Hotel Online  Special Report

”Jump Up and Shout "Yes" - Delivering Best Online
Customer Experience, Nice Job Vividence!

by Neil L. Salerno, CHME  July 2003

Every so often, I read an article, which makes me verbally shout,  “YES”, as others stare at me thinking I just won the lottery. Well, that’s how I felt when I read the Hotel-Online article from Vividence “Hotel Industry Web Site Study”.

As a hotel guy, thank you, Vividence, for validating many of our concerns for the still young on-line market segment. I strongly encourage everyone to read the findings of their research.

The entities, which produced their “top overall customer experience”, were:

  1. Expedia
  2. Travelocity
  3. Sheraton
In fairness, the study was limited to Hilton, Hyatt, Intercontinental, Marriott, Sheraton, Wyndham, Expedia,, Orbitz, and Travelocity. I wish they had included Radisson; their efforts have been extraordinary, in my opinion. 

This report points out the need for us hoteliers to get serious about this growing market segment. For the past two years, we have all discussed and lamented about how much third party sellers have impacted our business, positively and negatively. Most talk has been on the negative side. This “third party” concern even spawned a new site created by several hotel companies to compete with online eWholesalers.

As stated by Vividence, “ Hotel sites like Sheraton are creating stronger brand experiences online, while online travel agencies like Expedia and Travelocity are converting more browsers into buyers”. Kudos to Sheraton for building a stronger brand experience, but isn’t our main objective to actually convert browsers into buyers? It’s obvious that we have a long way to go as compared to third party online promoters. 

I was especially concerned when I read the Vividence quote “Despite the tremendous success of online travel, the lodging sector only performed average compared to Web norms for customer experience” Folks, they are referring to the major franchise company Web Sites in their study. Just imagine how individual hotel and small company web sites would fare in a study like this. Scary thought, isn’t it?

The facts are that eCommerce is here to stay for a long time to come; it is also the least expensive sales medium today; and, done properly, will produce a great return-on-investment, now and tomorrow. Some hotels seem to be caught in the void of not totally understanding how the Internet works and not realizing the impact it can create, if done properly. 

A good place to start is to get a view of your web site from someone who does not have any vested interest in its beauty or how well it displays your hotel; a view of its functionality. An independent  ‘Web Audit’ is not an expensive proposition and can unveil any user friendly difficulties as well as a whole host of other information such as down-loading times, search engine effectiveness, data base maintenance, booking engine effectiveness, rate positioning, deals and promotions, etc. These Web necessities are not created equal. A “fresh eyes” view could help you make, what is often inexpensive changes to produce incremental sales for your hotel.

Remember, in sports, professionals consult other professionals to get a fresh view of their game from time to time. So, even if you employ a technician, who did a masterful job creating your Web Site, a simple Web audit could reveal some new opportunities and produce more business.

I applaud the work and time major franchise holders are dedicating to the pursuit of Internet business. They are combining the technical expertise with the marketing expertise necessary to develop the Internet into a major market for hotels. There is no doubt that, eventually, this expertise will move down to their franchised individual Web Sites. This will serve the greater good for our Industry as a whole. Until then, hoteliers get serious about your own Web Site; it’s worth the investment.

Neil L. Salerno, CHME
Hotel & Internet Marketing Solutions
1369 South Wembley Circle
Port Orange, Florida 32128
Also See: Is The Internet Delivering On Its Promise? Well, It Depends on How you Look at It / Neil L. Salerno / June 2003
Coaching and Mentoring, Sometimes A New Paradigm Can Go A Long Way / Neil L. Salerno / June 2003
Sales Training Works Well, But Sales Mentoring Makes It More Effective; Mentoring Lasts a Lifetime / Neil L. Salerno / May 2003
Is It Time For A Sales Tune-up? How Healthy Was Your Last Forecast? / Neil L. Salerno / May 2003
Hotel Web Sites; Want it Creative or Effective? / Neil L. Salerno / May 2003
If You Always Do What You Have Always Done.... You’ll Always Get What You Always Got! Hotelier’s Mantra... Thinking Outside The Box / Neil L. Salerno / April 2003
Good Sales Planning - The Basics Still Work / Neil L. Salerno / April 2003

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