​HOTELS GO VIRTUAL: A New Marketplace

Author: John Fay   Date Posted:22 March 2015 

     

With the advent of more and more Internet-capable devices- smartphones, iPads, tablets, and increasingly thin laptops- online bookings have largely become the prevalent and the preferred method for hotel and accommodation reservations. According to rezdy.com’s published statistics, more than half of the market now uses the Internet to plan and book their itineraries and accommodations.

There are several non device-related factors that account for these statistics. First, canvassing for an available accommodation is much easier when presented with a list, such as one generated by reliable search engines like Google and Yahoo. Other list providers include websites that aggregate entries based on specific categories (e.g. Agoda.com, trivago.com, expedia.com) and more recently, apps that do the same thing with the added value of having the information more conveniently on hand (e.g. Choice Hotels, TripAdvisor, and Hostelworld). Another factor is also the less stressful experience websites can provide. There are no customer service representatives to deal with and no complicated telephone systems to bypass. You just need to key in a few words and you would be able to compare prices, make transportation arrangements, read reviews, and learn about the experiences of other customers. This allows clients to feel more confident in the products and services they choose to patronize, as they haven’t been subjected to sales talk and pressure.

But what about the benefits to hotel and accommodation operators?

The advantages that one can glean from utilizing websites are remarkable. Data is more easily manageable. For example, online bookings can go straight to systems that schedule and organize this sort of information. Payment is more straightforward, and correspondences and invoices are all in the form of hard text (email, chat logs, generated billing statements), which leaves definitive cyber tracks; this can come in handy especially when managing and settling disputes.

Operation and management costs are cut down because websites and direct online booking systems eliminate, or at least lessen, the need for middlemen. There are no agency fees or commissions to be given to third parties.

Websites also contain information that can not only be attractive to potential clients, but also to potential suppliers. Job applicants now have easily accessible information that allows them to find employers that seem to suit them and therefore have the greater potential of fostering a better relationship and working experience. Previously untapped business opportunities are now within easy reach.

Perhaps the most significant advantages that websites can provide are in the sphere of marketing. Technology is at an age now that allows individual establishments to access markets from all over the world, and that used to be a virtually impossible feat. Now, one has access to an immeasurably wide variety of markets- different countries, social and economic demographics, and lifestyle patterns, among many others. Hoteliers are provided with tools that can control their reach with targeted marketing and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and can focus their budgets on particular locales and certain kinds of viewership. These tools not only streamline marketing techniques and boost the success of promotional campaigns (based on impression, click-through, and conversion rates), but also allow the tracking, study, and interpretation of data about customers that business owners would otherwise not be privy to. For example, it is now possible to find out which images from a set are most effective in terms of click counts or page visits. The same techniques can be employed to predict customer behavior and responses to different promotional campaigns. These types of information are invaluable and can be incredible instruments in business management and development.

Aesthetics of course play an important role in marketing, especially doing it via the Internet. On websites, there are no human beings employing more traditional sales techniques in order to land a client; in fact, that can sometimes be considered a benefit. Most people are visually oriented, especially when it comes to where they spend their money, so in the WWW (World Wide Web), one must rely on text and images.

Investments in this marketing platform include virtual space and materials such as bandwidth, hosting, and domain names. More significantly, one must invest in good content, and here, looks do matter. Just as the hotel is judged by its location, architecture, and style, so it is also judged by its website. A professional-looking site awards its owner's credibility and attractive to its clients, and these days, it is no longer that difficult to find a hotel and accommodation website designers that can create better output. The challenge, however, may be finding one whose design style or aesthetic will fit the particular brand.

For example,beach accommodation can have a very different look from a hotelin the city or one in a mountainous region. People go to specific locations for specific reasons. Activities at the beach are different from activities in the city, and the mood or ambience in each locale will vary accordingly. Websites must reflect these characteristics and effectively communicate to the audience what the branding is.

Skilled Hotel and Accommodation Websites Designers must not only produce good-looking images and layouts; they must also be able to inject the needs of the business into their work. Good choices must be made in the production and selection of images and font, and the interface must not only be engaging for the customer, but also helpful for the management of the establishment.

Those in the business of hotel and accommodation can benefit greatly from setting up websites, but only if they are willing to give it enough attention- from picking the Hotel and Accommodation Websites Designers to maintaining the blog section. Content must be up-to-date, relevant, and engaging. After all, the Internet is still a marketplace, the most competitive one in fact.

Considering the upsides of websites for businesses, especially those in the industry of travel and leisure, it may be quite surprising that some establishments are still absent from the virtual world. There are certain cases where this choice may be beneficial or even necessary, but for the most part, if a business is not online, it’s not even in the race.


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