This article originally appeared in TravelMole Sustainable Travel News. Find the original article here. Sept. 2010
It also published in Ecoclub.com headlines. Find the article here. Sept. 2010
It also appeared in OnlinePRnews.com. Find the article here. Sept. 2010
It was picked up by Balkans.com business news. See the article here. Sept. 2010
It later appeared in the World Travel Market press page. See the article here. Nov. 2010
Outdoor Albania partners with World Hotel-LInk to offer online booking services to tourism SMEs.
Tourism in Albania has been rising steadily in the past decade, yet few resources are available to ensure that growth is equitable for all entrepreneurs. Socially-minded businesses are taking the initiative. Writes Cynthia Ord:
Sustainable tour operator Outdoor Albania has been fostering a relationship with World Hotel-Link, an internet platform that provides online booking services to tourism SMEs (small and mid-sized enterprises) through its online listing sites and hotel website development.
According to the UNWTO, one of the major trends in the tourism industry is “increased looking and booking online.” International travelers are increasingly using the internet to plan their holidays and book their accommodations.
For all tourism enterprises, this means that a strong presence online is more important than ever. Unfortunately, small-scale and mid-sized accommodations often lack the technological infrastructure needed to position themselves online and reach the global marketplace. They fall behind on the wrong side of the digital divide.
Through its “market place operators” such as Outdoor Albania around the globe, World Hotel-Link aims to bridge this technological gap between locally-owned accommodations and online consumers worldwide. Small business owners now have the opportunity to list their accommodation on a destination website, and they have the additional option of a high-quality hotel website in English with high results in search engines such as Google.
In Albania, World Hotel-Link’s destination websites cover three geographical regions: Shkoder and the North, Saranda and the Coast, and Tirana and the East.
In addition to listing accommodations and offering instant online booking services, these websites also contain a wealth of tourist information. They provide travelers with information about activities, restaurants, events, and transportation. Each site’s traffic has been increasing steadily, with an average of 3,093 total weekly page views during the months of July and August of 2010.
“We are promoting the “real” Albania, and we are looking for small family- run hotels, guesthouses or sustainable hotels which are interested in a listing of their accommodation on one of our websites.” says Laura Payne, co-founder of Outdoor Albania. “Our goal is to bring as much economical gain to small scale accommodations as possible. Together with WHL, we can create a win-win-win situation.”
One success story is family-run Carku Guesthouse, a micro-enterprise in the northern Albanian Alps. Through its listing on the Albanian Alps destination page and its WHL hotel website, the guesthouse secured numerous bookings during the summer 2010 season. Both the listing and the website offer an online booking option. Most importantly, Carku Guesthouse is findable to those who search for it online. When “Carku Guesthouse” is entered in a google search box, the destination site listing and the hotel website appear among the top five results.