Booking engines are frequently cited as essential for hotels in today’s competitive hospitality environment and we do indeed regularly recommend them for properties of all sizes.
After all, an automated system that takes bookings for you and is active 24 hours a day, even when your reception staff have gone home, can surely only be beneficial for the bottom line. However, with so many product offerings on the market and a variety of different price points, how do you know which one to choose? How can you be sure you’re not wasting your money – or on the other hand, not spending enough? Largely, it is going to be down to research and checking up on which booking engines meet your needs. But if you need a starting point and some basic advice to go on before you start investigating, here are a few pointers.How will you pay? Online Booking engine software can be paid for in a number of ways, but the most common are either commission-based or those with a monthly fee.
With the former, you might have to hand over between ten and 25 per cent each time someone uses the product to make a booking. Not only is this costly, but it might also mean you’re paying commission for reservations made by returning guests – and there’s a chance they may have come back to you anyway. We’d recommend going for a monthly subscription at a rate that fits in with your budget. Don’t forget that some products may be more expensive the higher the number of rooms you have to offer, as your property will be more complex to manage.A user-friendly design Not only does your booking engine need to be simple for your staff to use, but it also needs to be intuitive for paying guests too, otherwise they’ll abandon their bookings and go elsewhere. Before you buy, find out exactly what the software looks like as it’s being used – and if you don’t like it, try something else.
How is inventory managed? Good booking engines shouldn’t just be a glorified list of your products, but instead should be able to provide itemised inventories at the touch of a button. What’s more, you should be able to log in and update that inventory without records getting messed up, as well as the software automatically adjusting itself each time a reservation is made.Does it integrate with other tools? As a busy hotel marketer, you need the convenience of your booking engine being able to integrate with the other tools you use on a regular basis, whether that’s your social media portals or accounting software. Ensure the products you’re looking at can support such plug-ins, or you may find you’re creating more work for yourself.Will I have support? Although your software should be easy to use and will hopefully come with built-in tutorials, you never know when you’re going to encounter problems that you need help with. That’s why it’s a good idea to look for a price point that includes customer support that can be accessed at whatever time of day you need it – beware of hidden charges for this kind of thing though.Will you still own your data?
Another important thing to consider is data ownership should you wish to leave your contract with a booking engine provider. Some products are unable to export information, meaning that valuable data will be effectively lost once you no longer have log-in details. Also, some unscrupulous providers may have the right to sell your information to third parties, so watch out for this in the small print. You need a booking engine that keeps the data as yours and can pass it on if you leave.
As you can see, not all booking engines are created equal. For a great product that’s easy, intuitive and integrated as well as fully customisable end to end, check out Booking Direct from World Hotel Marketing.