country publications
  • Translation: the application translates any publication to the guests’ native language
  • Narration: the application reads publication aloud to the guest
  • Convenience: the application allows guests to download publications and save them for later – perfect for catching a flight

We have seen significant success with guests from the United Arab Emirates who are thrilled to receive news from their local papers in Dubai. Additional local papers we have seen our guests accessing include publications from Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, Los Angeles, London, Denver, Vancouver, Boston, Toronto and more. We have also seen guests accessing niche publications such as Good HousekeepingWheels, The Rugby Paper, LA Fashion Weekly, Porthole Cruise Magazine, and Asian Art Newspaper.

The chart below depicts the number of issues downloaded per hotel during the first two months of use by each hotel as well as the top downloaded papers per hotel.

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