Determinants and Impacts of Applying E- Marketing
in Muscat Hotels: Current Status and Future Trends
Dr. Mohammed Gamil Montasser
Assistant Professor of Hotel Management and Marketing, Oman Tourism College,
DIT affiliation, Oman.
Dr. Rehab Yassin Zoweil
Senior Lecturer of Tourism Management, Arab Academy for Science and Technology,
Alexandria, Egypt.
However Electronic Marketing (E-Marketing) is still a relatively new concept,
particularly for tourism and hospitality organizations operating in developing
countries that have limited resources and infrastructure, fierce competition and
cannot afford to make unwise investments or wrong decisions.
Therefore, there is a need to have a much clearer understanding of
e-marketing implementation, problems as well as its opportunities for such
organizations; and how these technologies can be used to carry out the
organization marketing activities and processes in a more effective and efficient
way rather than reliance on traditional marketing practices.
E-marketing includes all electronic data and applications used for the
marketing of a firm’s products, such as customer profile and marketing mix
information, and their strategic use to increase volume of sales or reduce
marketing costs.
Due to increasing inbound tourist arrivals and growing regional competition,
Muscat hotels’ operators need to adopt and implement creative marketing tools.
Therefore, this study explores the role of e-marketing strategies and e-distribution
channels in Muscat hotels.
Despite the exponential growth of e-marketing, little is still known about its
application and effectiveness in Muscat hotels, therefore, this exploratory study
aims to fill in this gap.
E-marketing can be viewed as a new philosophy and a modern business
practice involved with marketing of goods, services, information and ideas via
the internet and other electronic means.
Website marketing is particularly useful for dealing with intangible nature of
the hotel service, and to gain a competitive advantage.
The website content allows hotels to engage customers’ interest and
participation, to capture information about their preferences, and to use that
information to provide personalized services.
E-marketing tools have many advantages for tourism and hospitality
organizations such as;
communicate directly with customers and the ability for all businesses of all sizes
to build competitive advantage,
allowing hospitality firms to reach out to potential clients in the quickest and
most effective way,
increasing worldwide visibility and accessibility,
enabling, facilitating, sustain and rewarding interaction between consumers
and hoteliers, customers can search and purchase their preferred products and
services without any geographical or time constraints,
In addition, customers can easily arrange for their own tailor-made
products or services, enables the suppliers to better understand their
customers’ needs, suppliers can enjoy the benefits of lower distribution
costs, a fairer competitive environment for businesses with different
backgrounds and it creates a level playing field for hotels where size is no
longer apparent better revenues.
This research paper examines the adoption of e-marketing by hotels. Issues
such as awareness and general policy of e-marketing activities; pre-sale
information and communication with online customers; various ways of
transactions; post-sale communication and enhancing the hotel’s e-image and
the electronic customer relationships; and general image of application of emarketing were addressed and are reported on.
In addition, a review of the literature on e-marketing tools adoption and
usage reveals that most of the extant studies limit themselves to only
understanding the current nature of e-marketing tools adoption and usage
without providing insights into the future usage patterns of e-marketing
applications, which is an equally critical issue to help hotels make informed
Research Objectives
This empirical study aims to achieve the following objectives:
Studying and discussing the objectives, characteristics, components, and
approaches of applying e-marketing.
Deciding upon the level of application of e-marketing procedures in
Muscat hotels.
Investigating the relationship between the application of
Awareness/General-Policy-related procedures, and the procedures of
other phases.
Investigating current business-related concerns and obstacles that
Muscat hotel’ managers undergo when applying e-marketing, both
currently and in the future.
Examining the difference between Muscat hotels’ grade; four versus
five-star hotels, regarding the application of e-marketing and its relevant
Developing practical implications concerning the most fruitful
implementation of e-marketing; identifying areas of improvement and
future trends, both achieving marketing and financial success for
independent hotels, and attaining mutual welfare for the Omani
hospitality industry as a whole.
Research Questions
What is the current status, and relevant implications, of the level of
application of e-marketing procedures in Muscat hotels, across the
following phases: a. Awareness and general policy? b. Pre-sale
information and communication? c. Customer transaction? d. Post-sale
communication and enhancing e-image and e-relationships?
What is the relationship between the application of Awareness/
General-Policy-related procedures, and the procedures of other phases?
Is there a significant variance between hotels with different grade
concerning the level of application of e-marketing procedures?
What are the current and future business-related concerns and
obstacles that Muscat hotels’ managers undergo when applying emarketing?
The internet had become an integral part of the tourism information system,
affecting final purchase decisions by acting as a portal of information for tourism
businesses. It is concluded by many authors and practitioners that those
hospitality establishments who opted not to use the World Wide Web were
likely losing an important competitive advantage. Therefore, the rapid adoption
of Internet marketing by hotels has yielded myriad studies of hospitality Internet
adoption and its impact on hotel operation .
Many studies discussed the current stand of and potential role of internet in
marketing and promoting tourism destinations . This progress is also apparent in
studies further considering hotel website dimensions and attributes and their effect
on the perceptions of online browsers and purchasers. Moreover, other studies
intended to analyze the usage of e-marketing applications in the tourism and
hospitality industry.
Research Methodology
After demonstrating, throughout the literature review, different principles
and procedures of e-marketing in hotels, it is vital to supplement the
theoretical part by conducting the field study. The topic of this research has
not been studied before in the GCC region’s destination markets, in addition to
the fact that aspects and dimensions of interest have not been scrutinized.
Consequently, this study has been determined to be exploratory; namely,
investigating current status and future trends of applying e-marketing in
Muscat hotels, in the hope to be a launching point for more comprehensive,
in-depth studies.
This exploratory aim has been attainable by inquiring about e-marketing
procedures, derived from the literature review. It was noted that, for
e-marketing procedures to be effectively applied, those procedures are better
categorized into the aforementioned four main areas or phases. In addition,
managers’ further opinions and thoughts have been scrutinized through
addressing open-ended question concerning the overall context and perceived
barriers of applying e-marketing, both current and future aspects.
Research Methodology
Moreover, in order to gain the whole image, it was also derived that
the profile of the hotel is believed to have relationship to the application of
e-marketing procedures. The profile characteristics that were seemed to be
the most effective are the hotel grade; four versus five-star hotels; the hotel
affiliation, independently versus chain-managed, and the number of rooms.
Population Sampling
The population frame is all the four and five-star hotels in Muscat. They
were chosen since they, unlike lower grades, enjoy a mostly above average
occupancy percentage and high business volumes, in addition to having several
varieties of sales outlets. This increases the probability that these hotels might
be in need for an efficient e-marketing plan, or at least a definite set of
Data collection technique
This assures that the efforts done throughout the field study will not be
in vain, and will produce meaningful results in response to research
questions. Data have been collected using the survey research, in which
a questionnaire has been used to collect data. Data was collected from hotel
marketing, sales, and reservation managers.
Results discussion and implications
Hotels’ profile characteristics
Discussion and implications of descriptive analysis
Awareness and general policy
Pre-sale information and communication
Post-sale communication and enhancing e-image and e-relationship
Discussion and implications of inferential analysis
Discussion and implications of contingency analysis
Discussion and implication of the general image of e-marketing
Through reviewing the medians, it is clearly noted that those procedures
are most frequently applied in 5-star hotels than in 4-star hotels. Additional
analysis indicated that all 5-star hotels were chain- affiliated hotels. It is
important to note that chain hotels have the privilege of their chain’s
accumulated, worldwide experience. They are usually vigilant to recruit the
best qualification in the labor market, have their own compact policies and
standard operating procedures, own necessary funds, and are thus able to
better apply e-marketing procedures.
Reviewing listed procedures further supports this inference. They are
precise procedures that reveals keen follow-up and in-depth interest in
e-marketing, which is not usually obtainable unless in 5-star, chain-affiliated
hotels. The statistical analysis shows specific e-marketing procedures that
were found to bear a significant relationship, along with the values of median
of application in 5 and 4 star hotels in Muscat.
Through reviewing the median values, it is clearly noted that those
procedures are most frequently applied in 5 star hotels than in 4 star hotels.
Additional analysis indicated that all 5 star hotels were chain-affiliated hotels.
It is important to note that chain hotels have the privilege of their chain’s
accumulated, worldwide experience, have their own compact policies and
highly standard operating procedures, own necessary funds and are thus
able to better apply e-marketing procedures in their properties. Reviewing
listed procedures further supports this inference. They are precise
procedures that reveal keen follow-up and in-depth interest in e-marketing
practices, which is not usually obtainable unless in 5 star, chain affiliated
The most effective tool of e-marketing currently applied in the hotel:
Managers’ responses reinforced the previously deduced implications. That is,
most managers reported that the most effective tools of e-marketing currently
applied in their hotels are just the website, and online channels, such as the
GDSs, while a few managers spotted promotional SMSs and emails.
E-marketing tools managers would like to be applied: Moreover, reported as
potential e-marketing tools, managers have chosen utilizing online channels,
promotional SMSs and emails, and using the guest history database as
a launching point for customized and personalized e-promotional campaigns..
This coincides with the values of the percentages for managers’ responses
shown in the attached questionnaire form. Utilizing promotional SMSs and
emails, in addition to relevant procedures, were the least applied among
e-marketing practices. It was also deduced that hotels are satisfied with
limited their e-marketing efforts to having a website, and utilizing online
channels, such as GDSs. Deciding upon e-marketing vs. traditional marketing
as being currently more effective: Eleven, out of sixteen, managers admitted
that traditional marketing tools and techniques are currently more effective
for their hotels.
Surprisingly, only three of them believed that expanding e-marketing can
benefit their operations, emphasizing the lack of awareness of its potential
role. Barriers preventing current and future expansion of e-marketing
application: Barriers were reported to be almost the same. They have been
perceived to be lack of awareness of themselves, of owners of
independently managed hotels, in addition to of some guests, particularly
the segments of corporate business and travel agents, which were reported
to prefer personal contact. The findings of this research, when correlated to
the review of literature, raised major recommendations that have to be
directed to e-marketing practitioners, to further researching efforts, and to
the academia.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Field study revealed that most e-marketing procedures have not been applied,
application of Awareness/General-Policy-related procedures helps better apply
procedures in other phases, and that 5-star hotels apply e-marketing partially better
than 4-star hotels.
Further managers’ opinions and thoughts have been sought, concerning
the overall context and perceived barriers of applying e-marketing, both
current and future aspects. Finally, best e-marketing practices are identified,
and a simplified strategy for developing an effective e-marketing mix is
The following, step-by-step tips should help managers best apply e-marketing;
(1) Having a comprehensive e-business plan, involving; identifying the internet market
by researching what people are searching for in Muscat on the internet, either locally,
or internationally, using offline and online methodologies to determine which factors
are bringing visitors to Muscat, following up on customers’ e-satisfaction and deciding
on the most appropriate techniques of dissemination of e-marketing related
information; (2) Designing a high-quality, rich e-content that addresses the needs of
customers, such as unique specials and packages, event-related getaways, seasonal
promotions, bundling local attractions and activities as part of hotel packages, and
launching other one-to-one marketing initiatives to provide unique value and
personalization, whether it is the brand site, the hotel website, GDS, or even SMS and
email marketing campaigns;
3) Supporting the hotels’ e-existence and powerful presence, whereby the hotel
is listed wherever customers are going and looking by using online channels,
exploiting creative e-advertising tools such as the social media (Facebook and
Twitter) and initiating promotional campaigns through email and SMSs;
(4) Supporting hotels’ websites with attractive, sufficient information and graphics
about the hotel’s services and outlets; (5) Tracking the results of all e-marketing
efforts and campaigns in order to evaluate the feasibility of e-marketing efforts and
costs incurred; (6) Regular checking of the status of the other two parties
in business; competitors and guests; Finally, (7) Independent hotels’ owners and top
management are advised to take the extra mile, conducting a thorough feasibility
study of the potential of e-marketing, and the corresponding costs to be incurred.
More research is needed to test more variables, obstacles, and profile
characteristics. Further, the present research has drawn responses from
managers. Further research attempts should aim at investigating those
variables, and others, surveying hotel guests. Researchers are encouraged to
attempt to develop a standardized instrument for measuring, and determining
interrelated variables, concerning the application of e-marketing.
Finally, further research endeavors should be directed to investigating
the application of e-marketing for the
3 star and apartment hotels, in
response to the growing international trend of preferring economic lodging.
Thank you

Dr. Mohammad Jamil - Determinants and Impacts of Applying E