A hotel reservation system is one of the most essential technology investments for modern guest accommodation businesses. Through the use of such a system, hotels and similar properties can maximise direct bookings, which are not subject to the same commission fees associated with bookings generated via third-party online travel agencies.

In this article, you will learn more about hotel reservation systems, their features, and their overall value.

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What is a Hotel Reservation System?

A hotel reservation system is a software solution, which has been designed to assist hotels and similar types of guest accommodation with the process of managing room reservations, or hotel facility bookings. The defining feature is the ability for guests to book hotel rooms directly, without going through a third party.

Essentially, the system works by allowing guests to book hotels through the hotel website, or through other direct channels. Data is then synchronised with the hotel’s back end, allowing the fine details of the booking to be managed. Most hotel reservation systems will also automate some aspects, such as the sending of confirmation emails.

3 Reasons Why a Hotel Reservation System is Important

Acquiring a good hotel reservation system is important for many different reasons, but three reasons stand out as being among the most significant of all. You can learn more about these below:

1. No Commission to OTAs

One of the biggest reasons why hotel reservation systems have emerged as such a valuable part of the hospitality industry is because direct bookings are more profitable for hotels than bookings made through online travel agencies (OTAs). This is because direct bookings do not require hotels to pay a commission fee.

When customers book a hotel room through an OTA, a percentage of the money they pay is taken by the OTA as a commission fee. This is seen as a worthwhile expense for hotels because OTAs can help them to increase distribution. However, hotels should always prioritise direct bookings when they can, in order to maximise revenue and profit.

2. Better Control Over Information and Pricing

Another reason why a hotel reservation system can be so valuable to a hotel is because it provides a greater sense of control over information and pricing. Using a hotel reservation system, clear rules can be established for setting room rates, allocating discounts, and either upselling or cross-selling.

A good reservation system can also be integrated with a property management system. This combination of hotel reservation and PMS software can then help to update information across other platforms for greater consistency and can centralise the process of setting room rates, or making changes to hotel and room descriptions.

Additionally, customer information from direct bookings can also be retained by the hotel, rather than being obtained by a third-party OTA. This then allows hotels to deliver a greater level of personalisation for each customer and allows the hotel to target customers with pre and post-arrival communications.

3. Greater Customisation and Branding Potential

Through the use of a hotel reservation system to facilitate direct bookings, hotels have greater opportunities to utilise the customisation tools to brand the customer journey and present their own unique voice and perspective.

As a result, customers experience a greater level of consistency, see the booking process as more professional, and become more likely to complete the process and book a hotel room. Customers who are taken to a booking engine that does not reflect the hotel website they came from may find the experience jarring and less trustworthy.

What Are the Key Features of a Good Hotel Reservation System?

While the precise features of different hotel reservation systems can vary substantially, the best solutions on the market will offer broadly similar core functionality. With this in mind, the following can be regarded as key features:

Easy Customisation

A good hotel reservation system, much like high-quality PMS software, needs to be able to be customised so that it is as relevant as possible to your specific hotel. This means customising the booking process so that all of the options reflect the facilities and realities of your property, and so that it does not come across as generic.

Customers value hotels that appear professional and customising a reservation system is a good way to achieve an easy win in this area. In addition to modifying the booking options so that they are appropriate, your reservation system provides great opportunities to inject some personality through intelligent use of branding.

Integration With Your PMS

Aside from the independent features of a hotel reservation system, it is also important that any software you acquire can be integrated with your property management system and as many other solutions as possible. Such integration can take many forms, but the most crucial component is the ability to share data between the applications.

When software can be fully integrated, workflows can be optimised and the two-way flow of data can help to avoid miscommunication. Furthermore, the sharing of data means that information related to pricing, bookings, and room availability will be kept continuously up-to-date, which can help to prevent double bookings and other costly errors.

Video: What Is a PMS?


Compatible With Mobile

An ever-growing number of hospitality customers are exploring their options on a mobile phone, rather than a computer, and this segment of the market provides an exciting opportunity for hotels. After all, many customers find mobile bookings through a third-party platform to be frustrating or unnecessarily time-consuming.

Hotels that can provide customers with access to a quick, easy-to-use booking engine, which has been optimised for mobile devices, could benefit from a greater number of direct bookings. A hotel reservation system that allows for the creation of a fully mobile-optimised booking process can greatly boost your financial results.

Opportunities for Upselling

Another important feature for your hotel booking software is the ability to include upselling and cross-selling within the booking process. On a basic level, this can mean giving customers options to upgrade their room or add extra services, such as breakfasts, or access to certain optional hotel features.

However, booking systems can go further than this, including options for entry to local attractions, or places on a sightseeing tour. In some cases, hotels may also be able to work with local businesses, offering extras or special offers related to transportation, or other parts of the hospitality industry, such as restaurants or entry to nightclubs.

Connected to Your CRM

One of the single most significant advantages of direct bookings is the ability to collect information from your customers. With that being said, to get the most from this information and to use it to effectively improve the guest experience for your customers, you need your hotel reservation system to connect with your CRM software.

Once such a connection has been established, the information shared between the two solutions can be used to great effect. Building a better picture of precisely who your guests are means you are able to deliver a more personalised guest experience and it also means you can tailor your communication to suit their preferences too.

Maximise The Effectiveness of Your Hotel Reservation System

In order to maximise all the functionalities of your hotel reservation system, it is essential enough research is done into the functionalities the software offers. There are many less obvious strategies that can help your business in the long run

In the article “Hotel Booking System: 8 Tips to Maximise its Benefits” you can find eight specific tips which will make sure you are using your reservation system to its full potential.

Hotel Reservation System: Tips for Attracting More Bookings

Your hotel reservation software is going to be connected to your main hotel website, so it is important that you take the right steps to attract direct online bookings. This means capitalising on search engine optimisation techniques, using intelligent web design to make the website more appealing, and highlighting your USPs.

Of course, there are a number of other steps that can be taken to maximise the appeal of your website. For further insights, check out the article “8 Tips To Gain More Bookings With Your Hotel Website”.

OTAs to Target Alongside Your Hotel Reservation System

For hotels to maximise reach and attract as many bookings as possible, it is important to compliment a high-quality hotel reservation system with availability via online travel agents. This means finding the best OTAs to work with, in order to achieve strategic goals, with examples including Booking.com, Expedia, and Trip Advisor.

For a breakdown of the main online travel agents to focus on, along with explanations about the value of OTAs and how commission fees are calculated, read “12 Online Travel Agents (OTAs) to Increase Your Hotel Bookings”.

Compliment Your Hotel Reservation System With an RMS

In addition to making effective use of a hotel reservation system, you should also invest in a high-quality revenue management system or RMS. Such a system can help you to track key metrics and access information about competitors. At the same time, an RMS will make intelligent, evidence-based room rate recommendations.

To learn about how to maximise your revenue through the use of a revenue management system, and to find out about specific plus points, take a look at “Revenue Management System (RMS): What Are the Advantages?”.

Add a PMS to Your Hotel Reservation System

A property management system (PMS) can be an excellent way to add to other hotel technology, such as your hotel reservation system. A good PMS can assist you with administrative tasks, performance analysis, payment processing, and a variety of other day-to-day operations. However, you need to know the features to focus on.

Learn about the value of property management and the precise features you should be looking for when exploring the available options in the “PMS System: What Are the Most Important Features?” article.

A hotel reservation system is one of the single most important hotel software investments because it facilitates direct bookings over the internet. When used to maximum effect, this can result in more bookings coming in that are not subject to commission fees, meaning your hotel keeps all of the revenue.

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