What is a Booking Engine and why every hotel and holiday rental property should have one
What is a Booking Engine and why every hotel and holiday rental property should have one
07 February 2022

A Booking Engine is an essential tool for any hotelier, property owner or manager to receive direct bookings, optimise their revenue and increase profits. It is software that can be installed on any accommodation website, Facebook page or any other webpage. It allows customers to search available dates and make a direct reservation without using intermediaries such as booking.com or travel agencies. The familiar ‘Book Now’ button or the calendar search boxes are the discreet faces of the Booking Engine.

Today, more than 70% of hotel reservations are made online, making hotels extremely dependent on online travel portals. Whilst these portals help reach vast audiences, the commissions for such bookings can reach 20%, thus the efficiency and business sense of these expensive booking sources is highly questionable.

 

How a Booking Engine Works.

           

Different Booking Engines offer different ways of being installed or integrate within an accommodation website. There are standard solutions such as widgets and pre-created ‘Book Now’ buttons that do not require special programming knowledge and are installed quickly and easily within a few steps.

The Booking Engine is in most cases synchronised with a PMS (Property Management System) and all reservations received through the website are automatically loaded into the PMS via the Booking Engine.

Booking Engines can also be synchronised through a Channel Manager and this with all OTAs and portals the owner has chosen to work with.

Different Booking Engines also offer different functionalities, but the mandatory features are as follows:

  • Opportunity for the client to enter basic search parameters, such as date of accommodation and number of guests.
  • Search and display possible accommodation options and prices
  • Opportunity for the client to enter their data and complete a reservation
  • Confirmation of the reservation by e-mail, SMS, etc, most often after making payment online.

 

What to keep in mind when choosing a Booking Engine

Nowadays, there are a numerous companies that offer Booking Engine software. The capabilities of which vary from the provision of basic search and booking capabilities to extremely complex solutions with many built-in algorithms that turn an accommodation website into a mini portal of its own.

Here are some of the features that the best Booking Engines offer:

  • Opportunity for optimal presentation of each type of accommodation with the ability to display the varying and accompanying galleries along with corresponding detailed descriptions.
  • In the absence of an exact match, offering alternative dates and variations of accommodation to potentially suit the client.
  • Large number of language versions operating in major currencies
  • Various methods for online payments
  • Optimisation for correct display on mobile and tablet devices
  • Possibility for additional advertising functionalities such as pop-up banners, etc.
  • Possibility for up-selling of various extras, additional services, upgrade of rooms, etc.
  • Re-targeting of clients with unfinished reservations
  • Integration with social media
  • Promo codes and other opportunities for discounts and promotions in real time.
  • Statistics for the performance of the Booking Engine, embedding Google Analytics, etc

 

Why you need to use Booking Engine:

 

There are few reasons not to install a Booking Engine, it is simply far cheaper and fundamental for the growth of any accommodation based business. Here are some key reasons why:

 

  • Make your accommodation available for online reservations

Statistically, approximately 60% of clients view offers for hotels on online portals and then search for the hotel’s website directly before booking. If you allow customers the possibility of booking through your site, you will inevitably increase direct bookings and avoid paying high portal commissions in the process.

 

  • Take back control over your marketing and limit your dependence on online booking portals.

Working with different booking portals provides a unique opportunity to reach new audiences and advertise your offers, but at the same time limits your ability to maximise your booking revenue. By developing the capabilities of your own websites you can consider it your own marketing channel, the key benefits will improve your profits and allow you to regain control.

 

  • Pay less commissions

Reservations through your website cost you far less than commissions on online portals. Direct bookings will make a significant contribution to your profitability.

 

  • Increase reservations

Your website is open 24/7. Once on your site, it is much more convenient for the customer to book through it instead of going back to the online portal to make a reservation from there.

 

  • Receive credit card payments and improved cash flow

Booking Engines allows customers to pay for the reservation via credit card, thus putting funds straight into your account upon booking, not a month or more after check out. For seasonal accommodation largely booked 6-8 months before check-in, the Booking Engine delivers a major cashflow advantage.

 

  • You provide the client with the opportunity to book in a language and currency convenient for them

A Booking Engine allows the client to use the currency they prefer and get the information in the language they understand best. In this way, misunderstandings are avoided and the client's trust is gained before check-in.

 

  • Offer optimised offers and discounts according to the client

Online portals often do not offer the possibility for the owner or hotelier to present all of their available options for accommodation and reservation. A professional Booking Engine will allow you to set up last minute offers or early booking discounts in minutes, which increases bookings and wins satisfied and returning customers.

 

In conclusion, Booking Engine solutions are not exotic extras for extravagant properties and the largest hotels, but have become a mandatory feature that anyone seeking bookings must deploy in order to be relevant, competitive, drive their own growth and stay in control.

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