The 2011 Model Year Lodging Website - What Are the Latest Features?

By Rob Kall President, Bookt LLC | January 16, 2011

Just like with Automobiles, the 2011 Model Year Website is finally here! We've spent the last month scouring the net to determine what is coming out from the best hospitality web shops around the globe. While the last few years have been somewhat challenging for the online lodging industry, it is poised to roar out of the gates in 2011 with many new exciting models, and without any government bailouts, we should add!

First, a Look in the Rear View Mirror

Before we start talking about the 2011 Website, let's go back to this time last year and discuss what was part of the 2010 website upgrade. In 2010, hoteliers finally replaced the popup booking engine from their hotel site, realizing that popups had been banned from the rest of the internet several years ago. They also made the connection between excellent high resolution room photography and booking conversion. Every website was all of a sudden search engine friendly, with specialized URLs and site structure. Finally no self-respecting property failed to add a Facebook fan page link to their home page, but most failed to do something useful with it.

So What's New for 2011?

A lot, but in essence it is that your website solution is now a vital part of your entire marketing and operations. No longer a brochure or just a place to take reservation, it's much more. We have identified 5 major trends:

  • Social Becomes Serious
  • Mobile and Useful
  • Merchandizing All your Assets
  • The Smart Online Campaign
  • Turning Your Data Into a Competitive Advantage
  • The Holistic Online Enterprise
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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.