Exploring new opportunities on the web for hotelsNewsBy Viewpoints | April 19, 2011Share This article was originally published on NB: This is a guest post by Kristin Intress, CEO of InnLink.The hotel market is among the fastest growing segments of online travel, which itself dominates ecommerce spending.A significant portion of hotel revenue comes from reservations but how do hotels, especially independent hotels and smaller chains, increase their reservation revenue?As more bookings come from less traditional avenues, hotels need to update their strategy in order to keep up.1. e(Facebook)commerceAs more consumers spend time on the Internet, the emergence of social networks is making a significant impact on the hospitality industry and commerce.Facebook is the second most popular website in the world, just behind Google, and is quickly becoming an e-commerce portal.The hospitality industry is joining others by using Facebook as a sales and marketing tool to reach potential clients by designing booking engines within Facebook.These booking engines launch from a hotel’s Facebook page, and allow users to view the property, pricing, and book a reservation. According to HotelNewsNow: "The conversion rate on direct referrals from traveler review sites to hotel supplier websites ranged from 4% to 6% in 2009, while conversion from Facebook to hotel websites was 8%."Share this quote A strong social media plan is no longer a "good idea" for hotels, it is a necessity.2. Book it on-the-goThere is a strong shift in guest behavior towards doing research and making reservations online. Increasingly travelers research their destination online and 80% make reservations online.Google recently announced that mobile searches have increased 3,000% year over year, and many retailers have designed and engineered mobile apps that allow consumers to view and purchase products on smartphones, much like they would if they were on a PC.Travelers are the ultimate on-the-go consumer and use smartphones to do just about everything from checking in for a Delta flight or buying a latte at Starbucks.Optimizing a hotel’s website to be a mobile booking engine accommodates the traveler and gives the hotel another channel to reach the customer.Currently, 1.5 to 2% of hotel bookings originate from mobile sources. Hotels with mobile websites are experiencing doubling and tripling of mobile generated revenues.Hotels need to show they understand that customers expect solutions tailored to their individual needs and are willing to implement the necessary tools to accommodate them.3. Optimized CRSFor a hotelier, a CRS provider used to be just the hotel’s call center for inbound guest requests.Today, a CRS has morphed into a highly technical infrastructure providing hotels access to thousands of traditional and online travel agencies and website booking technologies.A CRS provides a hotel guest access to the hotel inventory through all channels desirous of the guest. With an optimized CRS provider, a hotel can utilize the maximum number of channels and technology products to capture hotel bookings to optimize revenue.As technology provides new outlets and avenues for hotels to offer booking options an optimized CRS is necessary to tie the entire strategy together.Without an optimized CRS that can handle implementing and utilizing mobile apps, Facebook booking engines, inbound calls, reservations from the hotel’s site and reservations from OTAs the reservation strategy would be fragmented and opportunities for increased revenue missed.ConclusionsThe hotelier and guest are more technologically savvy now than ever before. Internet usage is driving demand for high quality content by the end user.Today, a guest expects a hotel to provide an online, easy to use, and secure booking solution.When hotelier implements new technologies, like integrating a Facebook booking interface and a mobile app into an optimized CRS, the reservation revenue will also grow.NB: This is a guest post by Kristin Intress, CEO of InnLink.