What’s in the WWW for hotels?

Jun 09, 2005
With all the convincing reports of how the number of reservations made online is soaring, there seems to be an opportunity to be seized.

In general, strategies such as investing in a branded hotel name, working with online travel agents and optimizing a hotel's own websites are ways to exploit the online market. All are sound strategies and will result in a very positive outcome when a hotelier is precisely aware of his product, the market and what competitors he faces.

A hotel brand indeed helps to secure more guest attention, particularly for independent hotels. Every brand has shaped its own particular image; a potential hotel booker will have certain quality expectations from a particular brand. But does this prove that hotel brands succeed in securing online reservations for hotel property?

Now, every hotel has its own uniqueness to be exposed aside from the quality standard of the brand. Some brands would try to secure their intellectual property and protect a copyright by instituting policies unfavorable to its members - such as not allowing hotel members to host their own websites. How then could a hotel promote its unique specialties? A brand may indeed succeed in marketing its own name, but does this contribute to a hotel's direct sales? Moreover, hotels have to compete with fellow hotels operating under the same brand.

Working with online travel agents used to be a significant strategy, but now hotels tend to withdraw into themselves, slowly but surely, a trend pioneered by Intercontinental Hotel Group when it launched its 'rate integrity' ~ guaranteeing the lowest rates on its own website. High commissions and losing control over their own inventory has been a key reason for some hotels to decide against using an online travel service. Is it true, as some suspect that online travel agents do not operate in a hotel's best interest? Why not look for a win-win solution and stop treating intermediaries as adversary?

The fact is that the intermediary's domination over online reservations cannot be denied. Potential hotel bookers continue to find that intermediaries bring efficiency into hotel searches through extensive publications, and user-friendly systems have drawn a growing number of online reservations. For this and other reasons a hotelier should embrace intermediaries tactfully.

Hotels set up their own websites for a variety of reasons. Why not optimizing a site, since it is on the 'net'? The fact is, a hotel website has to be user-friendly, advertised properly or in other words - easily available through a search engine, in line with the market it wants to reach, and should contain all necessary and valuable information that a guest needs. Since a hotel website is an investment, reservation software must be available on the website so that there is a return on investment. A hotelier must acknowledge that visitors feel more confident with the information they find on a hotel's own website, compared to other, intermediary websites.

The three strategies mentioned above must be studied thoroughly in order to get the most optimal result. Bottom line online reservation revenue is there for a hotel to grab, as long as it showcases its uniqueness through its own website (along with the hotel brand's website) with the ability to capture online reservations and at the same time distribute its rates and inventory to all intermediaries.

Pelican reservation software assists hotels in acquiring online reservations through their own websites, and also allows hotels to manage their room rates and inventory through chosen intermediaries. User-friendly features and real-time confirmation enables a hotel to close sales immediately and the system generates an email confirmation, to both the guest and the hotel.

This comes about not only through setting rates in a hotel's own website: a hotelier might create an unlimited rate template and assigned it to a particular market segment, for any given inventory. This software is a compact solution enabling hotels to maximize control over rates and inventory through all intermediaries, and at the same time to optimize ROI on a hotel's own website.