Here's a simple quiz. A Mumbaikar has to go to New Delhi on a business trip and wants to find a good hotel to stay in. How does he go about it? a) Ask relatives; b) Call up his pal in Delhi; c) Go to a travel agent; d) Use the Internet. An increasing number of travellers are choosing option d. You don't need an Internet expert to tell you why: it's fast, reliable and, even better, the traveller can even make a hotel reservation online if he chooses to.

For a hotel marketer, the medium offers reach, cost-effectiveness, and a really targeted audience.

The figures give an indication of the Internet's popularity among travellers: in the US alone, USD15.5 billion of hotel sales were generated online, a fifth of all hotel sales! A survey of online shoppers done recently by the Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) found that 20% of Internet users had made hotel reservations online; 31% indicated that they were likely to do so in the near future.

Preeti Desai, President, Internet and Mobile Association of India said "With leisure travel on the rise, so is the need for Hotel Rooms. As per our estimates Rs 29 lacs worth of Hotel Stays were sold online in 2004-05 and Rs 2.36 crores worth will be sold in 2005-06. This is increasing because companies of all sizes have realized that for no implementation charge they can begin using an online travel program that drives down the company's travel management costs and overall travel spending.

Small companies which look for not only value but efficiency of service may not get best of negotiated deals offline as their volumes are small are hence increasingly using the net for all their travel planning to make 'good' of the advantages that the net can offer". She further adds 'Hotels should advertise online and use search optimization & marketing to drive these customers directly to their branded websites in order to capture more bookings and augment revenues. Promotional room rates are certainly the best way to hook travelers, but hotels also need to make their websites easy to use and highly functional".

Get the full story at Internet & Mobile Association of India