Distributing B&B accommodation in York, UK: Advantages and developments emerging through the Internet
Small and medium tourism enterprises (SMTEs) provide the majority of establishments within the European accommodation sector. SMTEs tend to offer a unique, locally owned and independent accommodation product, and hence have a unique character. This paper offers a comprehensive case study on the bed and breakfast (B&B) establishments in York, UK and demonstrates how they gradually take advantage of the Internet. Increasingly B&Bs incorporate the Internet in their marketing and distribution policies and aim to attract consumers from overseas and to compete with larger counterparts. A brief overview of the tourism industry in York demonstrates the importance of SMTEs whilst an analysis of the main distribution channels for local B&Bs is provided. Although guide books and the local Tourist Information Centres (TICs) have been the main primary and secondary sources of information about local B&Bs, there is evidence of a growing presence of the destination and B&Bs on the Internet. As the profile of independent travellers attracted at the area often matches the profile of Internet users, it is anticipated that the Internet will overtake printed guides for this market segment and will enable innovative B&Bs to attract a greater percentage of clientele.
This paper is based on primary research undertaken with 54 B&Bs in York, England. The methodology followed is compatible with research in Greece, France and Wales and thus results are comparable with previous research results. The paper demonstrates mat surprisingly most B&Bs in York are aware and have access to the Internet (79.6%), whilst a great percentage (61%) already receive part of their reservations through the Internet. This demonstrates a turning point as SMTEs start realising the emerging benefits of the Internet and develop their presence in the electronic marketplace. The primary research illustrates that whilst SMTEs can benefit from the Internet without possessing high levels of ITs knowledge, establishments with their own web page attract a higher number of visitors and have greater satisfaction levels. Amongst proprietors awareness of new threats and opportunities is high. A clear majority of respondents cite new budget/motel accommodation as a threat to the B&B, whilst acknowledging the growing importance of the Internet as a tool to compete with hotel chains and large counterparts.
KeywordsDistribution Channel Tourism Destination Electronic Marketplace Guide Book Tourist Information
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