Rate flexibility is the biggest advantage derived from having your own website, according to hoteliers surveyed exclusively by Caterer.
Some 70% of respondents said that direct control over room rates was what they prized most about internet bookings, while 16% said the opportunity to use visuals and photos was the most important thing.
Only 9% saw their website as a way of winning new custom.
The survey, conducted in association with pan-European online travel service Opodo, also found that just over half of all respondents used third-party distributors for internet reservations.
However, hoteliers had different expectations of third-party websites. Some 28% looked to agents to raise their market share, 16% expected them to maximise yield rates and 5% were seeking to boost their brand identity. Half said they expected all three.
Our survey also revealed that 43% of respondents said that company websites accounted for 10% to 30% of bookings, while only 38% claimed they achieved the same rate of bookings via third-party distributors.
While 65% of respondents said they used a third-party distributor, 60% believed the big chains benefited the most from these channels. Only 31% and 25% respectively felt the same was true for independents and small chains.
\* In 2005 global hotel chains won more bookings from the internet than from travel agents for the first time, says electronic marketing firm TravelClick.
It found that 35.2% of central reservations bookings came from the internet, against 34.6% from global distribution systems run by travel agents and airlines, and 30.2% from call centres.
By Angela Frewin