The hotel booking engine is the primary source of direct reservations for any property. Extra care and attention should be assigned to its selection and implementation! The hotel’s booking engine is normally located as part of, or linked from ‘brand.com’ (The official hotel website).
Here are some important ingredients when evaluating booking engine providers:
It is important that the booking engine is fully operational out of the box, with minimal required customization and set-up effort. Avoid start-up providers that may be lacking essential features.
A good booking engine is designed and developed with conversion in mind. It is imperative that your visitor requests are met quickly and accurately. Simplicity is key! Do not consider long and complicated conversion paths.
Fast and secure! Most professional booking engines will aggressively promote this fact, beware of those who do not!
Complete customization of all content, room types, occupancies, descriptions, rate plans, facilities, special offers, photos, display configuration and of course occupancy pricing is vital. The more flexible the better!
Come with a powerful special offer creation interface as standard; that gives you special abilities to apply direct special offers. Your direct booking campaigns will rely heavily on this flexibility. Some examples may include direct booking incentives containing special add-ons for specific length of stay or if specific conditions are met! Early booking offers, last-minute offers, free nights, loyalty offers etc.
Future releases, development and upgrades should be part of your standard contract.
Reputable booking engines are passionate about continuously developing and enhancing their products, and will have annual releases containing bug fixes and new features. From time to time, they will develop new tools, and approach you for additional fees. Be open-minded to the new tools, request a free trial and give them a try, they may help you considerably with your direct booking strategies. Nothing ventured, nothing gained!
The secret ingredient when dealing with booking engine providers is their willingness to continuously support you. Providers tend to charge low set-up fees and then either a % or a fixed value per reservation, meaning they have a vested interest in supporting & guiding you. Additional modules may be charged as yearly recurring subscriptions.
The hotel booking engine is a mission critical part of your online booking strategy. Making the right choice will shape your business for years to come.