A number of hotels and hotel companies are testing the waters in what some believe might be the next big tool in the electronic marketing toolbox: podcasting.

With initial investments being small, these hoteliers feel that it's worth a shot to experiment with the medium in case it does take off.

"We see podcasting as alternative radio," said Ryan Bifulco, president of Travel Spike, an electronic marketing consulting company. "You do not need an iPod or other MP3 player to download a podcast. In fact, you can listen to a podcast at your desk, on your computer or you can listen to it on satellite radio.

"Think of it as a radio show or audio blog that you can also listen to on your computer or iPod," he said.

Bifulco sees huge potential for podcasting. At the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International Internet Travel Marketing Conference in New York, he drew attention by saying, "Podcasting will be bigger than blogging."

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