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What is a booking engine and how does it help Hotels to drive growth?

What is a booking engine and how does it help hotels to drive growth?

In recent years. a large number of hotels and other accommodation providers have given a lot of attention to acquiring new reservations at the lowest possible cost. With the use of a booking engine along with proper marketing strategies, a considerable amount of properties have been able to successfully develop a direct reservation channel.

This is a brief guide that we’ve come up with to help you to get to know the know-how’s of a booking engine, especially what a booking engine is and how it helps hotels to grow.

What is a booking engine?

A booking engine is an application or software that are used by accommodation providers, like hotels, motels, hostels and other accommodation providers to capture bookings made by customers via the website of the accommodation provider or by any other third-party provider. 

A booking engine collects all the information regarding the booking made, which includes credit card information as well. And, integrates this information with other hotel management software such as PMS, channel manager, CRS or payment gateway.

Most of the booking engines are capable of being instilled into the existing website of the accommodation provider which will work solely as a reservation processing system. 

The main advantage of using a booking engine is that it captures new reservations without having to pay commission for third-party distributors like OTA’s (Online Travel Agencies), GDS (Global Distribution System), travel agents or online marketplaces. Also, anyone can make a booking at any time, from anywhere, and payments can be made via credit cards if a payment gateway is integrated.

Apart from its primary function booking engines can be used as a medium to market your rooms and services to get the highest number of direct bookings.

Why do hotels use booking engines?

  • Direct sales:

With a booking engine in place, you don’t have to pay for commissions. As a result, profit margins increase and guest acquisition cost is reduced. A booking engine helps to increase direct sales by streamlining the process and by marketing your hotel’s website into an online shop that is available 24/7.

  • Ability to view everything at once:

Your customers won’t have to go through the hassle of going through multiple pages just to find the information they want. With a compatible booking engine, they can get all the information they need in one place.

  • Third-party payment apps:

In this day and age, customers prefer to make payments digitally via third-party payment apps like Google Pay, PayPal, Venmo, Apple Cash and Cash App. A booking engine is fully capable of integrating with any third-party apps and at the same time, it is important to make sure your booking engine is hitched on to globally accepted third-party payment apps like the ones mentioned above. Apart from integration booking engines are also capable of storing accurate customer data.

  •  My booking engine, my rules:

Customers hate when they are being disturbed by any third party intermediary while they are in the middle of browsing and confirming a booking. A direct reservation means that it is your property that owns the reservation, the data and the guest relationship. 

More importantly, it’s you who will be in command of terms and conditions in regards to cancellations, payments and other house rules. Moreover, it will be you who will be directly in touch with customers than any third-party intermediary. 

  • Personalisation:

Your hotel website can be used to provide highly personalised service for your customers. You already know your target market and the type of customers who you deal with, so with that in mind, you can align your offerings to exactly match what the customer wants. Also, these days health and safety are of utmost importance so you can use your site to show how your hotel is meeting these guidelines.

The ‘must-have’ features of a booking engine

Out of the many features a booking engine offers, there are few features that your ideal booking engine must have.

  • 24/7 availability: 

As mentioned previously your website is your online shop that is accessible to your customers 24/7 allowing them to make a booking anytime. If customers are unable to make a booking anytime they want then you will be losing out a lot. Adding to that, if you are targeting international customers then indefinitely you will lose your international customers as well. Bear in mind that uptime is also crucial to maintaining the strength of your direct reservations channel.

  • Mobile-friendly:

According to Statista, there are 6.378 billion smartphone users in 2021. When compared to 2020 this is a massive increase of 323 million users. These numbers give a clear picture of how mobile phones have dominated the world and how essential it is for your booking engine to be mobile-friendly.

So make sure that your booking engine is fully optimised for mobile devices and simultaneously ensure that your website loads up fast. Be mindful to make sure that your booking process is self-explanatory because customers are critical about it. The last thing you want is to lose sales because of an unresponsive website so make sure that it is highly responsive in every sense of the word. 

  • Payment processing:

An online payment gateway makes life easy for the accommodation provider and the guest as well because it automates the booking process. Needless to say, how customers prefer to use their credit cards and receive an instant booking confirmation. Using an online payment gateway will save you from the trouble of manually charging for bookings or checking for credit card validity. 

  • SSL protection:

It is mandatory to provide high-level security to data, irrespective of whether it’s customers or yours. High-level security can be provided by making sure that your provider adheres to PCI, DSI compliance and to Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) guidelines as well.

  • Multi-currency & multi-language:

Most accommodation providers target both local and international customers. When you are targeting international customers you need to make sure that your customers are able to make bookings in their preferred language and make payments in their currency of choice. 

Over the years dealing with tourism providers has made us realise that a booking engine is a fundamental component for tourism operators. We also know that it is a struggle to fit a booking engine into a hotel website and make it align with your business goals. Knowing all this we are ready to end your struggle and make it work for you so feel free to get in touch with us.

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