More often than not hotel accommodation and other hotel products are parts of a total tourist product, which covers, from the point of view of the tourist, the whole experience from the time he or she leaves home to the time they return. Airline seats and hotel beds may be seen as individual products by their suppliers but, as far as the tourist is concerned, they are only product components; for the tourist, what he or she buys is a composite product, an amalgam of attractions, transportation, accommodation, entertainment and other activities.
The amalgam or package the holidaymaker buys is seen most clearly within the case of inclusive tours, wherever the tour operator or another organizer brings along all the weather of a holiday, which the operator promotes and offers for sale as a single product at one inclusive price. However, all tourists buy packages, whether they use travel agents or not, and whether they buy the various components separately or as an inclusive tour, and this applies to holidays as well as to business trips.
This has important implications for hotel marketing, for increasingly hotel beds and other hotel facilities and services cannot be successfully marketed in isolation. They are supplied by many separate individual operators, each of whom provides only a part of what the tourist buys and often in relatively small quantities. We have seen earlier that for most hotel users hotel rooms are a means to an end and not an end in itself; they also normally need other means to an end, and their concern as consumers is the end rather than the means. In these circumstances it becomes increasingly important to realize that all suppliers, including hoteliers, are in the main serving to facilitate what is seen by the consumer as part of one overall tourist experience. It follows that the interests of all suppliers of facilities, including hoteliers, are more effectively served if they recognize their respective roles in and contributions to the total product, and if they organize their respective marketing efforts accordingly. This is not to say that they need to submerge their identities and integrate under one control. But it does mean that a great deal of promotion of independent individual hotels, transport and related companies may be less effective than coordinated efforts of those concerned with the promotion of the total tourist products.
Three types of coordination are required for effective marketing in travel and tourism, where components of the total product are provided by separate producers:
• at the destination it is the role of the official tourist organization to formulate and develop tourist products based on the destination and to promote them in appropriate markets;
• at the generating end it is the role of the tour operator to assemble component services into packages and to promote them and sell them as single products;
• it is the role of individual operators to formulate, develop and supply their products as parts of a total tourist product.
Just as it is necessary to question whether airlines are really in the business of selling seats in the air (a transport experience), it is necessary to question whether hotels are really in the business of selling rooms (an accommodation experience).