How hotels can take control of the Internet economy

  Posted in Online Distribution

By Mark Abramowitz, VP Marketing, SiteMinder

It used to be, if you wanted to reach guests as a hotel, you might put up a big sign outside or hand out brochures, put an ad in the Yellow Pages, get on the phone and hope for the best. It was simple, but terribly limiting.

Now, with the Internet inviting the entire globe into any hotel, a hotel’s reach has exploded, regardless of that hotel’s size or location.

The Internet economy knocking on a hotel’s doorstep is a massive opportunity. In fact, online travel booking revenue has grown by more than 73 percent over the past five years, alone. But it also brings with it a tremendous amount of extra work, new things to learn and do and a whole layer of expertise that just wasn’t necessary in the old days.

More information, more choice

Today, travellers have more information than ever, making it easier for them to learn about where to go, what to see and at what price. In 2013, the amount of digital information available was growing at 50 percent year-on-year and two-thirds was consumed or created by people – people watching videos, using social media and sharing images.

And it’s more than just information-sharing. More people are travelling now than ever before, because it’s easier and less expensive. Think about budget airlines, accommodation and last-minute deals.

In just six decades, travel has seen a dramatic rise both in breadth and scope. A mere 25 million people travelled the globe in 1950, and mainly to and from the traditional destinations of Europe and North America.[1] In 2014, international tourist arrivals reached 1.1 billion, a 4.7 percent increase over the previous year, with emerging economies increasingly capturing the imagination of travellers. Indeed, for 2015, UNWTO forecasts international tourism to grow by a further three to four percent.

More work and expertise

While all of this progress means more choice, attracting, reaching and converting all of these travellers just seems impossible for today’s independent hotel. It requires an expertise that doesn’t naturally come with an expertise in hospitality.

Just think of everything an independent hotel now has to do to stay relevant to a global customer base: Understand and master search. Mind review sites like TripAdvisor. Optimise the ever-growing group of booking sites out there. Build their own web and mobile experience. Have a social media presence. Answer phones, run a front desk and tend to guests.

Independent hotel duties

 

For hotel groups, which typically have more resources, spending more on technology doesn’t earn the most from of every room, every time either. Channel managers, property management systems, revenue management systems, websites, Internet booking engines and central reservation systems don’t talk to each other, so guest attraction, reach and conversion is limited because channels aren’t accessed or updated.

Hotel groups are stuck with lower revenues, lower margins, higher dependence on the same and typically more expensive channels, as well as a lack of visibility into how the web is performing for their hotel. And it’s far from future-proof; it’s less flexible technology that isn’t ready for the frequent changes to the travel market – and the speed at which they happen.

Enabling hotels to take control

The rebrand of SiteMinder this month is the first step on a journey to better reflect the value we bring to our more than 16,000 hotel customers and 350 connectivity partners across the globe. We wanted to rethink who SiteMinder is and what we mean to the market.

Our new tagline, positioning and look are reflective of where SiteMinder has been and where we are going. We are a digital platform that enables all hotels to attract, reach and convert guests globally, with a simplicity that makes it easy to stay ahead of changing travelling trends.

For independent hotels, SiteMinder makes the web easier to manage. Independents can take control of every customer touchpoint on the web by integrating a direct booking tool and connecting to online booking sites through real-time, two-way channel integration with property management systems. Just take the case of Lagoon Beach Hotel in South Africa, which went from spending up to 95 percent of its days updating websites and re-entering reservations to nearly doubling its online bookings within just one year, or Mantra Observatory in Australia, which grew the annual revenue generated from its own website by almost 300 percent. There is also a tonne of potential for independent hotels, as SiteMinder delivers a wealth of data that makes decision-making more effective and more powerful across every point of the guest experience.

For hotel groups like Mantra Group in the Asia Pacific, The Hotel Collection in the UK or Sercotel in Europe and Latin America, that means tight, easy integration between systems to increase their reach and lower their cost of distribution. Communication goes in every direction so rooms are booked, inventories and properties are updated, and rates are managed in real-time. It’s an end-to-end view of their business on the web, and it’s flexible enough to keep rooms on the web, no matter what new Internet behaviour emerges.

As soon as someone decides to travel, SiteMinder helps hotels to convert that person into a guest, at a higher margin, with less work and a lower cost of acquisition.

Customer success is at the heart of what we do. With SiteMinder’s leading cloud platform, hotels of all sizes can compete in today’s market by attracting, reaching and converting guests across the globe.

[1] Online Guest Reviews and Hotel Classification Systems – An Integrated Approach, World Tourism Organization, 2014

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