It’s getting more and more complicated for independent hotels in Europe to attract new guests and compete with internationally famous hotel chains. Even though the gross bookings grew by 2.4% and estimated 35.9 billion euro in 2015, the growth can be called quite modest. In true, it is three times slower than the growth of hotel chains. In 2017, the share of independent hotels is expected to fall to 56%, while in 2013 it estimated 58%.
Many independent hotels still rely on their websites as main source of advertising. According to surveys, more than half of independent hoteliers consider their website to be the most important channel of distribution. At the same time, online travel agencies (OTA) cause mixed feelings to many independent hoteliers. Their importance is hard to overestimate currently, 71% of all hotel bookings in Europe are done through online travel agencies. At the same time, many independent hoteliers are worried about being too reliant on OTA. Therefore, even though businesses want the majority of their customers come from their own websites, they have to admit the fact that these days customers come from booking websites. Such portal as booking.com is responsible for 49% of all OTA sales of independent hotels.
Travel review websites are another source of customers for independent hotels - as many as 47% of hotel owners mention these websites as one of most efficient marketing tools. 28% of respondents rely on SEO services. Additionally, more than half of European independent hoteliers say their websites are mobile friendly. The growing popularity of gadgets makes it essential to have websites that are optimized not only for search engines but also for smartphones and tablets.
Finally, independent hotels can also improve their own management and distribution systems to be more competitive. Currently, around half of hotels don’t have an online booking system on their website. Only 31% of these hotels use property management system. Automated booking and room management will help hotels gather more detailed information about their property and see their strong and weak points.