Independent hoteliers must improve their online marketing efforts, particularly for mini breaks, or face a continued loss of business to larger operators, an internet expert has warned.
The warning comes after online bookings agent Laterooms.com revealed research which showed a surge of bookings for European weekend breaks as UK hoteliers saw a decline in UK coastal breaks.
Chris Allen, chief executive at Laterooms.com, told Caterer: "We have always championed the corner of the independent operator but there is no way they can all access the internet. They do not have the firepower to get the hits on Google and take market share from the big boys. Just creating your own website is not the be all and end all."
But David Weston, chairman of the Bed and Breakfast Association, said his members were seeing strong booking levels coming to them online as customers eschewed agent bookings and went to B&Bs direct.
"The advantage of being online is that it is a great leveller," he said. "People can find a small B&B directly, quickly and easily. People who find B&Bs] over search engines do not tend to make the booking online: they phone or e-mail instead. It means you can have reasonable occupancy rates without paying anyone any commission."
By Christopher Walton
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