One month after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, the travel industry is poised to make a recovery, according to the CEO of one of the world`s largest lodging reservations services.
“Our business and the entire travel industry were obviously greatly affected by last month`s acts of terrorism,” said Jane Karwoski, CEO of All-Hotels, the online reservations company. “In the last week or two, we`re starting to see a recovery as visits to our site and bookings have been slowly increasing.”
Traffic to All-Hotels` web site was down more than 30% in the week following the attacks, but has recovered since then, now off around 10% from the week prior to the attacks. Bookings have shown a similar upward trend.
Karwoski said there are no easy solutions to the current situation, and hoteliers should prepare for a state of uncertainty about the economy and travel for a long period of time. “Many hoteliers have already announced cost reductions and short-term price promotions, and these activities certainly have their place but every aspect of the business needs to be examined,” she said.
“I believe that one of the keys to financial recovery for hoteliers will also be to increase their means of distribution, by using the Internet,” said Karwoski. “Using the Internet saves hoteliers money and opens new markets for them, and we recommend that hoteliers consider having a booking engine on their web site. They can also reach new travelers by distributing inventory through a consolidator such as All-Hotels, or a destination-marketing organization, such as a local convention and visitors bureau.”
All-Hotels has recently launched a redesign of its homepage, which has made the site more user-friendly and helped increase bookings. “Just as hotels are competing for fewer travelers right now, so are sites like ours. Everyone is going to have to be more creative in their marketing efforts to attract customers, as the overall size of the market has diminished for the time being,” Karwoski said.
Other ways in which hotels can rebound from the current travel slowdown are to offer unique products and innovative pricing, focus on drive-in traffic, and work with travel agents and travel intermediaries to increase bookings.
“No one is certain how long the travel industry is going to be in this slump,” Karwoski said. “We`re taking steps to speed the recovery, and we will work with our hotel partners to do what we can to develop effective marketing programs. We all benefit from increased travel.”
Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, All-Hotels offers accommodations ranging from bed and breakfasts and discount hotels to five-star luxury resorts through its Web site. In addition, All-Hotels offers a variety of e-business solutions to hoteliers, including use of a-Res, All-Hotels` proprietary online booking engine that allows even small independent hotels to participate in the Internet economy. With more than 850,000 visitors to its Web site each month, All-Hotels is committed to providing one of the largest selections of hotels on the Internet.