How Hotels Can Best Seize the Growing Mobile Opportunity
By Des O'Mahony Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Bookassist | February 20, 2011
The mobile space is growing at an unprecedented rate and presents real and immediate opportunities to hotels to reach their customers and generate direct booking revenue for low acquisition cost.
How Hotels Missed The Internet Boat
Unfortunately for hotels, the guest has usually been well ahead of them in terms of their service requirements online. In the late nineties, as the web began to explode, the guest was already online and increasingly looking to book online. But hotels were far from ready to serve the online guest directly. The result was that third party channels stepped in as middlemen to fulfill the need and facilitate the online guest, taking control of that middle ground between hotel and guest.
Hotels spent much of the following decade paying high commission fees to third party channels that were servicing the hotels' own guests online. Meanwhile the hotels' own direct web presence was woefully inadequate and underpromoted, with little chance of converting lookers into bookers. The third party channels succeeded in taking strong control of the online space, and hotels have been suffering the financial consequences ever since, with third party channels in control of many hotels' inventories.
Gradually, hotels are realizing that they can sell directly, that they can reach their guests directly online, and that they can do so with lower acquisition costs than the third party booking channels would have them believe. The savvy (but still rare) hotel is embracing online marketing and social media and is no longer at the mercy of what the third party channel dictates in terms of rate.
But just as hotels have realized this past mistake, a new battle looms where the stakes are even higher. That battle is for the mobile space, and it is growing far more explosively than the rapid growth witnessed in web adoption. Hotels need to seriously invest in keeping up with guest requirements on mobile and ensure they don't make the same mistakes in the mobile arena that they paid the price for in "traditional" web.
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