Andrew Grieve claims the internet could make 2008 a bonanza season for sections of the independent UK hospitality trade
A Yougov survey recently published claims that 31 per cent of all UK holidaymakers intend to use the internet alone for their holiday research and bookings this year.
The same survey states that only four per cent of holidaymakers will ignore the internet completely when choosing a holiday and will instead fall back on more traditional means such as travel agent brochures.
Such shifting trends, combined with a credit crunch that has caused many foreign holidays to become 20 per cent more expensive because of recent exchange rate fluctuations, means that now, more than ever before, independent UK hospitality providers need to adopt cogent web strategies to attract new business to their properties in 2008.
Often referred to as Web 2.0, technological advances have altered ways that people and businesses use the internet forever, and there are few industries more susceptible to the benefits and pitfalls of Web 2.0 than the independent UK hospitality trade.
Nobody in the hospitality trade can ignore these web trends if they want to make the most of a 2008 season, which is already showing signs of increased UK & European bookings because of more expensive overseas breaks caused by the economic turmoil.
Branded holiday operators are reporting increases of 30 per cent in their UK holiday bookings so far this year over last year.
And independent hospitality providers can see similar increases if an effective internet channel marketing and booking strategy is in place.
However, many independent hospitality providers will miss out on a potential revenue bonanza in 2008 as they have not implemented an internet marketing and booking strategy that will yield good returns.
Placing a few online adverts is simply no longer enough.
Equally, many independent hospitality businesses believe they do not have the budgets or expertise to compete online with branded hotel and holiday chains.
Discover Global Bookings meets the needs of independent hotels and guest houses by enabling proprietors to both market their properties and take bookings online with no technical expertise required at all.
The system is as inexpensive as it is effective and will make the difference between a bumper and a mediocre 2008 bookings season for many UK independent hospitality providers.
Quite simply, hospitality businesses use the system to upload room rates and availability, with relevant tourist information and imagery about their properties and Discover Global Bookings distributes the information through thousands of trade and consumer holiday booking sites across the globe.
Travel agents and tourists view all aspects of a hotel, guesthouse or inn before booking online via the online booking engine placed on the websites created for each Discover Global Bookings subscriber.
Hospitality businesses are able to advertise and take bookings online without any extra effort from a global audience, while holiday-makers can book their accommodation from uniquely crafted websites.
Andrew Grieve is the managing director of Worcester-based Discover Global Bookings.