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September 2006 Protects You and Your Guests

Security features to better protect you: You may have noticed some new graphics on lately. We have added additional safety features, so you and visitors to our site can feel secure entering information such as credit cards and email addresses.

The first new thing you'll notice on the home page is the HACKER SAFE® icon. HACKER SAFE sites help protect you from identity theft and credit card fraud. is tested and certified daily to pass the FBI/SANS Internet Security Test. The "live" HACKER SAFE mark appears only when a website's security meets the highest security scanning standards of the U.S. government, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover and JCB.

Another thing your guests might notice is a code picture on the reservation request page. We incorporated this picture to prevent automated bots from spamming our member innkeepers. Requiring a person to enter the code ensures that the person emailing you is, in fact, a real person and is not a spam machine.

"By the way, your site is SMOKIN’. I am forever getting great raves about you. I think the name and ideas that you have set forth are impressive. Good work!" -- Regan, Alexander's Inn, Hacienda Nicholas, The Madeleine Inn, Absolute Nirvana Spa and Tearoom


Travel Trends

Online travel spending reaches new high: comScore Networks recently reported its e-commerce sales estimates for the first six months of 2006 and forecasts for the entire year. “From January through June, total online spending by consumers totaled $80.8 billion, a 20.1% increase over the same period in 2005. Online travel spending reached $34.7 billion, marking a 14.7% gain. Overall, comScore forecasts that total online spending in 2006 will reach approximately $170 billion.”

United States is global leader in online travel expenditures: The States’ “leisure and non-corporate travel consumers will spend $122.4 billion by 2009, up from $64.9 billion last year, eMarketer projects in its new report, Online Travel Worldwide: A Mosaic of Separate Markets.

Build brand equity: The travel and leisure market must build brand equity with web savvy consumers, according to a recent national study by Guideline, Inc. This is despite the fact that more than a quarter of all leisure and unmanaged business travel was booked online in 2005 and is expected to grow to 35% in 2006.

Guideline’s business research analyst Jessica Hogue said that, “…more than 80% of consumers rely on online agencies like Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity for their travel research. This indicates significant opportunity for branded travel sites to win over the hearts of consumers to ultimately build brand equity.”

When it comes to the dollar amount of a vacation booked online:

  • 51% of luxury travelers are willing to book a $2,000 to $5,000 vacation package online
  • 29% are comfortable booking a $5,000 or more vacation package

Target the business person:
Almost 80% of small businesses shop online regularly, compared to 65% of online consumers, according to a report released recently by JupiterResearch.

Over 70% of small businesses who shop online purchase travel online; computer software and hardware also were popular categories, as was office furniture.

International travel to the U.S. on the rise:
International travelers to the U.S. increased by 6.7% in 2005, according to research from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. During 2004 and 2005 international travelers to the U.S. increased by 20.3%, the largest two-year increase since 1996, but below 2000 and 2001 levels, the firm found.

After a time of decline, some factors that led to the recovery of international travelers include:

  • The dollar remains weak relative to most currencies and is forecast to continue modest declines through 2007, which will encourage increases in international travelers.
  • The Department of Commerce has initiated marketing activities to increase awareness and develop a positive image of the United States as a tourism destination.
  • In 2000, international guest room nights accounted for 12.8% of total U.S. lodging demand. That share declined to a low of 9.5% in 2003. As of year-end 2005, the share of international guest room nights had increased to 10.3% of U.S. lodging demand.

Effect of gas prices: Nearly 25% of households said high gas prices are having no impact on their spending, according to BIGresearch August Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey. “But when broken into income groups, 30% of those making more than $50K per year reported no major impact, compared to only 22% of consumers making less than $50K per year.”

“81% of consumers in the under $50K group felt they are the same or worse off financially than this time last year, and are making significant changes; 78% who make over $50K+ felt they were the same or better off financially than last year.”

Some of the changes consumers are making:

  • Reduce dining out (37%)
  • Decrease vacation/travel (37%)
  • Driving less (43%)

Hotel customer loyalty on the rise: Although some in the hospitality industry are concerned the increase in online booking will lead to a decrease in customer loyalty, hotel customer loyalty has steadily increased each year since 2002. “Satisfying and retaining customers help hospitality companies recoup their customer acquisition costs, grow their revenues, reduce operating costs, generate referrals, and enjoy price premiums.”

“‘Online bookers tend to be more loyal among higher priced chains ($102 average rate) and less loyal among lower priced chains ($66 average rate). Guests of higher priced hotel chains are more loyal regardless of how they book their reservations. Among all online booking options, guests who book through the hotel or brand website are the most loyal (to that hotel or brand). Among offline methods, guests who book with central reservations display the most hotel loyalty, followed by those who book directly with the hotel. Travel agent bookings represent guests who make up the least loyal customer segment.”

Cater to women business travelers: In 2005, women accounted for approximately 43% of the business travelers, according to the Travel Industry of America. A recent New York University study identified the women business traveler as a “baby boomer with a college degree who earns over $75,000 per year.” That profile typically points to a sophisticated and discriminating traveler. And research confirms that women tend to have higher expectations than men when it comes to comfort, service, and security. So what are women business travelers looking for?

  • Security
  • A good night’s rest, i.e. decent mattress, pillow, and bed linens
  • Hair dryer, plenty of outlets for other hair tools, counter space for products
  • Good lighting for makeup
  • Clothes hangers, including skirt hangers
  • Good service. “A warm and attentive staff can make up for slight inconveniences and is one of the most important ingredients in building guest loyalty.”

U.S. lodging industry reports 9% RevPAR increase: “Industry occupancy reached 67% in the three months ending June 2006, up 1.2% versus second quarter 2005. Second quarter average room rate gained 7% to $97.02, and RevPAR increased 8% to $64.79.

“In the first half of 2006, industry occupancy improved 2%, to 64% versus same period prior year. Average room rate was up 7% to $96.56, and RevPAR gained 9% to $61.30. First half industry room supply increased 0.4% while demand (room nights sold) grew 2%. Room revenue grew 9% in the first six months of 2006 to $49 billion.”

More than 1,000 hotels will open in 2008 in U.S.: “Lodging Econometrics forecasts that 1,079 new hotels will open in 2008, having 131,517 rooms. It’s a 2.8% gross addition to supply, prior to any hotel removals from the census for conversion to other real estate usage.

“While projects under construction are 40% below the 1998 peak, 1,582 projects are scheduled to start construction in the next 12 months. For total openings in 2006, Hilton will open 32,089 newly constructed or reflagged rooms, InterContinental: 25,756, Marriott: 20,030, Choice: 17,714, and Starwood: 13,473 rooms.”

Smoking ban for competitive edge: Beginning this month, guests at the Marriott who smoke in the room could face a “cleanup fee” of up to $300, reports The Wall Street Journal. The hotel instituted a no-smoking ban in every room of its 2,300-plus hotels in the U.S. and Canada. Smoking will also be banned in public spaces. The policy will apply to all 10 of its brands, starting with the Ritz-Carlton chain right down to the extended-stay Residence Inn. Although 90% of the chain’s rooms are already non-smoking, the ban is an attempt to gain a competitive edge by eliminating complaints about cigarette smoke. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide in January barred smoking at its 77 upscale Westin brand hotels.

Americans use high-speed: According to new consumer research from Leichtman Research Group, 69% of all U.S. households now subscribe to an online service at home, and high-speed Internet services now account for about 60% of all online subscribers.

This Month's Sponsor


Special offer!

Sign up for Online Reservations by October 27, and you'll get a free upgrade to the next membership level or a free secondary city listing, valid through the end of your membership. For details, email us or call 800-GO-B-AND-B, extension 4.


Internet Intensives, RezOvation and Expedia, Inc. are hitting the road to bring you comprehensive information about Internet marketing, online reservations, yield management, and property management software. Please join us for these workshops and for an Innkeepers' Appreciation Luncheon. Read more...

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