The rapid advancement of technology affects practically every industry, and the hotel and service industry is not exempt from this. With global and local hotel brands turning to the World Wide Web in order to boost sales and facilitate customer relations, it is easy to see how the industry is evolving along with the Internet.
Social networking sites, led by the Facebook phenomenon, are proving to be more and more important for not only hotels but for other businesses as well. With the prevalence and influence of user-generated content such as reviews and other forms of feedback, hotels get the benefit of plugging by way of word of mouth. Maintaining relationships with previous clients also becomes easier to handle with a variety of online tools at the hotels’ disposal.
There are also web sites dedicated to bringing travel services and accommodations straight to the consumers’ monitors-whether it is through standard personal computer access or through the exponentially growing number of mobile phone internet users. There are also other utility web sites that aid consumers by providing aggregate information, reviews and feedback from numerous sources.
Just how big is the impact of online booking for the hotel industry? Take Europe, for example. Industry experts are predicting that a third of the travel in the continent in 2010 will be purchased through online means-with booking sites like Trip Advisor, online travel agencies like Travelocity, and other hotel affiliates being the foremost facilitators of this movement.
That scenario will likely be the case in the other regions of the world as well, as even Asian markets are looking to catch up to the technology and the development of such services for their own travel and hotel industry growth. Companies investing on online travel are starting to focus on other markets where online travel has not had the kind of penetration as in mature markets like the United Kingdom.
Hotel operations managers acknowledge that the Internet provides an alternative way for people to book at their establishments. While some doubt the capability of online travel purchases to increase hotel bookings, it is widely accepted that online promotions is an effective way to drive people interest and thus increase the number of bookings.
Of course, with all the advanced software and dedicated web sites, it is easy to lose sight of one of the most important functions served by the Internet: information dissemination. Through the web, consumers can instantly get access to a wide variety of information, from what time to check in to which brand of red wine the hotel’s restaurant serves. Value propositions, missions, events, functions, special rates, room furnishings-all of these are available for the perusal of potential patrons.
The online travel market for the hotel industry is an ever-evolving landscape, with the growth of online travel patronage as well as the development of new technologies that help support this growth. The evolution of internet-based hotel industry services will continue for many years to come, as travelers turn to quick online solutions for many of their pressing accommodation needs.