Many hotels and vacation rentals have recently focused on acquiring more direct bookings. Many objects have built a successful direct channel using the hotel reservation system and applying improved marketing and sales strategies.
In fact, direct bookings have been on the rise for some time – a 2019 Phocuswright study predicts a 50% increase compared to OTA bookings by 2022.
Essential Booking Engine Features
Before you search for the features you need and want, you must understand how much and how you want to pay for the service you want. The first vital pre-steps are determining your budget and how much you can invest in a positive ROI.
1. 24 hours a day availability
Your booking engine is your online store, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so visitors from anywhere can access and make a reservation. If bookings cannot be accepted automatically at all times, you lose revenue.
2. Flawless booking experience
Visitors to your website expect the booking process to be simple, convenient, and fast. Simplicity and clear steps are everything.
The most essential steps on the road to booking confirmation should be simple: date, room selection, and payment completion. According to Google, 77% of smartphone buyers are more likely to purchase if the billing process is as simple as possible, so avoid adding too many steps and options that confuse travelers and potential guests.
Your Booking Engine must be reliable regarding room availability and prices. You will avoid excessive bookings, price errors, and manual data transfer from one software to another. Other significant integrations include Google Analytics and social media add-ons.
4. Payment processing
The online payment gateway automates the booking process. Today, travelers prefer online credit card payments and instant booking confirmation. This process will also save you the time to manually charge for reservations or validate credit cards.
5. Adaptation to mobile devices
You need a Booking Engine that loads quickly and is fully optimized for mobile devices. Smartphones have changed the way we behave as consumers. We now expect equally simple and fast booking processes regardless of our device. According to Google statistics, mobile travel searches are on the rise year after year. You don’t want to miss out due to an inappropriate website and insufficiently flexible technology solution options.
6. Additional services and promo codes
Your website is the best place for your guests to book at special prices, use promo codes and buy additional services such as sightseeing tours, sports activities, or gastronomic offers. Booking Engine will be the best tool for generating higher revenues.
7. More currencies and more languages
Set up to attract the international market by allowing guests to make a reservation in their preferred language and make payments in the currency of their choice, because – why not?
8. Design and customization
Last but not least, choose a booking mechanism with customizable options. In addition to brand awareness, the look and feel of your website that extends well to the booking process will help ensure a seamless experience for your guests.
Since your website aims to inspire guests, choose a design with rich visuals to correctly display your rooms, amenities, and location.
8 Ways Hoteliers Use a Booking Engine To Grow
Booking Engine, also known as IBE or Internet Booking Engine, is an application or software whose primary function is collecting information about guest reservations through its website, social media or another direct channel.
What is the difference between a reservation system and a hotel reservation system?
Often used interchangeably, the terms Booking Engine and Property Management System can refer to the same solution.
The difference is that the Booking Engine refers to the application or software used to complete an online booking by processing the data entered by the guest. It can be used with integrated PMS to manage all bookings and guest details. On the other hand, the hotel reservation system refers to comprehensive software with many features that hotels use to drive a reservation, including modifying or canceling a reservation, adding costs, notes, split folios, and more.
The main advantage for hotels and everyone using the booking mechanism is to capture new bookings without commissions from third-party distribution channels, including OTA channels.
Guests can book at any time, from anywhere, and their credit cards can be charged immediately if there is an integrated billing gateway, but that’s not all:
1. Make direct sales
Direct sales and elimination of commissions significantly increase revenue and reduce the acquisition costs of guests. Booking Engine is indispensable in increasing direct sales by simplifying the process and turning the website into an online store available 24 hours a day.
While it is possible to maximize the growth of direct bookings through online advertising, social media campaigns, or loyalty programs, having your own hotel reservation system is a crucial difference. It will give you complete control over the booking process and your guests’ experience and make it easier for you to try out different price and revenue management strategies.
The direct booking channel is always a good (and profitable) idea.
2. Extra income
Guests are always on the lookout for ways to enhance their stay. On-site services (room upgrades, breakfast, spa treatments, etc.) and third-party services (tours and local activities) are important sources of revenue for all accommodation providers. Your own website is a great place to offer additional services to enhance your booking experience and make life easier for your guests.
3. Meet guest expectations
More travelers than ever decide to book directly. We already mentioned the Billboard effect, which occurs when guests discover the desired offer and accommodation listed on the OTA and then visit the website to make a reservation – directly. With so many choices available, many check twice before deciding. They expect a flawless booking experience and direct interaction with their choice.
The Booking Engine combined with your website helps you provide highly personalized service. Knowing your hotel, hostel or apartment target market, you can adapt by offering room types, suggestions for additional services or creating special packages.
Travel search engines allow users to compare the prices of various online travel agencies and the official websites of hotels, apartments, hostels, and campsites. The most prominent players in the metasearch include Google, TripAdvisor, Kayak, and Trivago. To stay competitive at the metasearch level, you must count on your Booking Engine to update prices and availability in real-time.
6. Your reservations, your conditions
Your website is your showcase where those interested can get inspiration, review the offer, and finally confirm their reservation without interruption by a third-party broker, reception, or sales team intervention. Your terms and conditions apply to cancellations, payments, and other policies. You can communicate with guests immediately and directly, without intermediaries.
Booking Engine & Key Hotel Management Tech
If you want to avoid using different service providers for all of the above tools, there is a suitable solution: choose a solution with built-in PMS, channel manager, and reservation mechanism that will guarantee real-time and trouble-free data flow ✌️
A centralized system with all the necessary tools will make your reservation management more agile and efficient. The guest can book a room using your booking mechanism, and payment will be processed immediately. Booking information will be delivered directly to your PMS, where automatic email confirmation of the booking can be launched. Your channel manager will update your sales channels in real-time.
A centralized system also means more accessible access to insights into data consolidated in one place. With accurate reports on daily transactions such as payments, revenue, market insights, and analytics, you can fully control your business and make informed business decisions based on data.