Hoteliers are discovering that the Internet is a fabulous chance to find clients, but also a real headache, and a tool that can turn out to be costly in money, but especially in time, if not careful. They are not that many operators to bet on the Net. However, their customers, Si!
Hoteliers and the Internet: they are in engagement, but the marriage has not yet taken place! Because while 88% of independent hoteliers declare that they have a website for their establishment, only 58% say they have it listed on search engines and only 28% have installed an online reservation and payment system. The majority of these sites are still unattractive, not very functional or not very selling, according to what travelers regularly polled by Coach Omnium say .
However, faced with this, it is now a given that almost 9 out of 10 hotel customers look for hotels to stay on the Internet , whether on business or private trips.
These Internet users, hotel customers, want simplicity, reliability and that things go quickly . Not being able to book directly through the hotel’s website is the best way to lose customers or to encourage them to go through reservation centers and online agencies (OTA: On Line Travel Agency). In the era of real time and interactivity, 83% of customers surveyed by Coach Omnium want an immediate response to any reservation request, whether by phone, email or via a site. To make people wait is to lose sales .
There is also an anomaly here where, on the one hand, hoteliers rightly complain about depending on OTAs and paying dearly for their presence on these centers, and on the other hand, few of them are boosting their own site. and their presence on the web. It is as if a merchant were satisfied with a small window as a showcase and added an arrow on his door directing his customers and prospects … to a competing distributor.
The Internet is (obviously) the new window to sell
Gold, a website is exactly a window that should make you want to push the door and buy. Hoteliers (12%) who do not have a website specific to their hotel explain this with different arguments: “the cost, the lack of technical knowledge, a lack of time, a (supposed) weakness of the benefits or even because the establishment is already on power plants or others ” . 3% of independent hoteliers who have spoken to Coach Omnium clearly say they do not believe in the Internet. But, with in the end so few attractive and operational hotel sites, allowing to book (with immediate response) and to pay online, we can think that more professionals would not be involved.
Thus, 63% of hotel customers find that hotel websites often lack useful information, 53% deplore the impossibility of booking directly, 44% say that the information is not always reliable and 23% agree. that the sites are sometimes or often unsightly or poorly valued (source Coach Omnium).
There is another aspect of the management of hotel sites. If 2/3 of the hoteliers ensure the updating themselves, in 34% of cases, it is an external company that is entrusted with this site monitoring work. This last option, which can be a solution to save time for the hotelier and bring professionalism, does however take the risk of total dependence on the subcontractor. It’s dangerous.
While the Internet has changed the world of tourism and hospitality, as well as the way consumers shop, which has given hoteliers an incredible chance to attract new customers, it has also greatly destabilized the hotel and tourism professions. . Over the past 5 years, a considerable acceleration has taken place, with the arrival of an unlikely number of new booking centers, webstores and OTAs, more or less serious and useful. And especially with the emergence of traveler review sites.
When previously an unhappy or happy customer could not let as many people as possible know it and word of mouth was after all quite confidential, the Internet makes it possible to shout to the whole world, or almost, what we have on the heart. With, of course, all the exaggerations that follow, in a favorable or unfavorable sense, with cheaters and dishonest, like any system which creates interest in a product.
It should be seriously taken into account that 3 out of 4 hotel customers say they trust community sites and traveler reviews before making their choice of hotel stays. They consider them more credible – because they are written by consumers like them – than all the labels, trophies or other distinctions that hoteliers can put forward to enhance their establishment. These consumerist spaces are a help for consumers, it should not be denied. They therefore have a bright future ahead of them and are not ready to be dismantled.
If today we are witnessing a form of counterbalance, where the media regularly denounce the presence of false comments on these sites, this abusive phenomenon is only in its infancy and should not last massively under its current form. In a movement of waiting for transparency, we can imagine that these sites will evolve in another way, more qualitative and more serious (and cheaters or accomplices of cheaters disappear), under pressure from consumers and the media. Not to mention the trials that are beginning to fall calling for a moralization of the practices of OTAs and central. But we also know that faced with any weapon, other weapons appear quite quickly. The bidding is continuous in the world of business and cheating …
However, where the Internet seemed to be a new tool for free or almost, very democratic and very fluid, hotel professionals are realizing that it costs them more and more to be. Between the heavy commissions to be resold on the Net by the OTAs and the central, the expenses to make refer its site, the costs of creation of professional sites (even if they have fallen sharply since the beginnings of Internet), the purchases links and referencing on portals, various subscriptions, fees to pay, etc. hoteliers often feel extorted on the web, even if many of these expenses are useful, when the services are of good quality. Not to mention the cases of customer diversion by unscrupulous hotel reservation centers.
It is therefore a form of new jungle that is rampant, with its new rules and practices that are not always easy to understand and master. First of all, these rules are constantly changing on the Internet. And when the price has become the first criterion of choice of hotels by travelers, thanks or because of the Internet, the first problem for hoteliers is precisely how to play on their pricing policy. This is where they are often the most uncomfortable: fluctuating prices according to supply and demand, and succeeding in convincing them of their fair price.
There is nothing to do, a hotelier who wants to exist, must imperatively impose himself on the Net. If he does not find the time to indulge in it – because the Internet is time consuming – he will absolutely have to mobilize someone to do it for him. And someone competent. Fortunately, young people are of the Internet generation. You should take advantage. The Internet has become the primary tool for marketing and promoting hotels. We might as well remember this and focus a real and intelligent strategy in and around the Net.
Because if hoteliers are faced with a host of new obligations (regulations, taxes, standards, etc.), the only way to save themselves from bad luck is imperatively to develop marketing . Reducing expenses is one thing, but growing your turnover is better and solves almost everything.