We recently released our latest report in the Skift Trends series, Evolution of Online Reputation Management.

Below is an extract. Get the full report here to get ahead of this trend.

Perhaps no segment of the hospitality vertical feels the pressure of the online marketplace more directly than that of the independent hotelier.

Even the prospect of penetrating upper-level search results can be a daunting prospect for the travel supplier operating a single property in a region. Discounting room rates to compete with at-volume players in the big chains cuts into independent hotels’ revenue. Increasingly, finding consumers who will book with an independent is significantly about online reputation.

“This is still an area that I think needs to evolve a bit more,” says Fig Cakar, managing director for the Americas, at SiteMinder, which creates channel management, direct booking, and flat-rate global-distribution-system solutions for hotels of all types and sizes). 12 “Again, the biggest question, here, is that of finances. Does the independent hotel have the budget to make it work? A hotel in a tertiary market, three stars, that takes in an average rate of $95 a night, how do they compete in that space?”

Key to growth, Cakar says, are platforms or third-party tools that can provide independent hotels a better and affordable way to access and manage social media across channels — and within channels not always considered the traditional and typical players (the Facebooks and Twitters of the world).

“We recognize them,” says Shah, at TripAdvisor, regarding the horizon for independents and the ORM Space. “Our Review Express product has worked with expanding and giving independent hotels access to this kind of content. One thing we’re really thinking about is how that smaller independent hotel, one that may not have that big a budget, can work on scale with this as well.

“It’s definitely growing,” Shah continues. “The complexity of thinking about all the different kinds of integration points can be quite a lot, but I think there’s a lot of focus around making this process easier, and it will really help the independent hotels.”