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Harbour Hotels Group Making waves with a new website for the Hotel Group of the Year

The brief

The Harbour Hotel Group had marked a new chapter in its story with the creation of bold, exciting and stylish hotels, and it was time that their new website lived up to the same standards whilst storytelling the Harbour customer experience.

We were approached to create a new website that would immerse users in the Harbour experience, improve UX, drive higher direct bookings and increase conversion rates for rooms, tables and spa bookings.


Services provided

  • UX & UI Design
  • Website & App development
  • Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Project team

  • Ian Mumford
    Ian Mumford
    Chief Executive Officer
  • John Pike
    John Pike
    Strategy Director
  • Tom Hopkins
    Tom Hopkins
    Senior Front-End Developer
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Our approach

Understanding the group from both a business and brand perspective was key. We started the journey with discovery. This involved numerous workshops and audience mapping sessions that involved stakeholders from multiple hotels who work in disciplines across the group’s entire estate.

We conducted local, regional and global competitor research to understand the online position the group needed to hold going forwards. We also performed in-depth analysis of existing website analytics, keyword research and SEO, booking conversion funnels and real-time heat mapping to set KPIs for user engagement and conversion on the new website.

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The next stage of the process was definition. We started by creating a new sitemap and key user journeys to inform the structure of group pages, individual venue modules and the way each user type will interact as part of their Harbour online experience. We then created high-fidelity wireframe prototypes and tested them in a live UAT environment where scripted objectives were set and carried out by a variety of site-related user groups.

Beyond definition came three phases: user interface design (informed by discovery), interactive prototyping and insights. Each was presented at board level to Harbour Hotels Group for full stakeholder sign off.

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Following approval of the website design came the build – our skilled team of one front-end and two full stack developers, led by a project technical lead, built the site in a Laravel framework with many bespoke, hospitality-specific functionalities employed to allow for the most intuitive CMS and front-end experience possible. The build phase included partnerships with multiple hospitality booking engines – Avenista, GiftPro, Premier Spa, Travelclick and a bespoke room booking platform. 

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On completion of the build, we entered the content population phase before undertaking final user testing, search performance work and quality assurance checks ahead of go-live. We did this in close collaboration between a dedicated project steering team from Harbour Hotels and our internal project team.

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The outcome

The new website has been a huge success and we continue to evolve the Harbour online experience as their retained digital agency. 

The website bounce rate has dropped by over 50%, users are up year on year and organic search is continually on the rise. The biggest collective result has been the increase in direct bookings, reducing the percentage taken by OTAs and third parties.

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The results

  • 53%

    Reduction in bounce rate year on year in first full month live

  • 16%

    Users up year on year in first full month live

  • 30%

    Increase in direct bookings, reducing dependency on OTA's


    The Escape is the most professional agency I have ever worked with. The quality of their team, and the quality of the output, was exceptional from start to finish.

    Matthew Roach
    Head of Marketing

Let's talk

If you would like to find out more about how we can help you connect strategically, creatively or digitally, then call us or get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.

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