Let’s be honest–it’s been hard to imagine being a foodie or traveling in the past couple of years.

What isn’t hard to imagine is the strain that travel and leisure brands have been under to continue providing their customers with memorable experiences and adventures while maintaining safety as best as they can. When the swift change to social distancing and remote work occurred, brands and customers alike were suddenly dependent on digital channels to stay connected.

As travel has steadily become possible again and restaurants have reopened their doors, people seem increasingly ready to treat themselves. One renowned hotel brand recognized this and wanted to take the opportunity to reinvent its digital customer experience for dining and restaurants through its website. By using Lucidworks solutions, the brand was able to deliver a more personalized foodie experience to every customer through AI-powered recommendations and enhanced search results. The success of this project would eventually lead to the expansion of the partnership–revamping the brand’s entire search portal beyond dining experiences and helping this brand make its customers’ wanderlust dreams come true.

Stuck In The Old Ways

Before partnering with Lucidworks, the hotel brand’s website ran on an Endeca platform–once a leading search engine that has since been unable to keep up with the digital experience demands of today. The legacy platform was end-of-lifed and had remained update-free for years. As a result, the hotel brand’s search platform was not fit to serve the search capabilities that customers expect. There was zero personalization, properties were sorted strictly by distance, and customer reviews were not mined for sentiment analysis. The biggest hindrance to their digital search experience, according to the hotel, was the inability to understand the user intent behind search queries.

A Half-Hearted Start

Microsoft Bing was an initial starting point for replacing Endeca. Unfortunately, the project went awry and, shortly afterward, the pandemic hit. With the near-immediate shutdown of many travel and leisure activities, the hotel brand was forced into survival mode. By late 2020, people began to peak out from the covers, adapt to the new normal, and gradually consider dining and travel opportunities once more. The hotel brand knew that as travelers began packing their bags again, competition would be ferocious. This was its chance to welcome travelers back with an unforgettable digital experience–something that no brand of any size could take for granted.

Lucidworks Swoops In

The brand initially wanted to expand its offerings around restaurants and dining–an emerging pillar of the hotel industry. In doing so, the first move was to break its restaurant and dining options into a customized search experience. Until then, the brand had only provided lodging in its website search. Noting their customers’ hunger for experiences in addition to accommodations, this was a key step in leveling up the brand’s digital offerings. This would put them on the same playing field as the competition, who relied on experience-driven offerings.

Needing a solution that had flexibility and capability, the hotel brand finally got in touch with Lucidworks. We were excited to share how our AI-powered search solutions could support the ideas the brand had in mind for attracting customers to its homepage and delivering engaging and fulfilling digital experiences fit for adventurous foodies. Lucidworks solutions was able to provide a sophisticated query-intent-understanding, allowing the brand to better deliver its ample restaurant and dining content to customers in a personalized way.

Expanding The Project

With the success of the food and beverage search platform, the brand’s confidence in its partnership with Lucidworks grew. As a result, when the time came for the brand to completely overhaul its entire leisure-travel hotel reservation portal, it once again turned to Lucidworks search solutions.

In the process of demoing solutions for the C-suite, one executive requested Lucidworks execute a search for a specific hotel brand name “in Austin with free wifi and indoor pool for less than 250.” The executive said these natural language style queries are the type of requests customers submit on its website that its current search couldn’t effectively respond to. As the Lucidworks team typed the query into the demo search box, the search system began to do its work:

  • When the suggested brand name was entered, behind the scenes the search system recognized it and filtered the properties by brand.
  • When “in Austin” was added, the search system understood that “Austin” is a city and reduced the results to the brand properties located in the city. (Results reduced to seven.)
  • With the addition of “free wifi and indoor pool” the search system recognized both as amenities the traveler wanted and filtered to properties that offered them. (Results reduced to three.)
  • And finally when “for less than 250” was added onto the query, the Lucidworks search system understood it was a price intent and filtered results to a nightly price < $250. (Results reduced to two.) This was the kind of search engine power the hotel brand had been looking for.

Recommendations Fuel Wanderlust

Prior to working with Lucidworks, the hotel brand’s website did not offer recommendations for lodging and activities. Among the most positive learnings from Lucidworks supporting the recommendation engine on the hotel brand’s landing page was that recommendations drive wanderlust. From trending offers to most viewed properties, Lucidworks’ recommendations fueled user appetite for unanticipated destinations and activities. This increased loyalty and credibility for the hotel brand as a hub for all of their customers’ travel needs and then some.

Hungry for more insights on how we did this? Download the complete case study here. If you’re wondering how Lucidworks solutions can quench the appetites of your customers, get in touch with us to receive a demo!

About Dev Bhat

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