There is no point in sugar-coating it. The hospitality industry, like any other industry today, has changed. The time of travel agents and over the counter reservations are long gone. Guests no longer want to get to the premises before seeing what you have to offer them. They want to experience your hotel brand from their location thousands of kilometres away and you better be ready to wow them.
Today, travellers have more options and that is why hotel managers and owners must leverage technology to outsmart their competitors. Thankfully, you have a hotel booking engine to the rescue. With reports showing that more than 50% of travellers prefer online booking for their accommodations, you sure have no choice but to be online. So, what’s this fuss about a hotel booking engine?
What is a hotel booking engine?
A hotel booking engine is simply a widget on a hotel’s website or social media channel that allows visitors to make reservations online. It allows for straightforward bookings with direct connection to the hotel’s Property Management System (PMS) which provides required data. These data will include available rooms at a specific time, payments methods and rates.
Without a doubt, a hotel booking engine helps the hotel to close more deals with little or no human effort. It has also shown to help maximize property’s sales strategy. The added advantage here is that hotels no longer have to rely on travel agents who request commission on each booking made. Hotels can keep and increase their ROI while having a direct connection with their guests from the onset.
How a hotel booking engine works
The workings of a hotel booking engine are simple but highly effective. Once your hotel’s website is up and running, you then install a widget onto it which allows your website to process secure online bookings. This widget is a hotel booking engine.
The collected data from your visitor’s input is then passed on to your property management system where your staff can access them and effectively manage your customers’ reservations. This also helps other channels to be notified of the changes and eradicate double booking.
While that is all well and good, there is more than a hotel booking engine offers. Say, a guest found you on social media. You don’t have to send them to your website before they make their reservations. A hotel booking engine can be easily integrated into your social media channel and give your guests comfortable rooms booking.
Why you need an online booking engine
It does not matter the size of your hotel, being visible online is compulsory to stay open and maintain a competitive advantage. Guests’ taste has increased and they now want hospitality in all forms and shapes. One of those forms is the outstanding user experience when making online bookings.
No thanks to top hotel chains using the latest hotel management software, guests now have high expectations. That means guests expect the same seamless experience from online booking engines as top booking sites.
So, why would you need an online booking engine for your hotel? Let’s find out.
- Seamless self-service
Travellers and guests do not want to spend a lot of time going from one page or site to another, calling a salesperson or writing emails simply because they want to make online reservations. A hotel booking engine lets them make online bookings without hassle. At the click of a button, guests can book rooms and go about their day.
- Fast booking process
Instantaneous room availability, types and up to date pricing is one reason to get your hotel a booking engine. Along with the fast-booking process, the opportunity to easily integrate special offers and promo codes to entice guests is one reason to embrace a hotel booking engine.
- Safe booking system
A typical hotel booking engine will also offer a fast and secure way to accept credit payments while safely storing your customers’ data. No doubt, you will have to rely on a trustworthy personalised data collection and secure payment system. And a hotel booking engine gives you that and more.
- Professional booking system
There is no other way around it, most guests will be vexed if they find out that they can’t make reservations on your website. And truth be told, you will lose them to your competitor, which is clearly a negative impact on your hotel revenue.
However, you can give your brand a professional look with a fully customizable system with a hotel booking engine.
- Direct booking perks
Because there are many booking channels available to guests now, it will only make sense to offer your visitors direct booking perks. Guests want something extra in return for making a direct booking. For instance, since a hotel booking engine lets you save 15% commission you would initially give travel agents, it only makes sense to offer an 8-10% discount to guests.
Features to look for in a hotel online booking system
You can expect several things from a hotel booking engine, but let’s look out for the most important features you can’t trade.
- Banner images
The last time you had a staggering experience on a website, what was one of the first things that struck you and inspired the reaction? We can bet it’s the large banner at the top of the page. And that exactly is one of the things your booking engine should allow you to do. A great banner image will help you improve how your page looks and ultimately, the customer experience.
- Number of images in the gallery
After putting your hotel rooms in order, how do you let your guests see them? You got it, images! Beautiful visuals are captivating and will help you generate conversions. The higher the number of images your hotel booking engine allows you to have in the gallery, the better.
- Facebook integration
Your guests shouldn’t be restricted to your website before they can make their booking if you are serious about increasing the conversation rate. Simply, your booking engine should allow you to include a CTA button on your Facebook page to make it easier for your guests to find your hotel and make bookings.
- Room type auto-optimization
A smart way to help close deals is to help your website visitors find what they are looking for quickly. The room type auto-optimization feature allows you to display rooms according to guests search criteria. This makes it quick and easy for them to make a reservation.
- Mobile friendly
It does not matter whether your guest or prospect is using a PC or a mobile phone. They ought to have a seamless experience on your page. Your hotel booking engine should take care of this, especially mobile devices as most guests will be accessing on mobile.
Other features you can expect from your hotel booking engine include promotion codes and a payment gateway.
Benefits of using a hotel booking engine for your hotel
Many benefits abound when you integrate a booking engine on your website and social media channels. The first benefit is that your property is easily bookable via your website. Your guests don’t need to meet you or call your sales personnel before booking their rooms.
With a hotel booking engine, you also get more bookings with zero commission since you no longer have to rely on travel agents. Because the booking engine is open 24/7, your guests can make bookings anytime and any day. This automatically increases your booking levels and lowers the cancellation rate.
With a hotel booking engine, you also get found with Google hotel ads, have flexibility on the promotion you offer and total control over your customers’ journey. Lastly, you can easily process payments.
Choose BookingNinjas for the best hotel booking engine experience
The best hotel booking engine you can find around is BookingNinjas. Our partnership with Salesforce means that we are always on our toes to provide a seamless experience for you and your guests. Get in touch today.