Celebrating 2018: HEBS Digital & Serenata CRM Reflect on Another Successful Year

A laptop computer on a desk
Celebrating 2018: HEBS Digital & Serenata CRM Reflect on Another Successful Year

As the year comes to a close, HEBS Digital and Serenata CRM celebrate the many accomplishments of 2018, as well as the team members who made them possible. In the last 12 months, both companies were industry leaders in helping hotels around the world pave the way to digital success. Both HEBS Digital and Serenata CRM launched new products, innovated existing technology, and received multiple industry awards and accolades for award-winning advertising and marketing campaigns.

“This has been a transformative year for HEBS Digital and Serenata CRM. I’m proud to have seen so many great changes and innovations happen within each company,” said Peter Seidenberg, CEO of HEBS Digital & NextGuest Technologies. “As we close out the year by welcoming new projects with Viceroy Hotels and Resorts, Hard Rock International, and many more, I’m looking forward to 2019 and excited to see everything our team will accomplish.”

Company highlights from 2018 include:

Deepening the integration between HEBS Digital and Serenata CRM. After coming together under one parent company, NextGuest Technologies, HEBS Digital and Serenata CRM have continued to close the loop for clients with a fully-integrated guest engagement and acquisition platform. With the merging of HEBS Digital and Serenata CRM, the best technology in the hospitality industry is now under one roof.

Launching of new HEBS Digital products. One of the biggest products developed in 2018 was the Content Personalization Module 2.0 which is currently in beta and will be launching early 2019. Within the smartCMS®, this module captures real-time targeting data and lets hotels personalize their website content for specific audience segments. Additionally, new social media advertising platforms were introduced, such as Facebook Dynamic Ads for Travel, which retarget users whose online behavior suggests they are planning travel to specific destinations. Smart Search, currently in beta with a few clients, enables users to easily find relevant content on a hotel’s website. Features include full-text indexing, type-ahead search, automated site-content indexing, and keyword highlighting in the search results.

Continuing innovations to award-winning technology. HEBS Digital’s in-house team continued to release technology innovations that help hotels drive more direct bookings. Most notably, several key updates were made to the smartCMS®, including:

  • GDPR: With the GDPR having taken effect in 2018, many updates were made to the CMS in regards to managing personal data on hotel websites. Security updates were made which added end to end security for all database connections, RFP module updated to adhere to GDPR, and a Consent Manager was added to the CMS.
  • Animated GIF Support: Having GIFs and videos on the website has been a big trend for a while. Whether your hotel has a lobby with a fireplace that you want to have flicker, or your hotel is on the beach and you want to show ripples of the water, you have the ability to make the website that much more engaging.
  • Pixel Manager Module: Let’s say for example that you want to start a paid social campaign via Facebook retargeting, and you need to add the Facebook Pixel to the website. You would click to add a new one, then and populate the fields accordingly. Name, Description, copy + paste the pixel –all pretty straightforward. In addition, pixel instructions usually inform users on where to place it, so you would choose from the dropdown accordingly. Lastly, you will select the type of pixel it is –in this case, “Marketing”.
  • FAQs Module: In the era of AI and voice search, having an expansive FAQ section on the website has increasing importance. Through SEO optimizations and schema, hotels will have the opportunity to have better SERP ranking for these types of long-tail keyword terms. This dedicated module will make content more intuitive to manage and offer more flexibility in regards to the layout of FAQ content.
  • Content & SEO Scraping Feature: Instead of having to manually copy and paste sections of text from an existing site, this feature will save time and energy as users can now simply click a few buttons and import page text and metadata all at once.
  • Automated Schema Markup: Schema helps search engines “understand” web pages and display search results – especially dynamic content elements such as events and happenings, opening hours, reviews and more. Its automatically generated to make web pages appear more prominently in SERPs which drastically increases visibility of hotel websites and improves click-through rates.

Continuing innovations to Serenata’s CRM technology. 2018 was a year of technical innovations for Serenata CRM, focusing on the design of a next-generation CRM solution to be launched in 2019. The goal of this innovation is to unleash the capabilities of a CRM and guest intelligence platform to increase revenue generation and ROI for hotels. The next-generation innovations are focused on dramatically reducing data complexity while increasing automation of digital guest engagement for hotels. This will be achieved by a new, highly-customizable way of using big data and artificial intelligence to support active user guidance, campaigns, and action recommendations, which can be seamlessly converted into omnichannel marketing campaigns. Furthermore, Serenata has introduced a brand-new user interface that makes the CRM suite more intuitive and user-friendly. Ongoing growth of technology integrations continued to be a key focus in 2018. With protel and SIHOT, Serenata added two global PMS players to the integration portfolio. GDPR was another hot topic in the past year. Serenata CRM has built in additional functionality to allow hotels to master GDPR compliance with ease.

“This year, we have worked hard to combine HEBS Digital and Serenata CRM’s industry expertise with new and disruptive technology to drive personalization to the next level, leveraging the power of real-time and behavioral data,” said Thomas Hoefer, Managing Director of Serenata CRM. “While we continue to help our customers use a broad range of guest data to build audiences and trigger personalized messaging, we can significantly reduce complexity and increase automation and ease-of-use with our next generation CRM.”

Notable client website launches in 2018 include:

  • Heritage Hotels in New Zealand launched their new, multi-property website on the smartCMS® platform, allowing for full control of each of its 18 property’s content in one place. The Destinations page includes an interactive map and details about each property’s location. A custom Venue Showcase displays all relevant information for event planners to access.
  • Hard Rock Hotels launched their new multi-property website on the smartCMS® platform. The Destinations page catalogs hotel and casino locations, with filters by location, property type and experience. The Experience page highlights experiential hotel programs, family-friendly experiences, and dining and nightlife.
  • The London West Hollywood website features a stunning video on the homepage, and a custom page honoring their official mascots, Winston & Churchill. HEBS Digital also created a mini-site for weddings.
  • Hotel El Ganzo is a unique property located in San Jose del Cabo that launched a new, custom site. A custom landing page was designed to house their arts and music experiences, including a cultural calendar, videos from the El Ganzo sessions, and a social feed that brings in fresh content from the #elganzomusic hashtag.
  • The Resort at Pedregal, a long-time HEBS Digital client, launched a brand-new website with several leading-edge features. From device to device, the fully-responsive site makes researching, planning, and booking travel as easy as possible — with features including 360-degree room tour integration and a custom booking widget. A newly-designed hotel blog also provides The Resort at Pedregal with a fresh platform for sharing content about the resort as well as exclusive and exciting destination activities.

Notable CRM wins in 2018 include:

  • The roll-out of 106 Shangri-la Hotels & Resorts across all their brands worldwide.
  • With MEININGER, Serenata was also able to unlock an entirely new business segment integrating a hybrid and disruptive hotel provider within the rapidly growing hostel segment. Serenata CRM is the first provider in the hospitality industry to adapt its CRM to the specific needs of the hostel business.
  • With Viceroy Hotels & Resorts, we will implement the Serenata CRM suite across all their hotels. In combination with the new website launch, Viceroy will be our first, fully-integrated guest engagement, acquisition, and marketing client.

Industry awards and accolades in 2018 include:

HEBS Digital

  • HSMAI Adrian Awards: In 2018, HEBS Digital took home three Adrian Awards in recognition of innovative digital marketing campaigns and hotel websites. Shore Cliff Hotel was awarded a bronze for their website redesign, Loews Hotels and Co was awarded a bronze for their multi-property website redesign, and The Resort at Pedregal was awarded a silver for their summer multi-channel campaign. Mariana Safer, Senior Vice President of Client Success, was also recognized at the 2018 Adrian Awards gala as one of the Top 25 Most Extraordinary Minds in Hospitality Sales, Marketing, Revenue Optimization for 2017.
  • Travel Weekly Magellan Awards: HEBS Digital was honored with six awards in the Travel Weekly 2018 Magellan Awards including gold awards for AKA’s website design and technology, Viceroy Hotel Group Cyber Monday Campaign, and Cheeca Lodge & Spa’s Legend Lives on Campaign.
  • Stevie Awards: The smartCMS® was recognized with a bronze Stevie Award for the best New Product-Software in the Content Management Solution Category.
  • World Travel Awards: HEBS Digital was named the Leading Travel Merchandising Solution Provider in North America by the World Travel Awards.

Serenata CRM

  • World Travel Awards: After winning the World Travel Award (WTA) as the World’s Leading Hospitality CRM Technology Provider in 2015, 2016 and 2017, Serenata CRM also won the WTA in 2018 for Asia’s Leading Hotel CRM Technology Provider for the innovative CRM and Guest Communications solutions.

Thought Leadership in 2018:

With a focus on content this year, HEBS Digital produced many thought-provoking whitepapers, eBooks, and articles. The quarterly whitepapers covered trending topics in hospitality digital marketing and guided hotels through new and innovative developments to be incorporated into their digital strategy.

Our eBook, From Dreaming to Booking: How to Capitalize on the Full Travel Planning Journey, takes an in-depth look at how travelers interact with digital moments differently depending on which phase they are in. As travel planners encounter more digital distractions and more research happens throughout the traveler’s customer journey, being there for the most important digital micro-moments—during which preferences are shaped and decisions are made—is crucial to capturing the attention of potential guests and nurturing them through the path to a direct booking.

Aside from these larger pieces of content, we also produced many articles on current topics in the industry including:

Additionally, we released two issues of our NextGuest Magazine. Issue #3 focuses on full-funnel marketing with tips on reaching guests at every stage of the travel planning journey. Issue #4 dives deeper into digital marketing strategies and the future of luxury travel.

“In 2018, the team worked hard to produce content and tools to help our clients stay on top of industry trends and new developments,” said Margaret Mastrogiacomo, VP of Strategy at HEBS Digital. “The hospitality industry is ever-evolving and our in-house experts have done an excellent job sharing industry knowledge in new, creative ways.”

Plans for 2019

In 2019, HEBS Digital and Serenata CRM will continue to focus on innovation. Serenata’s focus will be the capture and use of user behavior data, audience building, and scoring. The goal is to capture guests at the beginning of their digital journey and leverage this data (as part of the guest profile) to significantly increase conversions from potential new customers. A KPI engine and dashboard solution that allows hotels to easily visualize big data and market trends, in combination with instantaneous execution into multi-channel marketing campaigns, is also on the roadmap in 2019.

“Our companies have accomplished a lot in the past 12 months, specifically when it comes to deepening integrations between our technologies,” said Dieter Dirnberger, CEO of Serenata CRM. “It has been such a transformative and innovative year for both HEBS Digital and Serenata CRM, we look forward to continuing the momentum into 2019.”

HEBS Digital will also continue technology innovations and prioritize content personalization, as well as other features that, as always, increase direct bookings. Another focus will be on developing strategic content strategies for clients that include a holistic approach across hotel blogs, social media channels, and more. By capturing the upper-funnel users through content, hotels can better nurture qualified leads and convert these guests when they are ready to book.

Most importantly, HEBS Digital and Serenata CRM will continue to provide all of the tools hotels will need for a successful digital strategy to acquire, engage, and retain their best guests.


Founded in 2001, the firm is headquartered in New York City and has global offices in Las Vegas, Tallinn, Munich, and Asia-Pacific. Through its Smart Guest Acquisition Suite, including the smartCMS®, Smart Personalization Engine, Smart Data Marketing, and full-service digital consulting and marketing solutions, HEBS Digital helps hoteliers drastically boost direct bookings, lower distribution costs, and increase the lifetime value of guests. Its diverse client portfolio consists of top-tier luxury and boutique hotel chains, independent hotels, resorts and casinos, franchised properties and hotel management companies, convention centers, spas, restaurants, DMO and tourist offices.

Part of NextGuest Technologies, HEBS Digital and Serenata CRM, the most comprehensive Hotel CRM Suite today, are the creators of the hospitality industry’s first Fully-Integrated Guest Engagement & Acquisition Platform.

Contact HEBS Digital’s consultants at 1 (800) 649-5076 (North America), +64 (0) 9 889 8489 (Asia Pacific) or success@hebsdigital.com.