Mom and Pop Hotels In Emerging Markets Tap Into Online Marketing

World Hotel Link

Private Sector Development Blog has a good post about World Hotel Link, a concept where small hoteliers in emerging markets use the internet to provide accomodations to first world travelers.

The idea was that independent travellers in rich countries can connect to people owning bed and breakfasts and small hotels in emerging markets and make bookings directly. The kinds of places you’d never find on Expedia or Travelocity. Many of the accommodation providers had no access to the Internet. So the booking would come in by email and then the “last mile” would be covered by someone on a bicycle.

This is a beautiful idea because leisure travelers are always looking for unique experiences and this website allows them to discover accomodations that are off the main drag. Small hotels benefit because they get to tap the power of the internet to market themselves to a big pool of potential customers from the first world.

In addition, the Worldhotel Link is promoting sustainable tourism:

Finally, we aspire to connecting responsible travellers with accommodation providers committed to building a sustainable future for their business and their destination. We have created a means for acommodation providers to learn about how to differentiate their properties by adopting sustainable tourism initiatives (see here) and provided a number of sustainable tourism case studies.

The risks this hotel booking site face are not that different from traditional online travel agencies. For example, misrepresentation by hotels could lead to bad customer experience and lack of trust in the website. However, the good news is that the Worldhotel Link can learn from the experiences of traditional online travel agencies and institute functionality like ratings and feedback which will make them feel much better about their travel plans.

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