When you hear the word “e-commerce,” you likely think of online retail sites, right? Stores like Amazon, who offer products of all kinds with exemplary delivery services?  

Stop right there – if you’re in the hospitality industry, and you’re still thinking of e-commerce solely in these terms, think again. E-commerce can work wonders for B2B hospitality.

Whether you’re a restaurant, hotel, or tourist attraction, your website must have e-commerce capabilities, especially for group bookings and business offerings. That’s why, as a B2B hotel or company, it’s time for you to start viewing e-commerce marketing tactics as essentials. 

The manner in which people book group travel and business events has changed dramatically. Roughly 68 percent of the B2B buying cycle is completely anonymous – before you have the chance to speak to the prospect. With more and more hotel marketing being done online, it’s time to learn to drive direct bookings to your website.

In this article, we’ll dive into why e-commerce is not just a luxury for businesses like yours. At the same time, we’ll provide you with some guidance for taking your B2B hotel marketing ideas to the next level.

The Impact of E-Commerce on B2B Hospitality Marketing

b2b hospitality sales

Image Source: Amara Marketing

Did you know that online travel bookings are expected to hit $817 billion by 2020? 

The plain truth is that people are increasingly booking their hotel rooms, reservations, tours, and other travel activities via technology – and that means e-commerce is huge for hospitality businesses.

Even if your business mostly receives large bookings through third-party sites like Cvent or Wedding Wire, it’s still important for you to understand the overall “revolution” of hospitality e-commerce.

One of the biggest impacts on hotel marketing strategies is the average tech-savvy, plugged-in millennial. According to Merit’s report, up to 73 percent of B2B buyers fall within this age range, and they prefer to do things online rather than by phone or in person.

If we’re going to assume that at least three-quarters of B2B hospitality customers are choosing to book online, then travel companies have no choice but to improve and simplify their online shopping experiences.

Now’s the time to focus on creating a seamless transaction/reservation process for your company. It doesn’t matter what kind of hospitality business you’re in – online bookings are the present and future of hotel marketing.

RELATED: How to Increase Hotel Group Sales with Expert Timing

How Have Buyers Changed Their Ways?

We just talked about millennials and how they’re changing the way we book travel, but let’s take an even deeper look into what’s driving global online travel sales so dramatically.

b2b hospitality salesImage Source: SaleCycle

Our travel needs and behaviors as a society are evolving. People are focusing on bigger concepts, not just taking a relaxing vacation every once in a while. Popular topics affecting online travel sales include:

  Environmental responsibility

  Cultural explorations


  Health and wellness

At the same time, the ways we are booking hospitality purchases are changing. We’re using cellphones, laptops, tablets, and desktop computers to do our research and eventually complete bookings.

Wondering why you aren’t booking like you should be? Well, there’s a good chance that your hospitality B2B site isn’t optimized for e-commerce bookings, nor is it playing on the right topics and influences of the new decade.

If you ask us, the coming years will see travelers who are more than willing to use technology for every aspect of their decision-making process. They’ll research environmentally-friendly hotels on their smartphone. They’ll book their next wellness vacation via a tablet at work. They will fully embrace the features, function and easability that technology has to offer.

What Your B2B Company Needs to Succeed

There are a handful of things that every B2B company needs in order to do well with e-commerce. Let’s talk about the top four.

1. A Great Website

If you haven’t made any updates in some time, you’re likely facing a tired website that’s costing you a fortune. Unoptimized e-commerce websites cause you to miss out on bookings, wasting your time and money.

Today, people expect great things from hospitality B2B websites and hotel marketing efforts, such as:

  • Robust user experience
  • Image and video content
  • 24/7 chat capabilities
  • Frequently asked questions
  • Blog and downloadable resources
  • Links to social channels

If you don’t have a “great” website in terms of today’s expectations and e-commerce capabilities, you’re likely stalling your ability to maximize conversions and revenue.

2. Strong Content

There was once a time when content was reserved for blogs, newspapers, and magazines. Today, that’s no longer the case – every hospitality B2B business should be producing and sharing its own quality content in order to attract online bookers.

b2b hospitality salesImage Source: Hotel Speak

If you’re new to the world of hospitality B2B content marketing, focus first on identifying your strategy. What do you need to adjust or develop in order to compete?

Secondly, focus on creating high-quality content, not churning out as many blog posts or emails as possible. You need content that is efficient and powerful, not words to fill up blank spots on your website.

3. Social Media Presence

This one is simple: every brand in every industry needs a social media presence. It helps build brand awareness and attract online followers. At the same time, having profiles on the right platforms increases your status in the world of e-commerce.

4. The Right E-Commerce Platform  

Last but not least, you need an e-commerce platform that reflects your hospitality business’s goals and offerings. There are many different platforms out there, but whichever one you choose, it should: 

  • Host your domain name and proper bandwidth
  • Meet PCI compliance
  • Offer great customer support
  • Have user-friendly themes/functions
  • Include abandoned cart recovery tools
  • Have basic e-commerce features like promotions, discounts, analytics, etc.

Bonus: most of the major website platforms offer tools for SEO and analytics, meaning you’ll be better off as you build a stronger online presence.

The Modern Process of Attracting New Customers

We already talked about how hospitality shoppers are changing their behaviors. Now, let’s talk about how you can target and attract these customers with modern techniques.

First things first: we recommend focusing on your website’s optimization. Have you looked into SEO services? PPC? Multi-channel advertising and content strategizing?

Trust us: there’s a whole pool of customers out there just waiting to stumble across your hospitality business. All you need to do is find the right online method for attracting them.

Another great tactic is to focus more on your guests than you do on becoming the hottest business on the block. Shiny websites and polished social media profiles are fine and dandy, but if your customers don’t feel you know them or care about them, you’ll flop.

To show your customers that you want to earn their trust, we recommend doing a few things:

  • Feature user-submitted/generated content
  • Allow honest guest testimonials on your homepage
  • Conduct surveys to ask for shoppers’ opinions
  • Provide exclusive content designed to help make their lives easier.

Lastly, to attract new customers in this modern age of e-commerce revolution, you need to show up on the right hospitality booking websites. Sites like TripAdvisor, Trivago, Kayak, can help build up credibility. 

Convenience, Convenience, Convenience 

Before you stop reading and get to work on your e-commerce optimization challenges, we want to talk to you about one of the most important aspects of online bookings: convenience. 

There’s a reason people want to book things online rather than calling or visiting in-person. It’s easy! They can do it from the palm of their hands anytime, anywhere. We live in a world where people can book travel 24/7, 365 days a year – and e-commerce plays a big role in that. 

If your website doesn’t allow for full accessibility, then you’re in for a world of trouble. You need a simple, uncluttered setup that gets people what they want when they want it – even at 3 AM on Christmas Day.

Speaking of convenience, remember: the more complex your B2B hotel booking system is, the less likely you are to score travelers. Remove friction by taking another look at your checkout process. Can you simplify it? Improve it? Make some parts of it painless and automatic?

In all honesty, e-commerce is spoiling us. We’re used to getting things on demand, which means that your hospitality business needs to get with the program and optimize for convenient, fast bookings.

As NPD analyst Bonnie Riggs said,

“Technology was supposed to make our lives easier. It’s just made things faster. Convenience and price will trump all.”

In Conclusion

To sum it all up, buyers expect more from hospitality B2B companies nowadays. They want information, reviews, booking capabilities, and more – all at their fingertips as soon as they demand it.

Need a little help moving past the fluff and getting your e-commerce site where it needs to be? Talk to our hotel marketing experts at Lure Agency. We are here to help B2B hotel companies like yours prepare for the future of online bookings and branding.