Five Reasons Hotels Need Their Own Websites
The hotel industry consists of a relatively small number of brands who franchise to a large number of property management groups. Two major mega-trends are driving the industry:
The industry has shifted from primarily a personal travel agent model to online direc to consumer becoming the driving force for revenue. To enable this process, nearly all franchisors provide a centralized bookings engine and landing pages for an individual hotel.
Large aggregators such as priceline and expedia have become very important in driving hotel business, but also charge large fees for bookings.
It would appear that between the internet presence at the corporate franchise websites and the online travel agents, there would not be a need for any individual hotel to construct their own website. However, the consumer shift to the internet has in fact accelerated the need for individualized independent websites. Here are five reasons:
Sales Acquisition Cost: Internet aggregators such as Priceline and Expedia charge large fees driving down profit margins. However, if a hotel builds a world-class website, they can take advantage of the largest aggregator in the marketplace (Google search) for free. This is especially effective when combined with Google Places / Maps for optimized SEO (especially in local search).
Accelerated Content Marketing: The OTA / Franchise web image for hotel properties are a low-impact, “cookie-cutter” consumer web experience. With a property owned website, a high-impact consumer experience is provided. Great photos combined with rich details and a complete presentation of amenities, showcase the property to drive on-site profitable bookings.
Increased Local Sales: Beyond offering consumers a night stay, the hotel owned website captures market share for meeting room, special event and extended stay sales. All of the B2B sales opportunities come alive online.
Local Partnerships: For consumers, the decision to stay at a hotel often is secondary to their primary reason for travel. For business travelers, this maybe travel to local businesses, and for vacation travelers, this maybe travel to local attractions. With a hotel specific website, the hotel marketing manager can build strong referral campaigns which drive traffic to the hotel (including the ability to use promo codes to measure ROI on specific marketing programs).
Business Operations: With an individualized website, the hotel can extend its utility into important areas such as employee hiring, customer satisfaction (through CRM and surveys), and remarketing / loyalty programs (through capturing guest contact information).
Hotels are selling in an extremely competitive market, where every incremental booking and margin improvement is vital for bottom line performance. Thus, the most effective method for driving incremental revenue and associated profitability is to capture online sales on your own website. It has become well documented that a reasonably priced, high-impact website offers an excellent ROI.
How does one build such a website ?
Some hotels have turned to local developers, but have found the issues with variable quality/competence. Far better and more complete solutions can be found with technology companies (example: Hospitality Solutions from Ocoos) who specialize in the hospitality space.