Online services critical to hotels, says expert
Dubai, May 12, 2009
Hotels failing to keep up with the latest online technology and charging guests to use the Internet are placing themselves at a competitive disadvantage especially in the economic downturn, a leading industry expert has warned.
“The now critical importance of online technology has been underlined with a global survey – which included the UAE – showing that plugged-in hotels are likely to get more guests checking in,” said Maggie Moore, exhibition director of The Hotel Show. “This is proving particularly true in the technology-savvy UAE.”
Organised by dmg world media Dubai, The Hotel Show will take place from May 24 to 26 at the Dubai World Trade Centre and will host the latest products, services and technologies for all sectors of the hospitality and leisure industries.
The Reuters Synovate survey of 6,300 people across 10 countries looked at how people choose their hotels and what features are important.
Nearly a third said the number one way they assess a hotel is via its website, followed by asking friends or colleagues. Nearly half said they do some research and comparisons, mainly online, before making their choice.
“The survey showed a whopping 47 per cent of travellers now make sure a hotel caters to their technology needs before they book,” said Moore.
“It is clearly no longer recommended for hotels to make wireless Internet an added cost feature,” she added.
“Business and leisure travellers expect to be connected at all times just as they are in their offices and homes.
“The importance of hotels having a well considered online presence also cannot be overemphasised in today’s changing market. The survey found that globally 19 per cent of people researched online every hotel in an area to make an informed choice.
“However, that rose to a staggering 39 per cent of respondents in the UAE. In addition, 10 per cent of people in the UAE also visited online blogs for travelers’ insights on a property.”
The survey showed that seven out of ten people said they would stay in a less expensive hotel given the current economy and that high-tech facilities are now the top criteria travellers look for when choosing a hotel.
“It emphasises yet again that one of the greatest challenges facing the hotel industry in these value-conscious times is to ensure guests enjoy a technology experience which matches or exceeds what they have come to expect in their homes or offices,” added Moore.
The Hotel Show will also feature debates on advanced in-room technologies, technology and design and technology for profit will take place during the Seven Star Conference which runs alongside The Hotel Show.
Technology solutions for areas such as guest and function rooms, public areas, business centres and back offices will be on display at The Hotel Show. Other sectors of the show will include interiors and design; operating equipment and supplies; and the resort experience including outdoor furniture, accessories and design, spa equipment and supplies.
The Hotel Show 2009 also sees the launch of the first Middle East Spa Summit.
The Reuters Synovate survey was conducted online, via telephone and by face-to-face interview across 10 markets: Brazil, Canada, France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates and the United States. – TradeArabia News Service