Monday, June 20, 2011

“About Us” Evaluation: Algonquin Hotel Gets an A

The Algonquin Hotel in midtown Manhattan, in business since 1902, is the oldest operating hotel in New York City. It prides itself on its traditions and its status as a cultural center. Perhaps its greatest claim to fame is as the home of the Algonquin Round Table, whose members (among them Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, and Harpo Marx) changed the face of American comedy. The Algonquin’s main About Us page is here.


Personality: A minus

The mention of famous guests that have stayed at the Algonquin or dined there over the past century is a great touch--it gives us a sense of the type of clients the hotel caters to. It would be even better to quote such celebrities. If Noel Coward, Dorothy Parker, Angela Lansbury, or Harry Connick, Jr. made a comment on about why they loved the Algonquin, why not showcase it?

The interviews with long-time staff members Gulfer “Chuck” Shah and Bob Wilson (under Staff Stories) give a personal face to the hotel: these are the people most guests would be interacting with.

The Interesting Facts page is full of charming tidbits. It would be much more attractive and readable, though, if the facts came with photos. Transforming this page into an illustrated timeline would be a great way to incorporate even more names and stress the longevity and cultural importance of the Algonquin.

Products/Services: A

We love the fact that the Algonquin stresses its uniqueness: its long history, its distinguished guests, its status as a cultural center, its hotel cat. Doubtless many high-end hotels track their guests’ preferences, but the Algonquin gets points for playing this up, on the Traditions of the Algonquin and the Staff Stories pages. Given their history, we’d like to see more photos that convey the ambience of the hotel.

The Algonquin was recently acquired by Marriott. We applaud the fact that the Algonquin’s website wasn’t overhauled to give it a homogenized, corporate feel.

Accessibility: A

The footer on every page has the hotel’s address and a contact link, which is adequate. We wonder why there’s no direct contact for media, even on the Newsroom page. People who can offer free publicity should always have their paths made easy.


Sometimes a slick set of About Us pages is less effective than a series of pages that emphasize a company’s uniqueness. But it’s still important to cover the basics, including--if the organization is a century old, as the Algonquin is--the qualities and the attitude that have made the company last so long.

Does your Web site’s “About Us” section accurately convey your organization’s history and capabilities? Every two weeks we evaluate one example, grading it in three areas that are key to potential customers: Personality (Who are you?), Products/Services (What can you do for us?), and Accessibility (How can we reach you?). Contact us if you’d like to have your site evaluated—there’s no charge and no obligation.

Today’s example was chosen at random; has no ties to this company.