The internet has had a profound impact on the travel and hospitality industries. An interesting presentation by Forrester Research at the HEDNA 2006 Conference revealed these significant statistics and facts that show the powerful impact of internet on hotel distribution:
• 71% of all North Americans are online – this number is expected to increase by 81% by 2010. 4 in 10 online leisure travelers who research travel online use a search engine like Google to do so – even though Google does not sell travel.
• Only 5% of US online leisure travelers view themselves as extremely brand loyal. For business travelers it is only 7.5%.
• As the internet continues to evolve with it’s technology, it will become more essential for supplier sites to create rich content on their sites to enhance the user experience
• Travelers think in adjectives like “romantic”, “hip”, and “family friendly”. You can improve your search results by providing richer content into your website
Source: Forrester’s NACTAS 2005 & 2006 Online Study
Couple the above statistics with figures from Forrester that show that 51% of leisure/unmanaged business travel is estimated to be booked online this year and it’s obvious that the internet is a powerful place to be. Not only is it driving more and more business, but it is often your lowest cost distribution channel. The problem is many hoteliers treat their websites like a brochure and not a revenue generating vehicle.