Friday, September 26, 2008

The November issue and the Internets

I think many of you are going to enjoy what we at Hotel & Motel Management have coming up in our Nov. 3 issue. Along with our annual General Managers survey that will tell us where GMs stand on salary, time off, industry issues and more, we are doing a series of stories on how the Internet is affecting the hotel industry—social networking, rating services, distribution, advertising, etc.

It's hard to understand just how big of a topic it is until you get into it. For example, I've only been here since June, but in that time, I've found it pretty easy to get industry sources for my stories—whether the topic was bed bug removal or transaction volume. Sure, actually getting a set interview time can be a hassle, but I can always identify whom I should talk to, whether it's an F&B director, a GM or the director of housecleaning.

But when it comes to discussing a hotel's online presence? There are brands that have dozens of people, all with different titles, all handling different aspects of an online plan. One public relations person had to get back to me several times in order to narrow down my topic enough so that she could help me find the proper person to speak with. Even she was surprised by the depths of her company's eCommerce world. When I tried to narrow the story down, it felt like my original concept wasn't really one story but more like two or three. No doubt the Internet has improved and streamlined much of the industry, but think of all the new jobs that now need to be filled just for this area; think of all the internal changes the Internet has forced within just one brand in the span of a decade.

I had no idea the hotel industry was this deep into the web world, and it looks like it's going to still get much deeper in the coming years. The topic is big and interesting, and I think our Nov. 3 issue will be as well.

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