The site is built on the company’s new open-source content management system, which will allow Questex to add tools and capabilities to the site on a continual basis. Questex began implementing the CMS last year; HotelWorldNetwork.com is the third site to launch on it.
"What you’re seeing is the first release, which is the beginning of a long roadmap that we will continue to fill out," said Seth Nichols, VP-digital media for Questex. "Our strategy is to go beyond the content and keep thinking of applications, services and tools that make sense to help people get their jobs done."
The two primary audiences for HotelWorldNetwork.com are hotel owners and general managers. "I would say most publishers, in any market, are good at providing information, like industry news, that’s useful in the early phases of the [sales] cycle," Nichols said. "We’re looking to complement that digitally by getting deeper into applications."
One example is the site’s Franchise Fee Calculator, which can help owners compare hotel franchise companies based on the fees they charge. Although this tool is not new, "it is an example of a tool that moves beyond the content and starts to provide things that can help a hotel owner do his or her job over the course of the day," Nichols said.
"We’ve tracked all the things hotel owners do on a daily basis," he said. "What are the steps they go through to identify a location, to choose a franchise, to put together a management team? Then we start to map products against that. We know, for example, that hotel owners need asset management firms, lawyers and real estate developers. One tool we could develop is a searchable database that will help them manage that selection process."
The better a Web site is able to identify and serve an audience’s needs, the better it will be able to "help the marketers influence the buying decision, which is ultimately what we’re trying to do," Nichols added.
The tabs across the top of the page include such terms as design, transactions, brands, technology, operations and sales & marketing. "This is the way hotel general managers and owners look at the market," Nichols said. "Within the left column, lower down the page, you start to see words like magazines, trade shows and e-newsletters. I would argue that’s the publisher's view of the world. What we're trying to do is always keep in mind the audience. This is a subtle thing but it's very important."
Nichols said he’s not sure how long the site will remain in beta, but its official launch "will be within a matter of weeks, not months. We want to make sure everything is working the way we expect it to. We also want to get preliminary feedback and make changes against it."