The hotel industry maintains steady growth as consumers continue an upward trend of shopping for hotels online and booking electronically, according to TravelCLICK’s 2007 first quarter eTRAK results, released today. The data shows the total Central Reservation System (CRS) reservations for major hotel brands increased 6.9 percent in Q1 2007, reaching more than 21 million bookings.
The Internet contributed 41.2 percent, or 8,796,245 reservations, of the total CRS reservations at major hotel brands, a 21.9 percent increase compared to the same period in 2006. The data also highlights the low growth but continuing importance of GDS e-commerce, with 35.7 percent of total electronic CRS reservations. Voice reservations represent the remaining 23.1 percent of CRS reservations, posting a decline of 4.8 percent over the same period last year.
In the first quarter of 2007, brand websites grew again and continued to gain share compared to third-party merchant and opaque websites, which remain an important component of hotels’ online strategy to ensure visibility to a global consumer audience. According to eTRAK, brand websites were the source of 82.3 percent of the brands’ centrally-booked Internet reservations.
eTRAK is a quarterly benchmarking report that enables individual hotels to track booking trends on the Internet and GDS through CRS performance. The consolidated results provide industry indications based on performance trends for 28 major hotel brands and chains.
Observations for the market based on this latest data include:
¯ Electronic bookings show no signs of slowing down, making an actionable electronic distribution strategy a crucial part of any hotel’s business plan for growth.
¯ Hotel websites have become the center of the industry’s sales and marketing efforts. As consumer choice continues to broaden, hotel companies are increasing their focus on Web-direct bookings to ensure the consumer sees Web-direct as a viable option.
¯ The voice channel is benefiting from synergies with the Web, as call volume continues to decrease while conversion rates increase due to more educated customers.
“Hotels are getting better at ensuring that rate parity exists and that the hotel’s website lives up to its best rate guarantee,” said Jeff Bzdawka, Chief Operating Officer at TravelCLICK. “In conjunction with more aggressive Internet marketing, the industry also continues to drive business direct, increasing overall profitability.”