Hotel Online  Special Report

New Consumer Hotel Booking Preferences - 
They Love the InternetÖNow What?
By: Neil Salerno, Hotel Marketing Coach, March 2005

In case you didnít catch it, last week an historic announcement came across the wire, ďConsumers now prefer booking hotels online over all offline optionsĒ (Source - Keynote Systems Inc.) In my heart, I knew it had to come, but I never dreamed it would happen so soon. 

BAM, the stakes for hotels on the Internet just went up a notch. All along, we have lived with the conjecture that online bookings were nice, but voice reservations and other means far out-weighed this relatively new electronic entity; the Internet. We were all so indoctrinated to the same ole, same ole; it was hard to imagine that the Internet would or could take over traditional reservations means in less than a decade. 

It appears things are changing, big time. Iím sure that much of this turn-around is due to the fabulous job now being done by hotel franchises. They finally got serious about the Internet. Just three years ago, I wrote that third-party suppliers had taken the early lead in embracing the Internet; leaping ahead of hoteliers. Many bright franchise people are changing that all around. 

Iím hoping that the next big step will be that the major franchises will change their position and allow, even encourage, their hotels to have their own web sites; with the provision that the hotel sites utilize the franchise booking engine. 

For franchised hotels, there is no need to have a separate booking engine. Data collection was the primary benefit from using a separate booking engine but few hotels ever used it. 

Franchisors think about it. There is really no need for your franchised properties to maintain a separate booking engine, and the extra reach and exposure would be fantastic. A true synergy will be born. 

We all know that the franchises were extremely nervous about allowing their hotels to maintain individual web sites. The potential lack of control over rates was a scary proposition; separate booking engines have the potential to undermine franchise efforts. Allowing and encouraging separate hotel web sites, while using the franchise booking engine, is a progressive answer to making true progress on the Internet.

In this way, a hotel would have the opportunity to take advantage of the popularity of its franchise and also tap into the efficiency of todayís search engines. The fact still remains that most hotel searches are still location driven. Franchisors would have everything to gain and nothing to lose. You have an opportunity to dominate hotel sales on the Internet. 

The Internet, as a marketing tool, is the undisputed world champion of all marketing tools. Its cost to return ratio is the highest we have ever had at our disposal. For a few hundred dollars we can expose our product to millions of hotel travelers and count on a great return from that investment.

Donít forget the importance of third-party suppliers. I still believe that third-party suppliers are important reservation-generating tools for most hotels. From everything I read; it seems to be boiling down to the top three; Expedia, Travelocity, and Orbitz.  This certainly makes partner selection easier for hoteliers. 

Combined with the GDS and web site sales, this can be a formidable combination to produce sales. Franchisors are leveling the playing field with their hard work to promote their hotels online. There is room for both third-party suppliers and franchises to be successful and a true benefit to hotels, everywhere. 

Now that we have physical proof that use of the Internet is substantial and growing, it just doesnít make any sense for any hotel, motel, or bed and breakfast not to become fully involved in it. 

Independent properties, in particular, need to become fully involved in the electronic reservations process; GDS, third-party suppliers, and the Internet. Today, many of the companies which supply web site booking engines also provide GDS services. In this way, you only need to maintain one rate and availability data base for both; makes the task much easier.

If you donít have a web site, what are you waiting for? Itís just not that costly and it will almost always provide an excellent return on your investment. If you have a web site and itís not producing to your satisfaction, get an analysis done to see why. 

When choosing a booking engine to accept real-time reservations online, shop around. The most popular booking engines are not necessarily the best. Ease of controlling and updating availability and rates is foremost, but service is critical. Beware, also, of those booking engine providers who immediately want to re-design your site, when it may not need it. 

In any event, we have reached a real milestone in the evolution of the Internet. Take advantage of its success. I still believe that it is only the beginning.



Neil L. Salerno, CHME, CHA
The Hotel Marketing Coach

Also See: Who Would Have Thought - Today's Hotel Marketing Necessity Is Also its Best Value / March 2005
Time For a Hotel Web Site ďMake-OverĒ? Methods for Building a Successful Web Site Change / Neil Salerno / March 2005
Create Impact by Developing a Link Strategy For Your Hotel Web Site / Neil Salerno / February 2005
Steps to Develop Your Hotel's Presence on the Web / Neil Salerno / February 2005
Five Hotel Internet Marketing Myths - Busted!/ Neil Salerno / January 2005
How Does Your Hotel Web Site Measure-Up? 2005 Will Be the Internetís Most Productive Year so Far / Neil Salerno / January 2005
Are You Being Out-Hustled By Your Competition? How to Dominate Your Hotel's Market Set / Neil Salerno / December 2004
Why Are Some Hotel Companies Plagued By Management Turnover? Is This Systematic of Poor Performance? / Neil Salerno / December 2004
Basic Components of a Hotel Website: Current Weather, Flash Animation, and Virtual Tours?? Plain Talk About Internet Sales / Neil Salerno / February 2004
Donít Compromise Your Goals In 2004; Five New Yearís Resolutions You Will Want To Keep / Neil Salerno / January 2004
No More Whining About Third-Party Suppliers; You Control Your Own Fate On The Net / Neil Salerno / December 2003
Six 'Maxiís' Guaranteed To Boost Hotel Sales / Neil Salerno / November 2003
Itís Time To Take Back Control Of Rates & Rooms - But Is The Enemy...Us? / Neil Salerno / November 2003
Booking Engines Are Like A Box of Chocolates...You Never Know What Youíre Gonna Get! / Neil Salerno / October 2003
Hotel Web Site & Search Engine Optimization; Always A Work In Progress / Neil L. Salerno / October 2003
Hotel Budgets and Marketing Plans; Oh No, Is It That Time Again? / Neil L. Salerno / September 2003
Increasing Hotel Internet Sales Is Not Rocket Science...And It Doesnít Have To Be Costly Either / Neil L. Salerno / September 2003
Are You Treating Third Party eWholesalers As Competititon Or a Valuable Marketing Partner? / Neil L. Salerno / August 2003
How Often Have You Heard, 'I could have gotten a better rate but the client saw our rates on the Internet' ? Itís Time To Get Back To Selling Location, Facilities, and Services / Neil L. Salerno / August 2003
Before You Begin that Marketing Plan Challenge Your Sales Team; Expect More and Get More / Neil L. Salerno / July 2003
Jump Up and Shout Yes - Delivering Best Online Customer Experience, Nice Job Vividence! / Neil L. Salerno / July 2003
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.... Youíll Always Get What You Always Got! Hotelierís 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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