Coach Omnium publishes an unprecedented study intended to measure the performance of the commercial means used by hoteliers and chains to attract their customers. Far from bias, this qualitative-quantitative survey, which covers 802 hotel customers interviewed face-to-face and by telephone, calls into question a lot of received ideas.

Many hoteliers, but also chains, succumb to service providers to create smartphone applications and other gadgets, however little used by customers and sometimes very expensive.

It should be remembered that more than 8 independent hoteliers out of 10 do not, or very little, develop active marketingfor their establishment. And of the 83 voluntary and integrated hotel chains in France, only fifteen have a sufficiently strong reputation to be able to attract customers.

Among the commercial tools, first of all, the Internet has imposed itself completely and without surprise, leaving the other means of marketing a minimal portion. 93% of travelers go online to find hotels to stay. They were 84% in 2009. In other words, the 12% of hoteliers who do not have a site and the 36% of hoteliers who do not have an online reservation and payment system are not being helped. 46% of hotel customers inquire about the websites of central reservations and online travel agencies (OTAs) and 16% book rooms there. But in terms of overnight stays, this represents a much larger proportion (not measured in the study).

The study gives a very clear overview of the different means that influence hotel customers in their choice of hotels. GPS is useful, but has little effect on hotel sales. Applications on smartphones and tablets are hardly used, even downloaded. Loyalty programs have very mixed, if not limited, success. Social networks and forums are not used for hotel research. The quality labels are not known. We hardly consult the tourist offices anymore. And the stars are hardly taken into account any more, because it is now the price which serves as a reference to locate a hotel in a range.

Travelers overwhelmingly seek review sites that they find informative, convenient, or useful, even though they don’t always see them as reliable. Many still rely on guides (Routard, Michelin, etc.) and go directly to hotels to book a room (59%, including 25% by phone).

On the price side, precisely, 56% of customers surveyed by Coach Omnium find that hotel prices are too high and 28% think that prices have increased excessively in recent years. This situation causes 1 in 2 customers to behave in a feared manner, without measuring the weight: they reduce their hotel stays by opting for other more economical solutions (reduction of the length of stays, short trips without accommodation, accommodation in competing accommodation including guesthouses, etc.).

More than 6 out of 10 hotel customers have become “bounty hunters” , looking for good deals, using price comparators and being attentive to promotions and flash sales, even if it means trying to negotiate rates with hoteliers when it suits them.

As for, finally, the image of our hotel industry, although more expensive than the independents, the chains are judged as having a better quality / price ratio, and as being easier to find and to book. On the contrary, independent hotels gain in terms of hospitality and charm, according to hotel customers who have spoken to Coach Omnium.  

This study confirms that there are choices of means to be made to capture hotel customers, without dispersing themselves, including a strong policy that involves the Internet. And also, that we should not expect labels, stars and chains with little notoriety, of any commercial fallout.

 The complete study can be downloaded free of charge from the Coach Omnium website , which offers it to supporters and members of theCommittee for the Modernization of French Hotels.

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