Hotels have been an indispensible part of travel industry. The hospitality industry has seen many ups and downs since India got its independence. It started with hotels like Taj and Oberoi to serve British and Indian high class. Handful of hotels existed during independence which had only people with high income as their target customers. It was never seen as an industry which could play a crucial role in Indian economic development. In 1966 ITDC was created under Indian Companies Act 1956. A separate ministry was created for tourism in 1967 which paved way for development of Hotel Industry. Tourism was given a status of an “Industry” in 1986. This helped hotel industry in getting several incentives given by Indian government. Hotel industry started franchising which was another major leap towards development of this industry.
The Hotel industry has seen many changes recently. There used to be a time when hotel reservations were a domain of people like taxi drivers and agents. With advent of internet and information technology has changed the way reservations are done. Now customers compare and go through reviews by travelers before making a reservation at a particular hotel. There has been an exponential increase in number of players in hotel industry. Globalization is one of the main reasons for this surge. Other important reason is that people with property have started eying this industry as an easy source of income. With arrival of aggregators such as OYO rooms, BNB etc. the industry has become highly competitive. This has forced most of the hotels to come online. A hotel loses business drastically if it sticks to offline booking in current scenario. This has seen a rapid increase in the uses of hotel portals. Hotel portals are basically used by the travel operators or directly by the customers. It lists most of the hotels in the vicinity with the prices per night. Most of the hotel portals also display the ratings and reviews of the hotels which are mostly generated by the customers. These reviews help a consumer in making a choice from the long list of hotels which is a difficult task in itself.
Hotel portal has obviously helped the consumers but at the same time it has helped the hotels to a great extent by increasing their visibility. One may not know about a small hotel present in a non commercial locality but the same is made discoverable by the use of hotel portals. If the hotel lists itself on the hotel portal then it gets access to a larger customer base than it could have achieved being offline. It also gives hotels a means to do customer relationship management. Hotels can see the reviews that visiting customers post on the portals and act accordingly to improves their services. Thus it acts as a better feedback system than traditional ways of taking feedback.
Hotel portal development has become much easier now a days as the database of hotels have matured than what it used to be a few years back. With easy web designing capabilities and huge database the hotel portals that we see in current times are more robust, reliable and extensive. Hotel travel portals have helped hotels in reacting quickly to the changing market scenarios and keep the business going. A hotel can respond to decreased number of bookings immediately with discounted rates. The portal also helps a hotel in doing competitor analysis and thus keeping itself up to date with the competitors in the vicinity and their USPs.
Thus it can be said that travel portal is a milestone for travel industry which will never lose its sheen and its importance will only increase in time to come.