Content, speed, and ease of use--that's what the best sites are made of. 1) Turnberry Isle Resort www.turnberry isle.com The Turnberry Isle Resort puts the meeting planner's sales packet on- line, with menus, AV info, floor plans, and billing procedures. This site should set an industry standard for content. It is also easy to navigate and offers a streaming video tour of the property.
2) SwanDolphin Hotel www.swandolphin.com The meeting planning section at this site offers a personalization option. The site also gives 360-degree views of public space, a multilingual streaming video, and great floor plans.
3) PlanSoft www.plansoft.com Throw out the meeting facility guides--this site has a more comprehensive and up-to-date database of hotels with meeting space than anything else you can get on paper or on the Web. Well organized and highly searchable, it provides meeting space specifications, Web links, and contact information.
4) Hotelview www.hotelview.com Streaming video and audio technology at this site provide video tours of more than 100 properties worldwide. It also has an easy-to-use, clickable map for selecting locations.
5) Hotelstravel www.hotelstravel.com If you're looking for lodging in Smallville, this is the site to try. Hotelstravel.com claims Web links to more than 75,000 lodging and travel resources, including links to more than 220 hotel chains.
6) Hilton Hotels www.hilton.com Hilton has led the pack with its fast, clean site. Follow the "Meetings & Groups" link for free downloadable floor plans, a slick online RFP form, short-term group value dates, and a complete directory of facilities.
7) Holiday Inn www.basshotels.com/holiday-inn Holiday Inn gets a nod for being the first hotel to allow Web-based, real-time sleeping room reservations way back in 1995. It's still an easy-to-use and effective tool for meeting and event planning.
8) La Mansion del Rio www.lamansion.com This site has it all. Its simple navigation scheme and consistent and elegant design encourage exploration of the historic San Antonio hotel, with loads of content for group business as well as the casual traveler.
9) W Hotels www.whotels.com This site offers one of the best examples of Web design supporting a hotel's image, but it also has an annoying pop-up window that opens slowly while assaulting the visitor with music.
10) Hyatt Hotels www.hyatt.com Hyatt makes my list for its fresh, fast design and easy navigation. It opts for basic text and is light on graphics--a great example of less is more.
My selection factors, in order of importance, were 1. Content--My top 10 sites have lots of useful information for visitors.
2. Ease of Use--These sites load quickly and are easy to navigate.
3. A Creative Idea--Some sites work on novel marketing or display ideas.
4. Aesthetics--Pleasing design encourages site exploration and establishes brand recognition.