jueves, 31 de octubre de 2013

Building Cars Out of Batteries Isn’t as Crazy as It Sounds

The high cost and limited range of electric vehicles can make them a tough sell, and their costliest and most limiting component are their batteries.

But batteries also open up new design possibilities because they can be shaped in more ways than gasoline tanks and because they can be made of load-bearing materials. If their chemistries can be made safer, batteries could replace conventional door panels and other body parts, potentially making a vehicle significantly lighter, more spacious and cheaper. This could go some way toward helping electric cars compete with gas-powered ones.

Tesla Motors and Volvo have demonstrated early versions of the general approach by building battery packs that can replace some of the structural material in a conventional car. Dozens of other research groups and companies are taking further steps to make batteries that replace existing body parts, such as body panels and frames.

The ability to use batteries as structural materials is currently limited by the use of flammable electrolytes, but researchers are developing safer chemistries that could be used more widely. The approach also raises several practical questions: can the energy-storing body panels be engineered so that even if they're dented, the car will still work? And how expensive will bodywork be? However, automakers could turn to the approach under pressure to sell more electric vehicles and hybrids to meet stringent future fuel economy standards.

Batteries are the single most expensive item in electric cars, so making them cheaper would make electric vehicles cheaper too. But even without significant breakthroughs, new battery designs could make a car lighter.

One example is the way Tesla has designed the battery for the Model S. The metal casing that protects the battery also serves to make the car frame more rigid, reducing the overall amount of metal needed.

This month, Volvo demonstrated another approach using lithium-ion batteries, which are made of thin films of material that are rolled or folded up to form a battery cell. Researchers at the Lulea University of Technology in Sweden in collaboration with Volvo sandwiched these films between sheets of carbon-fiber composite. The resulting structure was used to replace plastic body parts and a small conventional battery on a hybrid version of the Volvo S80. (The car is a "stop-start" hybrid that uses a battery to make it possible to turn off the engine whenever the car isn't moving.)

The U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy is spending $37 million on projects seeking to use batteries as structural materials. (The program is called RANGE, which stands for Robust, Affordable, Next-Generation Energy Storage Systems). In two ARPA-E projects, researchers are figuring out ways to design battery packs to absorb energy in a crash to replace materials now used to protect passengers. For example, rather than packaging battery cells into a solid block, the cells could be allowed to move past each other in an accident, dissipating energy as they do.

Most of the approaches being explored so far still use conventional battery cells — the parts of the pack that actually store energy. If safer battery cells can be made, then this would provide even more flexibility in how a car can be designed. You wouldn't need to enclose them in protective cases or regulate their temperature to prevent battery fires.

"When you're not obsessed with protecting batteries, you can be a lot more creative. You're not limited to the architecture of conventional cars," says Ping Liu, who manages and helped conceive of ARPA-E's RANGE project.

To this end, several researchers are developing new chemistries that don't use flammable electrodes, so the batteries could be safely used as door panels. They're considering replacing volatile electrolytes with less-flammable polymers, water-based materials and ceramics. Once they have a safer electrolyte, the researchers will look for ways to use the battery electrodes in a cell to bear loads.

Volvo has an experimental version of this approach that uses carbon fibers in composite materials to store and conduct electricity but also to strengthen the composites. The device was formed in the shape of a trunk lid. But it could only produce enough electricity to light up some LEDs, so it couldn't replace the battery in an electric car or a hybrid. A newer version being developed at Imperial College in London replaces the epoxy that ordinarily holds together carbon fibers in a composite with a blend of stiff materials and ionic liquids that can conduct charged molecules. This forms a type of supercapacitor that could store enough energy to be used in place of a battery in a stop-start hybrid.

For electric cars and hybrids with larger batteries, supercapacitors don't store enough energy. So to provide enough driving range, some researchers are developing lithium-ion batteries that use carbon fibers for one electrode, but use conventional lithium-ion materials for the opposite one. Others have developed a nonvolatile polymer electrolyte to replace conventional, flammable ones. The resulting material will make it possible to "do two jobs with one thing," says Leif Asp, a professor at Lulea University. Several ARPA-E projects are taking this kind of approach.

These new electrolytes and load-bearing battery cells are likely more than a decade away from being useful in cars, however. It will be difficult to ensure that the battery stores large amounts of energy and can also be strong enough as a structural component.

Asp says the first applications could be in portable electronics, where load-bearing batteries could replace conventional plastic cases. But if car components can one day be made out of such materials, then batteries could finally go from a limiting factor to a selling point.

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

Image: Flickr, Asier Llaguno

This article originally published at MIT Technology Review here

How Do NBA Superstars Stack Up on Social Media? You Decide

The NBA season tips off tonight, with a handful of marquee teams taking to the court, beginning a journey they hope will culminate in a championship come June.

Over the past few years, social media has become an increasingly prominent element of sports fandom, and high-profile athletes are now expected to have a strong presence on major social media outlets.

The NBA is no exception to this trend.

In anticipation of the 2013-14 season, we looked into which NBA players have the biggest presence on social media, using Twitter followers, Facebook Likes, and Instagram followers. Here are the 10 most popular NBA players according to our findings:

The results are largely unsurprising, with all members of Miami's "Big Three" and three Los Angeles-based superstars in Chris Paul, Kobe Bryant, and Pau Gasol finding themselves on the list. We were a bit surprised to find that no player from the San Antonio Spurs, who were seconds away from winning the title last season, cracked the top 10, but that may be due to the team's smaller media market.

While all 10 social media titans are superstars in their own right, there can only be five starters on our First Team All-Social Media roster. With two players vying for each position, we'll need your votes to decide our starting five.

Let's examine the positional battles one-by-one.

Point Guard: Derrick Rose vs. Chris Paul

The Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose will be making his return from an ACL injury that wiped out his season last year and effectively knocked the Bulls out of title contention. However, all reports out of the preseason say that Rose looks healthy and will look to add another MVP trophy to the one he already has from 2011.

However, Chris Paul is coming off a strong season with the L.A. Clippers, who are well-known for their high-flying game and will look to make some noise in the Western Conference this year. While Paul has yet to win an MVP, he made the All-NBA First Team last season and boosted his off-court fame thanks to State Farm's popular Cliff Paul ad campaign.

Rose has higher overall numbers, but Paul has the stronger Twitter presence. Who deserves to make first team?

Shooting Guard: Dwyane Wade vs. Kobe Bryant

Miami's Dwyane Wade has won 3 NBA Championships and will look to take home a fourth this year as an integral member of Miami's "Big Three." He took home a Finals MVP in 2006, and, as this recent Twitter feud with Kevin Durant indicates, he's certainly not bashful about his success on social media.

Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers boasts an impressive resume: 5 NBA titles, 2 Finals MVPs, and a regular-season MVP. While a season-ending achilles injury from last season will leave Kobe sidelined to start the season, it also spawned this epic Facebook rant, which could help explain why Kobe's Facebook page has significantly more Likes than any other player's.

Which accomplished veteran deserves the starting spot more?

Small Forward: LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant

Miami's LeBron James is universally considered the best player in basketball right now, and with 4 MVPs and 2 championships to his name, it's difficult to argue otherwise. As a result, "King James" boasts the most impressive social media following out of all current NBA players, with over 10 million Twitter followers and over 15 million Facebook Likes. However, some fans still harbor resentment toward LeBron for his "Decision" to leave Cleveland.

If anybody is going to challenge LeBron for a spot in our starting five, Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant is the man for the job. Durant has made the All-NBA First Team for the past 4 seasons and led the league in scoring from 2010-2012. While Durant often finds himself in LeBron's shadow, his Twitter feud with Wade shows he's not scared of the Heat, and his recent ad campaign with Nike makes it clear that he's done playing nice.

Is this the year of Durant, or will LeBron's reign continue?

Power Forward: Carmelo Anthony vs. Pau Gasol

The New York Knicks' Carmelo Anthony led the league in scoring last year and has been the face of the Knicks franchise since 2011. Carmelo also gained some international buzz when he scored a Team USA-record 37 points against Nigeria during the 2012 Olympics. He looks to lead the Knicks to another strong season this year.

While the Lakers' Pau Gasol has always given the spotlight in Los Angeles to Kobe Bryant, he has two things Carmelo Anthony does not: an NBA Championship (two, in fact) and international fame. Gasol was born in Barcelona and started his basketball career with FC Barcelona. Gasol moved to the NBA in 2001, but he is still hugely popular in Spain, and he led a 2012 Spanish Olympic Team that almost stole the gold medal from heavily-favored Team USA.

'Melo has the clear advantage on Twitter, but Pau's Facebook page has significantly more Likes. Who deserves the starting spot?

Center: Chris Bosh vs. Dwight Howard

While Chris Bosh is often regarded as the third wheel of Miami's "Big 3," he's won 2 NBA championships and made the last 8 All-Star games. Bosh may not own the spotlight in Miami, but he has a strong social media presence and is known for being somewhat of a goofball. He also boosted his Internet cred with his cameo on Parks and Recreation this season.

The Houston Rockets' Dwight Howard has yet to win an NBA Championship, but he has made the past 7 All-Star games and has made the All-NBA First Team for the past 5 years. Howard's season with the Lakers last year brought him plenty of media attention, but it wasn't all positive. The self-proclaimed "Superman" looks to make a fresh start and a title run this year on a strong Houston team.

Bosh has a strong Instagram following, but Howard has a significant advantage on Twitter and Facebook. Which rim protector do you prefer?

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

Mashable composite: Images via Flickr, Keith Allison

Hawksmoor and the future of search for small business

Hawksmoor restaurant

It's a great time to be a big brand. They have nothing to worry about when it comes to search, and have it all: top page ranks, multiple links.

Google is even currently testing overlarge banner ads for big companies in its search results. Big brands will be fine.

It seems that Google is doing more and more to support big brands, filtering out the flotsam and jetsom of the internet and providing users with 'trusted' big name brands they recognised, pushing the more dubious websites further down its SERPS.

But what about the little guy? The little guy who makes a great product or provides a quality service. How can this valuable but tiny start-up company possibly hope to compete against the giants of commerce?

At Searchlove yesterday, Distilled's co-founder and CMO Will Critchlow used the London based restaurant chain Hawksmoor as an example of a successful local business to provide his own insight and guidance on how your small business can market itself in the face of staggering adversity.

Your small business has many advantages over the big brands…

  • Agility. Your business is small, you can do things off the cuff without having to get multiple directors to sign-off on an experimental piece of marketing or trial of a new social media channel.
  • Passion for your own product. You wouldn't be doing this if you didn't have a huge passion and belief in your own product. You're the heart and soul of your company, so put that at the centre.

    How many middle-managers working at Coca-Cola right now are thinking to themselves 'I bloody love cola'. 

  • Your team. It's highly likely that as a small business your team consists of you and your friends, or you and your family, or you and some colleagues who have become as close as friends or family.

    These people aren't stored away in another building with a different mindset to yours. They are multi-tasking, multi-disciplined advocates who are as heavily invested (financially, emotionally or both) as you are. Use this close-knit association to do great things.


Hawksmoor's founder Will Beckett went from opening a small restaurant in Shoreditch in 2003 to now running the fifth best company to work for, according to the Sunday Times.

Only a decade later, there are currently five restaurants to the Hawksmoor name.

The important detail here for your small business, in terms of providing hope for your digital marketing effort, is how Hawksmoor appears on Google.

Search for 'steak restaurant' and this is what you see: 

Hawksmoor is right at the top. There aren't even any paid links above it. 

Now go local and earch for 'steak restaurant London':

There's paid links at the top of the screen, and Hawksmoor is second in the organic listings underneath Time Out.

However, if you click on the Time Out link, Top 10 London steak restaurants, look what's at the top of that page…

Be the best at what you do

One key factor in Hawksmoor's success, that it got right from the very beginning, is that its excellent at what it does. Hawksmoor cooks steaks and makes cocktails extraordinarily well. 

Start-ups fail because they are not good at what they do. It's a simple fact, especially in the restaurant trade which has more reliance on word of mouth than most businesses.

If someone has a good meal they'll tell a few close friends, if someone has a bad meal or terrible service, they'll tell everyone.

Take the online offline, and vice-versa

Offer your customers an experience that can't be replicated online. Offer your online followers an experience that can't be replicated offline.

Will Beckett maintains that the fine dining experience is one of the few businesses or services that Google can't replicate online. Increasingly anything information based can be read on Google's own SERP without even the need to click through to a website.

If you want a delicious steak in a good looking restaurant with great service, Google will never be able to do that for you. Well, not without a massive overhaul of its business strategy at least.

Hawksmoor published a book. A giant, lovingly crafted hardback that can be purchased in the restaurant. This is impossible to replicate digitally with the same quality and weight. This is Hawksmoor's 'big content'.

Hawksmoor invites bloggers to come have a steak (we'd love to, thanks;)). By using the very thing that makes you noteworthy in the offline world, you can easily capture online attention.

Whenever Hawksmoor open a new restaurant, it sends an employee to go round every local business and invites them over for a steak, or to specific events.

Making these local links will build a strong community and good base of support, and is also key in spreading positive word of mouth.

Make it personal

Run your own Twitter page. Will Beckett still runs Hawksmoor's Twitter account, which is essentially an effective customer service channel for it. Hawksmoor doesn't pay for expensive tools to measure engagement, it just listens to people and chats to them.

Once diners who have booked through Hawksmoor's online system have left the restaurant, they receive an email direct from Will Beckett that asks them if they enjoyed the experience and if anything could be improved. The responses go directly back to the source.

Allow constant access to people, either through social media or with live chat on your own website. The benefits of live chat are explained here. Chances are that the person using your chat function is a little confused about something on your website.

Engage with them directly right there and then, and they'll probably spend their money with you.

Invest in high quality photography

You can't replicate taste online, but this is the nearest thing to it…


Show off your product in the best possible way online.

Create evergreen content

Hawksmoor created this video that sits on its homepage.

It was expensive to make, being as it's animated, professionally shot and edited, it also hasn't had a lot of likes, shares or tweets.

What it achieves however is to provide a huge talking point for the majority of customers who talk to Will Beckett and the other Hawksmoor employees. It will sit on the website forever and always pay for itself in terms of interest. 

Your business either has time or money

If you're a start-up without money, you will definitely have time. Use that time to create something amazing, memorable and completely different to set yourself apart from the pack.

You have the gift of time in which to forge these new ideas, so use it early while you have lots of it.

For more information on how to succeed online, check out or essential small business website checklist.

'Walking Dead' Star Saves Us All From 'World War Z'

Sometimes the only way to fix a bad movie is to travel back through time and make sure it's never made.

How It Should Have Ended normally fixes film's less than satisfying conclusions, but when tackling World War Z they enlisted the help of The Walking Dead's Rick to make sure Brad Pitt wouldn't get to fight a single zombie.

Thankfully to make up for the lack of action coming from this summer's worst zombie movie the characters of better examples of undead cinema, like Shaun from Shaun of the Dead and Tallahassee from Zombieland come to see the unnecessary World War Z stars off.

Image: Youtube, HISHEdotcom

Three ways to approach advanced attribution

The marketing potential of Advanced Attribution is huge, and many companies struggle to devise a strategy that's suitable for them.

Everyone is talking about it, yet marketers find themselves confused, stuck, overwhelmed by the many options, model types, and data sets.

Although adoption is gaining momentum, with brands allocating more resources and budget to attribution modeling, only 26% of companies use advanced attribution that goes beyond last-click according to an Econsultancy Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing.

This is truly alarming, considering that companies spend sums of up to and more than £5m annually to drive customer acquisition in online marketing alone. This is huge investment that is not necessarily ROI proven.

So, how can you use the platform to turn data into insight and action?

Here are three ways marketers can approach it, without becoming stuck.

What is advanced attribution?

Advanced attribution will change the way we approach digital marketing forever. Is not a trend, it's not a fad, it's here to stay whether you chose to change and implement it or not. The longer you take the faster your competitors would  take advantage.

Advanced attribution is simply shifting the way you measure your marketing valuation. This means going from last click where 100% of the valuation for credit, ROI and revenue is attributed to the last marketing channel before a purchase, to valuating all of the marketing channels in a customer journey.

What this means is that you are giving proper credit to your complete marketing mix, instead of only one channel. Makes sense right? Why wouldn't you.

Why advanced attribution?

Let's start off with the name. The industry calls it 'advanced' attribution because the current last click model you have been using for years is also an attributed model, it's just the most simplistic version.

When you hear advanced attribution you automatically know that the value is being attributed across the whole marketing mix. The reason why this is so important is to basically prove 100% of your marketing spends in terms of ROI across all your channels, not just one.

Not knowing which 50% of your marketing works and which doesn't is no longer acceptable. Some of the benefits of advanced attribution are:

  • It helps you understand the value of marketing activities that build demand at the top of the funnel. For example, can provide guidance on which keywords to bid on during a marketing campaign, those keywords you had no idea your customer started their search with, because you don't even bid on them.
  • It's useful in discovering the true value of affiliate referrals and determining payments, no more duplicate payments. Who still pays double now a days?
  • It helps marketers find the optimal frequency of ad serving such as for display ads, meaning you don't spam and scare your prospects by flooding them with your ads. 

The challenges: don't become stuck here

Recently I was sitting in an Econsultancy attribution roundtable and learned from different marketers and agencies how confused the topic gets them.

These are the three things that will take the confusion away and make it simpler:

1. The  model: go for algorithmic

There are several ways of measuring advanced attribution. Essentially these divide themselves in two. First, Rules based models. Second, Algorithmic statistical models.

Please don't become stuck here, make your decisions and move forward. If it's algorithmic what you choose, you would be 110% better off than using your current last click model.

Rules based models are exactly what it says in the tin. You put rules based on the position of where the marketing channels are in your customer journey. For example, if you have a customer journey that looks like this:

Paid Sarch>Display Ad>Email> Conversion

Under a rules based model, you say, whatever comes first will get x% that's assigned by a rule you make. This means that paid search will get the same percentage every time is first, as so very other marketing channel that is first. You don't want rules based models.

Why? Because they become a self-fulfilling theory. Your marketing will work as per the rules you assign, not very smart.

Algorithmic Statistical models are what you want to get. There is a plethora of different models and how they work. Don't get stuck here. Just make sure you go for this option.

What's important to know here is that it's science and it's data based. It's science because it's a mathematical algorithmic statistical model. Not to worry, it just means there's maths instead of rules doing your calculations for valuating every marketing channel.

It's data based, because it's based in your own customers data. This means it looks at your brand's past customer journeys and how each channel interacts differently in getting you a conversion.

For example, if you have a customer journey that looks like this:

Paid Search>Display Ad>Email> Conversion

And another customer journey that looks like this:

Paid Search>Social>Display Ad>Email> Conversion

The first channel, which in this case is paid search, will vary significantly in its valuation. Even though each example starts with Paid Search, the customer journey is different, therefore the credit for the first channel is also different.

2. It's not about data, it's about what to do with it

Basically, the biggest internal organizational challenges a company has once advanced attribution has been implemented is to take decisions on the data it gives you. This basically means driving the insight. Tell me what to do and how to do it?

Boom! We have attribution implemented, all channels are integrated. We have spend, cost, revenue data, and ROI figures for every digital channel. We even integrated some offline channels like call centre data and point of purchase.

Amazing, we finally have one single source of truth. After this implementation you got  access to 354 reports. I believe data must be turned into insight, and so does Econsultancy.  

What does this mean? It simply means, tell me what to do and where to take action. It's awesome that we now have 354 reports to look at data and customer journeys and all the amazing things advanced attribution gives me insight into.

So what? How do I really get the action I need to be a source of customer, competitive and marketing advantage?

Look for platforms that have gone a step beyond, and include a scenario planning capability that allows you to predict future behaviour which is fundamental to creating strong customer lifetime value models and optimising marketing effectiveness.

And as Econsultancy stated in the Marketing Manifesto, digital channels provide new and valuable sources of data and customer insight that can be acted upon in real time.

This is what you really need, besides the 354 reports, you really need to be told what to do with the data. Where to spend your money? how to better forecast to get £1M in revenue, or how to drive 10k conversions, or where to spend the additional £150k for the Christmas campaign.

If you do not see this feature in your platform, then you don't have a modern platform in front of you.

3. Change management: this must come from the top down

Advanced attribution will impact the entire marketing organisation.  

The current challenge, according to Jim Sterne, founder of eMetrics Summit & Digital Analytics Association, is that too many large organizations are using incentive structures that foster (dis)integrated digital marketing by issuing bonuses to individual teams based on the performance of the marketing channels they are responsible for.  

This we all know. Now think about it, if you are a channel manager driving attribution, you will have a channel conflict with every other channel manager.

Because each team (search, social, email, display, affiliates etc.) must prove their own channel's performance for compensation, they're shoved into internal competition and left to seek metrics and attribution models favourable to their particular channel.

This creates both operational and data silos. This means that for advanced attribution to be successful and for channel managers to optimize, forecast and use actionable data to drive better ROI, the direction needs to come from the CMO, Marketing Director, or whoever owns the budget across all marketing channels.

Adoption of attribution modeling is accelerating because digital media keeps growing new channels, making it harder for marketers to understand what drives ad performance, meaning whatever your product or service, there's a huge potential to better understand the other 50% of how your marketing works.

Digital marketers must step up and start things moving with advanced attribution. The longer you take, the faster your competitors will take advantage.

Kanye, Lindsay Lohan Make Confessions in Touching Music Video

Stars have risen, fallen, loved and lost in Los Angeles. A new video from Thirty Seconds to Mars serves as a confessional for some of those celebrities.

The music video for "City of Angels" features a lineup of stars spilling their feelings — both good and bad — about the city that made them.

The A-list cameos come from Kanye West, Lindsay Lohan, Olivia Wilde, James Franco, Juliette Lewis, Ashley Olsen, Lily Collins, Selena Gomez, Shaun White and Corey Feldman. The band's frontman, Jared Leto also offers his thoughts, as do impersonators of Marilyn Monroe, Superman and Michael Jackson.

"This city took my mother, but this city also gave me my child," Kanye West explains. "The city of angels is my paradox. My nightmares are my dreams."

Lindsay Lohan also speaks candidly about her fame and career: "I've disappointed myself the most in my life. To not be like, 'Wake the f*ck up, look what you have. This is what you've wanted.'"

"The city of Angels is where I was able to find myself again," she adds.

Child star Corey Feldman discusses how he started working at age 3 and his family relied on him to pay the bills. "I've been to the top, and I've been to the bottom more times than most people ride in an elevator," he says.

Clocking in at 11 minutes, the piece is more short film than music video. Between Angelenos' gushing tales of the city, the Thirty Seconds to Mars trio jams out on a hill overlooking the city.

"City of Angels" is from the band's Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams.

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

Homepage Image: YouTube, 30SecondsToMarsVEVO

Does Hyatt provide a five star digital experience?

Hyatt releases its Q3 results today, so I thought I'd pre-empt the webcast and take a look at the company's digital efforts.

Is its digital marketing as good as the hotels? And how do its efforts compare to some big name competition?

It turns out Hyatt is fairly solid, online. I didn't get mad trying to use the website, and everything was easy to find, with a good mobile presence.

To take it to the next level, Hyatt would have to redesign its website to match the modern design of RoomKey or Top10.com.

It would also be great to see more rich content on the Hyatt website, rather than simply its social channels. This would allow more of the atmosphere of the hotels and the ethos of the brand to suffuse the browsing and booking process.

Let's have a look at the brand's paid, owned and earned digital content.

Desktop site

From the homepage, clicking the fairly non-descript 'What's on your mind?' box leads to a nice little microsite (experiences.hyatt.com) built around the traveller experience.

There's some good stuff in here.

  • An enormous Twitter plug-in allowing users to tweet their ideal experiences #InAHyattWorld. This is followed by a selection of social activity.
  • One can scroll for a while, past large pictures of rooms, meals and additional services, all of which lay out a little of the Hyatt philosophy.
  • If you reach the bottom of this page, you're invited to email in your comments.
  • There's a menu at the top of the page, which will allow you to avoid scrolling, and means it's easier to find each section.
  • There are also links to social networks, the booking engine and the Hyatt blog.
  • The Hyatt blog is fairly anodyne, but provides visually enjoyable content that is then used across social networks.

Back within the main Hyatt website, there's a slightly dated feel, but crucially it's very easy to use and seems to conform to usability standards.

The screenshot of the 'about' page below shows how information is at hand and navigation doesn't pose any problems.

Overall, I'd like to see more rich content.

For example, some of Hyatt's fairly polished videos, which can be seen on YouTube.

I imagine there's a fair amount of tech work needed to try to get social content and bigger text included in the site, likely a site redesign, so it makes sense to have created microsites if it's proving hard to change something that works well.

In the long run, the site will need a revamp, it's just a question of when. Comparing it to a rival brand such as Hilton or Marriott it doesn't look as good, even if Hilton itself isn't quite bang up to date.


In fact, many of the updates, aesthetically, that could be made to bring Hyatt up to date, are seen here in RoomKey. Of course, Hyatt is one of the brands that founded RoomKey, so it has the experience.

Moving towards this kind of interface, or something like Top10.com is surely the next step.

Mobile site

The mobile site is much like the desktop site in its sophistication. It's not the slickest or most beautiful I've used, it's not full of extra content and engaging UX, but it works.

Bear in mind that this isn't criticism. It's fairly refreshing that it works, but could probably do with an update, perhaps when the brand decides to revamp the entire site further down the line.


Mobile app

The mobile app, however, is much nicer, as you'd expect. It includes solid and easy to use functionality, providing offers and a booking engine. There's also good contact information and rewards sections.

Here are some screen grabs:



Social media


Econsultancy covered @HyattConcierge way back in 2009.

At the time there were some reservations about how workable the platform was for one-to-one communication and a concierge service.

Whilst it's undoubtedly more appropriate to call a concierge if you require a quick response, in many situations Twitter is handy, especially before and after a stay. Just check out the replies from the account.

In fact, I came across a tweet from Jeremiah Oywang when I checked it out, as well as lots of examples of good service, pictured below.

There are also some Hotel specific Twitter accounts such as Hawaii's lovely Grand Hyatt, which do a good job, both pushing their own entertainment, and advertising their services.

Note the link to a Tumblr here, showing Hyatt is at home on multiple social networks, and is confident allowing its hotels to take control of marketing.

Google Plus 

Quite a visual account; great imagery and a bold mix of competitions, videos, photos and strong use of hashtags. The account doesn't overdo the number of posts, with around five every week.

This plus page has been up since June 2012, and the style of content has been consistent – destinations ideas, brand achievements, green credentials, hotel recipes etc. Here's a great example.

Hyatt is given a real boost in the SERPs with its Google Plus enabled card in the sidebar, as shown below.



Upon checking out the Hyatt Facebook page, I realised the updates to G+ and Facebook are pretty much the same. I doubt this will cause any problems, as G+ is still finding its place, and users won't be engaging with Hyatt on multiple social networks too often. 

The account has 295k likes and is solid but unspectacular – I'm not sure why content comes across a lot cleaner on G+, perhaps it's the bigger post sizes. 

The Facebook pages are used in minimally, with some healthy recipes on offer, and a competition to win a Hyatt Gold Passport. This competition looks nice with a jazzy 'guerrila' video advert embedded on the page and a nice hashtag.

Unfortunately, the page doesn't effectively explain what you could win, and how. A bit of a shame it's not clearer.



There's some good content here and some decent viewing figures, sometimes in the hundreds of thousands (though not many followers – 3k).

As previously stated, this content needs to be used on website real estate, not simply pushed socially.


Interestingly, though they seem to have a mix of PPC ad copy, healthy eating is one line of attack, as you can see below.

This ties in nicely with their philosophy of sustainable food with plenty of healthy options. The chain has linked up with  Jamie Oliver and others.

I haven't seen too much on their ads across the web, although last year they started some mobile advertising in travel hotspots.

The aim was to offer travellers free wifi in exchange for clicking an ad and watching a short video on something about Hyatt.

Hyatt is also using social media to understand how to target its advertising, with the widely covered news earlier this year that it pulled some of a content marketing campaign aimed at business women.

The campaign was to have piggy backed on the release of Sheryl Sandberg's book. Social sentiment analysis and predictive analytics revealed that although women book 87% of travel, Hyatt didn't know if they wanted to be targeted in this way – with the slogan of 'women get it all'.

Other websites

There's a range of sites, such as Hyatt at Home, that sells all the linen, toiletries, furniture etc from the hotels. 

Hyatt Development is a nice site that's build with a more modern aesthetic, albeit not an ecommerce site (obviously). It showcases the architecture business that Hyatt runs, with its knowledge of throwing up hotels.

There's also a fairly dated registry site for those wanting to get hitched, and a site for the residential Hyatt properties.

There's a Hyatt Food microsite – the home page looks good, but it's a fairly small site, with a few pages of information, mainly consisting of text. However, its presence does indicate a commitment to food, which is one of the important parts of a hotel stay, for many.

There's also the unfortunate Hyatt Hurts, not a part of Hyatt, which doesn't rank particularly well but ranked page one when I searched for 'Hyatt campaigns'.

Reservations engine

Back on the main site, let's take a look at the reservations process.

The pop out 'special rates' and 'Rooms and guests' box need to be closed once opened, and the clickable areas, both to pop-out and to close, are small. This means it's a bit more finicky than it could be.

Once you've searched, there's a prominent phone number for assistance, and a rather clunky map that just about does the job of showing you where the hotels are located.

The relevant hotels are listed, and can be filtered as standard: price, distance etc

Once a hotel is selected, the product page is nice. It could definitely look a bit slicker, but all the information is there, and there's a minimum number of pages to click through.

Once I've selected a room, there's a form for my guest and payment details all on the same page, and then I'm done.


So, it turns out Hyatt is fairly staid.

Do I think its digital presence marks Hyatt out from competitors? No. But, most importantly in a sector such as travel, the website suitably enables travellers, is easy to use and provides relevant information.

At no point in interacting with the brand online did I want to punch something out of frustration. Maybe for travel that's the definition of success, for now. As to how Hyatt will further use digital content, other than photographs, to push engagement, that's up to them.

Highlights include a Twitter concierge service, and microsites that look more pleasing than Hyatt.com.

Once Hyatt combines its solid experience of a usable booking site, with the modern feel of RoomKey, and its low-key but well-executed social media presence, it'll be closer to the front.