WTM 2017: ‘Hotels must evolve into online marketplace or risk missing huge business opportunity’

WTM 2017: ‘Hotels must evolve into online marketplace or risk missing huge business opportunity’

Hotels “will miss a huge business opportunity” and become reliant on third parties if they continue to resist evolving to the online marketplace.

So said José Murta, global head of hospitality at trivago during a World Travel Market speech.

Murta said he worries for the 50% of hotels that he said do not yet have mobile-ready websites or online booking engines, and the 70% of hotels he said that still use pen and paper rather than property management systems.

“This is happening while the whole industry is talking about online booking,” he said.

“The more online marketing grows, the more complex it is for the ones that have poor content. Hotels are not able to cope with the development of this industry – but there are now tailored solutions.”

He said that, globally, online bookings will overtake offline bookings by 2025 and that that landmark had already happened in the US.

“The future is obviously online,” he said. “So how can hotels overcome the obstacles of technology? Still in 2017 hotels are not able to cope with the fact that they need to move fully online. They are still hugely reliant on offline bookings, but hotels will miss a huge business opportunity if they don’t move online.”

Murta said the main barriers, especially to independent hotels, were that technology is difficult to access, booking engines are not competitive enough and direct marketing channels are too complex.

“To move online still requires them to have hardware, train staff or hire experts. The hotels that can afford this technology soon realise that it becomes obsolete.”

He said research showed that 90% of hoteliers think metasearch is not a good form of marketing, a theory which he disputed and suggested showed how far behind the curve some hotels are.

“You know that travellers’ start their journey on meta and end up in your hotel,” he said and finished by asking: “Do you want to rely on any third parties or do you want to overcome the obstacles and drive them direct?”

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