For many years, small independent hotels suffered from a tilted marketing playing field, which was dominated by their big budget competition. During the recession, they had to contend with larger franchised hotels, many of which had lowered rates, placing further sales pressure on smaller hotels. In normal times, these larger hotels wouldn’t dream of competing with small independent ones.

To promote their hotels during lower demand periods, independent hotels have to compete with franchised hotels possessing a larger sales talent-base, GDS exposure, and much larger advertising budgets. The Internet is their only alternative.

The Internet has leveled the sales playing field, but many smaller hotels have yet to take advantage of it. The Internet is the great equalizer, but only if smaller independent hotels use it properly. Independent hotels with modest budgets can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their franchised neighbors if they learn to think big.

The return-on-investment, for even a modest Internet sales investment, is still fast with some careful planning and execution. An investment in site design and promotion need not be financially out-of-reach, if one shops around. There are many savvy independent website developers, with hotel marketing knowledge, who can build or modify your website within a modest monthly budget.

Beware of pretenders offering to design a beautiful site, more for their own egos and income, and more website than you need. The Internet is an advertising medium where content, good navigation, and ease-of-use counts much higher than its overall appearance.

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