TEGUCIGALPA - The main challenges facing small hotels in Latin America and the Caribbean are access to technology and the global market, industry representatives said at a gathering in the Honduran capital.
The event, which is sponsored by the Inter-American and Caribbean Network of Small Hotels and has the backing of the Honduran government, brings together experts from Central and South America and the Caribbean.
Owners and representatives of small hotels are looking at strategies to remain competitive with the big international chains and how to improve their innovation and online marketing, Nicole Marrder, the network's president, told EFE at the gathering, known as the 3rd Inter-American and Caribbean Small Hotels Conference.
Small hotels in the region face challenges related to their quality of services and human resources, including the areas of professional training, foreign language proficiency and customer service, she said.
"Training is something small hotels must do all the time," Marrder said, adding that the improved promotion and marketing of small hotels in the Latin American region is a pending challenge.
The increased use of technology in small hotels will improve these businesses' competitiveness and sustainability, Marrder said.
"Technology is indispensable for communication and a tool for reaching out to the rest of the world" and promoting the array of services offered by the hospitality industry, she said.
She advocated creating a system for online reservations in which technology leads the way in standardizing procedures in small hotels.
Dina Nuņez, representative of Honduras' Association of Small Hotels, or Hopep, told EFE that another operational difficulty for this type of business is the lack of enough guestrooms due to credit restrictions or insufficient capital.
"Strategic alliances" among the different hotels also are necessary to improve the quality of the services they offer, Nuņez said.
"Our goal is to make small hotels the face of a country for visitors," Nuņez said, adding that these businesses should strive to become "a tourism encyclopedia" in the region.
Roughly 70 hotels with between five and 50 guestrooms and employing between two and 10 people operate in Honduras, Hopep figures show.
The conference ends on Thursday when representatives of international cooperation agencies will participate in a panel discussion on projects for the development of the Inter-American and Caribbean Network of Small Hotels.