Interhome relaunched their website. It sports different approaches to finding holiday homes. Among other features it now offers Guided Navigation and Map Search.
Interhome Website Relaunch
The new web design is smoother, more emotional and still sleek. The underlying search technology is by Endeca.com and comes with all the bells and whistles.
From the homepage, visitors have several options to drill down into the vast Interhome database. First off there is the large image carousel on the top left featuring five different potential entry points.
Other users may prefer to navigate by the map search on the upper right corner. And yet other users may scroll down beyond the fold and opt for one of the suggested topics.
Once into any of the given entry options, the Guided Navigation comes into play. The left hand navigation offers refinement options for further drill-down. Adding any additional criteria will immediately upload the results listing on the right hand side, thus giving a good idea on what other topics to refine.
The personal choice is visualized in the head of the left hand navigation. Should the result list become too short at some point due to many selected refinements, any of them can be deleted in the order a user may wish (technically speaking that’s not trivial…).
Once curiuos to learn more about a given holiday home, a click in the result list will lead to the property detail page.
Photos are available in a reasonably large size as a list.
Apart from the now usual Facebook Like, detail pages feature detailed descriptions available in many languages, availabilities and prices as well as content on the resort and the region.
Bookings are made online in 4 easy steps.
Guided Navigation – Technical Details
European travel software integrator Netmatch provided the Endeca meta-relational database search technology while Interhome’s internal web development department built the surrounding website and the underlying content management system.
Experienced users of Guided Navigation websites may be missing numbers next to the single navigation items indicating the number of holiday homes under that entry. Interhome decided to leave the numbers out because holiday homes not only feature refinement options such as countless arrival dates but also different duration of stay, etc. Recalculating all these values based on user click behaviour was not appropriate. It would also show the number of options for a given house and not the actual number of holiday homes.
Endeca uses an URL database in order to prevent duplicate content with search engines‘ index as that is estimated spam. The URL of each page is rewritten based on user input and based on importance of the given refinement. I.e. someone may start browsing by not so search engine relevant terms such as say ‚dishwasher‘. The URL will reflect that and show ‚dishwasher‘ as variable. But if the next refinement is say ‚Switzerland‘, a term that is way more relevant for Interhome’s search engine optimization efforts, the URL will be adapted accordingly and ‚Switzerland‘ will be placed before ‚dishwasher‘ in the result page’s URL. Each of the holiday homes has its own dedicated human readable internet address that users can refer to. In my example I used http://www.interhome.com/switzerland/davos/holiday-villa/ch7260.38.1
The faceted search accomodates for several visualization options such as calendar, lists, sliders (e.g. number of persons). See the following screenshot on the left hand side.
Endeca’s blog offers more insights and examples on visualizing facets.
The result page list can be visualized as a list or as a map with thumbnails underneath. The list can conveniently be sorted by favorite, price or place based on interest. Most users will stick to the default, young people may rather go by price (low to high).
Many thanks to Jeff Koenigs, ebusiness manager with Interhome, for hinting me to the new website!