This article tells us that:
"Today, 8% of visits to Marriott.com result in bookings," Marriott writes. "We know we can raise that number and even a slight increase is worth many dollars." Future changes on the site will include adding more information about the company's brands, hotels, room rates and packages.(empahsis mine)
I am amazed that only eight percent use the site for bookings, but then I am an inveterate booker online.
Hmmm Stepping Stones
Could complimentary internet access (or the lack of) have something to do with it? Personally, even if I am 100% loyal to Marriott, I am less likely to book online from a hotel room if I have to pay to have broadband access. It's more practical to call the toll-free number.
Assuming that Marriott has the information, it would be interesting to compare the % of bookings that originate from IP addresses at Limited Service brands vs Full Service. My hunch is that the % of online bookings is proprotional to complimentary internet access.
At the risk of being presumptuous, herein lies the ROI of complimentary broadband access?
Alas some hotels (like the Marquis) charge a dollar for 800 access! It's not that easy to escape these kind of charges.
Another thought: what if the hotels start charging for making reservations over the phone as the airlines do? I am not advocating this idea, certainly.
I think another issue is that many large corporations require all hotels to be booked by the corporate travel department/ agency. I often use the Marriott website to determine my preferred hotel in an area, and then request our travel agency to book my room. I book all personal travel on the website.
I have to agree with Super on this, many if not all corporations make employees utilize corp. travel. Not only to get the discount on volume but also to know where thier employees are when they travel.
That is a direct result of 9/11, so many people utilized thier own booking ways and when family members call companies to locate thier loved ones and the company had no idea HR put this policy in place. It keeps track of people in time of crisis.
It will be a push to get above 10% based upon corporate travel policies and other rogue travel sites (expedia, hotel)
Another factor is in play if you are a government/military employee or traveling on a government contract for a private company: published per diem rates rule! Ther are times when going over can be justififed but in my experience this is a rarity. Marriott has been very generous in keeping a block of rooms for federal and state travelers but these, like all discounts, are capacity controlled--when the occupancy reaches a certain level most of the reduced rates are gone.