technology, hospitality, and plumbing…

The internet really HAS changed the hotel industry!

In General on July 13, 2010 at 22:11

Fabrice asks What did the Internet REALLY change in the hotel industry? — and although i don’t have the inside stats that he’s looking for (my experience over the last 10 years has been as a supplier, not as a hotelier), i would hazard a guess that the biggest recipients of any benefits would be small independent hotels.

Large chains have always been well represented in distribution channels, and never found it difficult to acquire customers. Small, independent hotels, however, found it much more difficult, without power over wholesalers, and lacking the money and salesforce to develop alternative channels. GDS bookings are very expensive for these guys, as they’re often forced to go through intermediaries, who apply a markup.

For these hotels, the internet has been a revelation, an opportunity, a lifeline. Finally, somewhere to market themselves cheaply: with a little bit of savvy, and a basic website, hotels can reach an enormous audience. In addition, niche players fare well, with often unique offerings that are relatively easy for enthusiasts to find with a few well-targeted keywords. Google Adwords allows (PPC) campaigns to be run efficiently. Low-cost booking engines handle online bookings for a percentage. All this means very little risk for the hotel owner.

Apart from that, the personal service and often unique experiences that these kinds of hotels provide make for happy customers, who having found the hotel online, and made the booking online, complete the circle by adding reviews to sites like TripAdvisor.  This is in contrast to chains that are often seen as impersonal, often resulting in lukewarm reviews.

So small, independent hotels can build a business on the back of the internet, and as their business grows, so their websites can grow more sophisticated — better features on a more professional site, a better booking engine, a social media presence can all follow and generate even more business.

These hotels have definitely seen a huge new revenue stream, for a modest investment. In this way, the internet really has changed the hotel industry.

Anthony Green – July 2010

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  1. Your right – it’s the small, independent hotels that now have an easy way to market their properties. This is especially true when you look at the ’boutique’ market – they really have unique selling points to make themselves stand out against the larger, more well know chains, and being able to use video and quality multimedia, as well as social media channels, it’s these properties that have gained by using the internet.

  2. I couldn’t agree more. I can’t even imagine what our sales and revenues would be like in the past 5-6 years, without the internet (website, online booking system, presence in other websites etc), nor what they would be in the next years. As a small family-run hotel, the potential to reach prospective guests across the globe using the internet is limitless, whereas it could only have been extremely limited with the traditional channels of yore.
    The downside of course is that we are now chained, psychologically and physically, to the laptop and the WiFi. Impossible to live without them, impossible for business to exist outside the virtual space of cyberspace… Holidays for the hotelier? Yes, equipped with laptop and wireless connection, even on a sailing yacht!

  3. Daphne, i know what you mean — is it ever possible to unplug these days?!!

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