I first started developing websites in 2004. I loved the fact that for just a few dollars you could buy a domain and some hosting and start a website which could easily develop into a business. I did well enough that I ditched my 9-5 job travel while developing websites in around 2006. It was before the phrase ‘digital nomad’ became popular as it is now.
While traveling I met my wife in Indonesia, where I decided to settle down. As much as I love traveling, it also made me realize how I wanted to have a place where I could call home. We settled in Bali where we continue to live with our kids. Together, with my wife we started a small hotel in the north of Bali in 2011. It seemed like a good way to my yearning to settle in one place while being able to continue to meet people traveling around the world.
Even though it is a small hotel, like any business you need people to find you. This started my interest in online marketing for hotels and small businesses. One way to do this is to get links to your website and one way this can be done is to add your site to a directory. Hotelbeam was one of the first sites we joined. My wife got involved in real estate also so she used the ‘for sale’ section of the site to add hotels for sale. I was a bit surprised when I received an email in late 2018 that the site would be closing down.
The old site’s design was a bit old fashioned, but the site was functional and had thousands of hotels listed. I contacted the owner of the site in 2019 and we came to an agreement to buy the site, or at least the domain. I can’t help feeling a bit saddened to see a long running site closed down. I am hoping now to continue the site’s legacy.
When we first started our hotel, I built our website using Joomla and we did fairly well from people booking directly on our site and paying a deposit. Slowly we added more booking sites like Agoda, Airbnb and Booking.com. Unfortunately, these booking sites make up most of our bookings and we pay around 15-18% commissions. When you factor in taxes and other expenses, running a small hotel is not very profitable.
These days even if a hotel has their own website, it can be extremely difficult to find the hotel’s actual website. If you search on a hotel’s name, you will get at least a page or two of links to booking websites. While I am certainly not against online travel agents and the service they provide, I would still like people to have more awareness of the fees they charge to hotels. It is one of the motivations for building a hotel directory, like Hotel Beam where guests can search for a hotel and find the hotel’s actual phone/email and website to hopefully book directly with the hotel.