April 16, 2009 / 2:36 PM / 8 years ago

Plugged-in hotels ring in more guests: poll

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Plugged-in hotels are likely to get the most guests checking in, with a global survey showing websites, and hi-tech facilities, are the top criteria travelers look for when picking a place to stay.

With 70 percent of travelers saying they would stay at a cheaper hotel due to the global economic slowdown, a Reuters Synovate survey of 6,300 people across 10 countries looked at how people choose their hotels and what features are important.

Nearly a third of guests said the number-one way they assess a hotel is via its website, followed by asking friends or colleagues, an approach particularly popular in Southeast Asia.

Some 17 percent, mainly Japanese, said they mainly use review websites, underscoring the importance of the Internet for the hospitality industry, global market researchers Synovate said.

"We see how vital an online presence is for hotels. Some of the larger hotel companies are now employing people to stay on top of important review sites. Even for smaller hotels, it cannot be ignored," Sheri Lambert, Synovate's U.S.-based senior vice president for Travel & Leisure research, said in a statement.

Nearly half those surveyed said they do a little research and a little comparison -- mainly online -- before making their choice, while one in 10 people said they pick the first hotel that comes across as "okay."

Overall, 47 percent of travelers make sure a hotel caters to their technology needs before they book it, the survey showed.

"It's now no longer an added feature to have wireless Internet in hotels. Travelers, whether for business or leisure, need to be connected," Lambert added.

For some guests -- one in 10 -- a hotel's green credentials were vital to having a pleasant stay, but for a third of those surveyed, toiletries are enough to make them happy.

"Most high-end hotels should - and do - make the absolute most of people's propensity to enjoy ample samples," Lambert said, adding that half of all American guests take toiletries.

"Linking the hotel brand to a luxury beauty brand helps create a certain lavish image in a guest's mind. Everyone wins: the hotel, the beauty brand and the happy guest."

The survey was conducted online, via telephone and by face-to-face interviews in January across 10 markets: Brazil, Canada, France, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.

Editing by Ian Geoghegan

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