Three Key Success Factors for an Independent Hotel's Website

By Pedro Colaco President & CEO, GuestCentric Systems | April 22, 2012

The Hidden Reality: most hotel websites do not generate enough business.

GuestCentric recently conducted a survey of over 300 hoteliers in North America, and the results were quite telling: while 84% of all hoteliers ranked their online strategy as important or very important, and 86% stated that they were happy or very happy with their official website, their main concern was that almost all hotel managers felt that their website did not generate enough business. This should come as no surprise, as only a staggering 14% pursued a structured online strategy!

This article tackles the issue of how independent hotels should create a structured online strategy to ensure e-commerce success for their official websites.

The online opportunity for Independents

Many industry studies show that the overwhelming majority of travelers (up to 80%) make their hotel selections and over 50% end up booking online and that 82% of those would prefer to book directly at the website of the hotel if they can get the best price and a trustworthy experience. If you tie these results with the fact that online bookings are the only growth market in hospitality in 2009/10, then it is clear that Independent hotels that provide their guests with a sub-standard online experience need to quickly upgrade their offerings to capitalize on the online opportunity. A strong e-commerce offering will enable Independent hotels to maintain their occupancy rates and decrease distribution costs through direct online bookings.

What is a successful hotel website?

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.