Establishing an online presence where guests can find, review and book a hotel is almost as important as the bed itself today. Once at a disadvantage, there are are now many tools that help small businesses owners implement basic digital business features.
As global hotel brands compete in an arms race to release Google Glass apps and mobile check-in apps, small and often family-run accommodations are working to implement more basic tools like online booking and email marketing.
A new study from Mastercard found that across more than 1,000 small-to-mid-sized businesses (one to 500 employees) in industries across Canada, Brazil, Germany and South Africa, nearly 90 percent have a online presence but only one in five offer consumers the option to buy products and services on an eCommerce site.
In comparison retail, service, and restaurant businesses, hospitality businesses are the most likely to have an eCommerce site to attract traveler and use e-mail marketing.
They were also found to invest a larger portion of their revenues on consumer-facing technology and back-office systems than other industries.
“The Internet is fundamental to business. Our potential customers come from the Internet and Facebook…the Internet is everyone,” says a Brazilian hospitality business owner with fewer than nine employees.
Brazilian merchants are 28 percent more than the survey average to believe technology is extremely important to business survival.
They also spend 13 percent more than the survey average on customer-facing technology such as point-of-sale systems, technology based marketing, or advertising as a percentage of their 2012 revenue.
A targeted look at hotels, lodging businesses, and travel agencies in Canada, Brazil, Germany and South Africa revealed several interesting trends, as outlined below:
- Desktop is the device that owners of all-sized businesses rely on the most to run their business. Laptop and store controller come next followed by smartphones and then tablets.
- Facebook is the most commonly used social media platform across all markets, except Germany, where business owners cite using review and rating sites more often than Facebook.
- The most commonly used kind of marketing is email marketing across all locations. Social media, direct mail and newspaper advertising also ranked high across the board highlighting a mix of traditional and digital marketing channels.
- Lack of knowhow and data security concerns are the two primary barriers to businesses’ adoption of new technologies.
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Photo credit: A guest room of a 'Pousada', the brazilian name for small family hotels where normally the owners are the hosts. This one is in Florianópolis, Santa Catarina. Getty Images