A few days ago, I posted about What the Internet has changed in the hotel industry. I quickly got great comments online and offline from players in the industry that highlighted the fact that it has mostly revolutionized the life of small independent hotels, for the best, but also for the worst. The best because the Internet has wide opened distribution channels for those who were struggling to cut through the clutter and get the visibility they deserved on the GDS (remember?) and traditional media (newspaper, magazine, TV, radio). On the other hand, potentially the worse because independent hoteliers end-up sitting in front of a mountain they don’t always know how to climb or just where to start… At a glance: third party travel sites, hotel blogs, affiliation providers, social media sites, hotel marketing forums, customer reviews sites, search engine optimisation reports, pay-per-click campaign performance reports etc. Not talking about the management of their own website which is a whole performance by itself. If 30 minutes per day is allocated to each category, hoteliers can easily end-up spending half of their day surfing and turning into online geeks.
If half the hoteliers’ time is spent online, is everything else covered during the second half of the day? Are we forgetting that the business is first about developing unique branded concepts that are matching the identified guest segment expectations and create an experience that will make the stay memorable? Or are we simply losing focus?
I feel that, sometimes, online tools are mistakenly becoming an end-goal rather than a means-goal.
Creating a memorable guest experience is the end-goal. Twitter&Co is a means-goal.
Internet is a magnifier
The Internet has changed our lives all together by giving us access quickly to information that was confidential before. It is especially true for the hospitality industry where the Internet has been a magnifier, giving the unique opportunity for independent hotels to quickly make a name for themselves and “advertise” widely their unique selling points and for guests to get endless alternatives. However when a hotel is wrongly managed, with poor maintenance and approximate service, there is nothing that Twitter or Facebook can do about it. Issues are only going to be magnified. So get it right in your own backyard, figure out what your brand promises are, roll them out and then make it known. Or it will backfire on you (Tripadvisor being the best example of an online magnifier).
I am purposely being controversial as I know very well the power of the new media tools when they are well managed, however, it is always enriching to review our goals and separate the end-goals from the means-goals, and not lose focus.
Fabrice Burtin – July 2010