Why big chain hotels in the U.S. have the edge on creating digital brands


Feb 12, 2013 12:09 pm

Skift Take

Although the Internet does spread the word on quaint B&Bs, chains like the Four Seasons and Marriott forever have the advantage of holding enough resources to experiment online, and the experience to avoid hucksters selling 360 photo galleries and other dubious digital features.

— Samantha Shankman

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Does the city where a hotel is headquartered have an impact on its digital presence?

This question was raised by theĀ L2 Think Tank when it found that hotels headquartered in New York, Los Angeles, and London had significantly higher digital IQs than those located in Manila, Seoul, and Hong Kong.

L2’s digital IQ ranks hotel brands on the effectiveness of their website, the success of their digital marketing, their website’s mobile functionality, and their social media presence.
L2 Think Tank Map
A strong digital presence is critical to a hotel’s success today with 92 percent of travelers now booking online. It would make sense then that hotels located in innovative, tech hubs have the greatest potential of tapping into the power of the Internet.

There is; however, another factor as significant as location as to why North American brands continue to outperform others on the digital playing field.

The hotel brands headquartered in North America perform significantly better than those in Asia and Europe due to the type of hotel that originates in each location. Mega-brands and chain hotels are often located in the U.S. while smaller, independent hotels are located in Asia and Europe.

These mega-brands have significantly more capital and resources to allocate to technology and developing a digital presence. For many hotels, spending their few resources to develop their Internet strategy is equivalent to a leap of faith.

“The level of commitment is substantial, and hurts in the short term,” says Maureen Mullen, L2’s Head of Research & Advisory.

This is why multi-brand organizations continue to outpace independent hoteliers on digital platforms.

Digital technology was expected to level the marketing playing field for hotels, but that’s proved to an utopian idea. The resources needed to create a digital presence are significant and ones that not all small, independent hotels have.

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