Social businesses help local Albanian tourism entrepreneurs cross the digital divide. Now, hotel websites and online booking services are available to virtually everyone.
Online PR News – 09-September-2010 – – Tourism in Albania has been rising steadily in the past decade, yet few resources are available for small-scale business to ensure an even and sustainable growth. Socially-minded businesses are taking the
initiative. Sustainable tour operator Outdoor Albania has been fostering a relationship with World
Hotel Link, an internet platform that provides online booking services to tourism MSMEs (micro,
small and mid-sized enterprises) through its online listing sites and hotel website development.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, 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.
Through its “market place operators” such as Outdoor Albania around the globe, World Hotel
Link aims to bridge the 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.
“We are promoting the “real” Albania, and we are looking for small family- run hotels,
guesthouses or sustainable hotels which are interested in a free 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.
To see how the accommodation listings appear online, visit the three destination websites at
www.travel-tirana.com, www.shkoder-albanian-alps.com and www.albanian-coast.com. To see
the Carku Guesthouse website, visit http://www.guesthouse-thethi-carku.com/