HSMAI, TIG Global and NYU published a free report that covers the attitudes on costs and benefits of online distribution from a unit level perspective in the U.S. hotel industry.

Some of the report's highlights are:

- Respondents rated their own website as more effective than any other online channel of distribution; their off-line reservation department is the most effective at delivering business volume they want at the price they want; meeting planner websites were considered least effective of all channels to deliver the desired business volume.

- While most hotels have their own website, 10% of them don't offer booking capability. Furthermore, 10% of hotels still do not have a dedicated site at all.

- The average spending for online marketing was just over $50,000 a year; the most often cited range of spending was $25,000-$35,000 annually. While many hotels have begun to embrace the use of online marketing fully, one-fourth of the hotels claimed their online budget was 'too small to note.'

- Revenue managers, often the decision-maker on online travel agency usage, were on-site in most hotels and spend almost two and a half hours per day on channel management.
HSMAI, TIG Global and NYU published a free report that covers the attitudes on costs and benefits of online distribution from a unit level perspective in the U.S. hotel industry.

- While many hotels are starting to use their online channels to collect customer profile information, more than one-third are not. In addition, just over one-half of the respondent hotels report actually using customer profile information to drive marketing campaigns.

- The greatest area of concern for these hotels over the next five years is maintaining awareness of their property in the online space on their own website, through search engines and online travel agencies.

- Most hotels anticipate significant growth in online business volume with the average expected increase to be at least 50% by 2008 over 2005 levels. These projected increases referred to business conducted through the hotels' website and third-party websites, excluding changes in GDS volume.

- The online channel expected by most respondents to have the greatest impact is search engines followed by third-party travel agencies.

- Industry organizations and the conferences they host are high on the list for go-to places to gain information and knowledge about online distribution, with HSMAI and HEDNA most often cited.

Researched at the end of 2005 and written by Cindy Estis Green, managing partner of The Estis Group and Mark Warner, director of graduate programs and professor at the NYU Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management, the report is based on findings from 60 participating properties, ranging from city to suburban, branded to independents and upscale to mid-scale hotels and resorts.

'Up until now, there has been very little information available to describe the state of the industry, people's attitudes, intentions and perspectives on Internet marketing and distribution,' states Robert A. Gilbert, CHME, CHA, president and CEO of HSMAI. 'This report is an excellent overview that reflects a diverse cross-section of the U.S. hotel marketplace.'

'A general consensus is that maintaining awareness in the crowded cyber marketplace is one of the most difficult tasks respondents face today, and the first choice for spending any incremental marketing funds against distribution channels would be on improved marketing of their website,' explains Estis Green.

Warner adds: 'Hotels are continuing to see increases in online traffic and are gaining expertise with new technology and marketing techniques to capture demand while constantly managing multiple channels of distribution. Watching increased consumer use of search engines to quickly gain touch points to hotel web sites is an example of how hotels must continually manage and optimize their visibility in the distribution maze.'

Get the free report at TIG Global