“It should come as no surprise to anyone in the hotel business, but the job is changing rapidly. Hotel trade magazines have recorded the seismic developments, and are ready to instruct operators on how to handle them.
More and more hotel customers are heading directly for the Internet to make their reservations. This puts hotel managers directly in touch with their clients, and eliminates middlemen like travel agents. In fact, recent studies have shown that as much as a third of vacationers opt for this approach. Gone are the days when managers negotiated terms with agents and customers. Now many travel sites fill up their hotel rooms with little fuss.
The old ways seemed so simple. But the Internet is simpler still, provided that managers use it the way it was meant to be used. Many hotel trade magazines are rising to the challenge, and instructing hotel managers on their new responsibilities.
More outreach, more reward
But jumping on the Internet bandwagon is going to take some work. There are dozens of major tourism sites that connect their customers to hotels around the world, and smaller tourism sites for niche travel. Most hotel trade magazines should have directories of such sites, thus saving you the trouble of hiring a marketing director. But if you’re unsure of the Internet approach, you might want to call in some public relations help to get yourself established.
You’ll need to establish a presence on the tourism sites, and build a professional web page where potential customers can contact you directly. Furthermore, you ought to get in contact with the various chambers of commerce and the regional tourism groups. If someone wants to vacation in a particular area, they might call those organizations for a lay of the land.
It is absolutely critical that your web page be as user-friendly as possible. Hotel trade magazines have surveyed these customers, and found that the only reason they went online was the convenience. There are dozens of other hotels literally a click away that will take your business. Many hotel trade magazines could give you a lesson in establishing a brand name and an image that draws in the crowds.
But the risks…
The magic of the Internet makes it possible for customers to easily reach the hotel management. It also makes it easier for them to complain about a sub-standard stay.
Most travel websites allow their users to rate the hotel based on their stay, and give them an opportunity to describe the experience. On the plus side, it provides an excellent opportunity to learn from your mistakes. On the down side, a disgruntled customer could scare off customers with a bad review.
Getting your name online is a gradual process that takes time, and requires continued maintenance. Be as professional with your web presence as you are with your hotel, and success is guaranteed.”