Every year, the number of hotel walk-ins decreases. Hotel bookings are now made online in the age of global digitalisation. In that number, 40% are made through Booking.com, 32% through other aggregators, and 21% through hotel websites. That shows how important it is for hotels to connect to online booking channels to grow and attract more customers.
Hotel Booking Engine vs OTA: What is The Difference?
A hotel reservation system is a mechanism through which guests can create secure online reservations.
An online travel agency (OTA) is a web-based marketplace that allows customers to explore and book travel products and services directly from travel suppliers, such as hotels, flights, vehicles, tours, cruises, activities, and more.
While the process is similar to booking with an online travel agent (OTA), the difference is that the hotel’s booking engine essentially links up to their website so that there are no additional fees incurred for the property.
Through the hotel reservation system software, guests can choose how long they will stay, the type of room they want, get add-ons, and pay securely online through a payment platform.
An online booking engine is your key to commission-free direct bookings, as well as a tool to maximise earnings from your property's sales strategy.
Since most travellers book their vacations online, hotels rely on internet travel agencies to deliver reservations. The benefits of listing on them include reaching huge, new audiences and increasing bookings, but each reservation demands a commission fee to the third party.
Sure, today's travellers utilise online travel agencies (OTAs) 50% more than hotel websites to research leisure trip possibilities. But when this price rises above 20%, it becomes exceptionally frustrating for hotels, tiny owners, who watch their profits dwindle.
How Much does OTAs Costs For Commission?
Consider the following scenario: your hotel's room rate is RM100, and you use two well-known Online Travel Agencies as part of the booking engine for your guests. The average commission fee charged by online travel agencies is 15% of the total booking price. You lose an average of RM15 for every room that is booked. You can use our Revenue Calculator to see how much money you could save if you had your hotel booking engine for your establishment.
Functions of a Hotel Booking Engine
You must understand the fundamental functions of a hotel booking engine before moving on with this section. And, yes, the function is beneficial to both you, the hotelier, and your guests, and they are as follows:
- To streamline the guest booking process
- To display the rates and options available based on the search criteria (arrival date, number of nights, number of pax, etc.)
- To keep track of reservations and collect payment
- To notify both the guest and the hotel about online bookings
- To enable guests to make an online reservation and secure the reservation through an online payment.
- To allow guests to check the availability of rooms for the specified date
- To improve the customer experience when reserving a room
- To notify guests via SMS/Email of the status of their booking
5 Benefits of Using Hotel Booking Engines
To be competitive in the business, hoteliers must begin including this feature into their websites and pages since many guests will expect this level of service from their hosts, regardless of their hotel's size. The importance of convenience cannot be overstated.
An online booking system is a must-have for hotels these days. It is an essential feature for hotels to ensure a competitive advantage. Do not make it difficult for your prospective customers to make a booking. Make it fast and straightforward.
The booking process must be seamless to ensure the customers can proceed to payment without any roadblocks. Choose a booking engine that is also easy for the front hotel desk to operate efficiently. By now, you should know how a hotel booking engine can help you, but here are five more benefits of using hotel booking engines.
Convenient setup process
- Hotel booking engines usually integrate PMS (Property Management System) and Channel Manager. All availability in your property would be received upon receiving a reservation (be it from your Hotel Booking Engine or OTAs) immediately.
- Everything is at the tip of your fingertips. Email enquiries? On-the-phone reservations? Too much to handle? Fret no more with hotel booking engines. Let the system work for you while you and your staff provide a more friendly interaction with your guests.
Better customer experience
- With a cloud-based system, your guests would be able to easily book with your property, be it from their phone, tablet or on their laptops. Using a transparent and straightforward payment portal will bring up an excellent first impression from your customers towards your hotel.
- Thanks to the online payment method, you need to worry less about the “no-show” customers. They would most likely not book unless they are serious about staying at your property. You would only need to entertain serious customers!
Collect valuable data from customer
The hospitality industry drives on personalisation with the customers. Never let the data received from customers go to waste! With CRM, you would generate more and more revenue from your customers.
9 Features to Look For In A Hotel Booking Engine Software
Now you’re sure of getting a hotel booking engine for your property. Great decision!
Most hotel booking engine providers offer a trial account for hoteliers to try out their system before using it. This is your opportunity to compare features offered by different providers and choose the best plan for your hotel. If no free trial is available, you may also request a demonstration of the hotel booking engine from the provider.
However, before deciding on a hotel booking engine software provider, look at the nine essential features of a hotel booking engine software.
Mobile and user friendly
- Ensuring these two are in check is an effective way to keep customers on the website longer. It can reduce bounce rates and increase customer loyalty. Usually, as part of a customer’s journey, they would most likely use their mobile device first before making their booking. Simplifying this and making it friendly will ease out the process.
Provides hotel website development service
- You need to ensure customers that the software you picked for your hotel booking engine comes with a hotel website development service. A hotel website will remain the main communication channel between you and your guests. It also serves as your hotel’s trademark and brand image to the public. With an official hotel website, your guests will be able to receive trusted information from you.
Secured payment gateway options
- Travellers can choose to pay from various payment gateways such as online banking, credit card, debit card, e-wallet, and more. You would also be able to control and customise their checkout pages. Payment gateways will act as the go-between to ensure the safety of customers’ data. Customers would need to stay within the hotel’s site without trouble with new pop-up pages for payment purposes, simplifying the whole process.
- Ensure all the necessary parts such as room type, calendar, price are built into the software. These are all the basic, essential things that you need to begin.
Provides innovative promotion code system
- Promo codes have already proved to be a powerful marketing tool for hoteliers. They can attract more direct bookings to your hotel via its website and social media pages. This results in more loyal customers and, of course, increased revenue for your hotel.
Provides self-service cancellation
- It is crucial to provide this for your customers. Even for you! Did you know that manual cancellations can become more cost-prohibitive? Allowing an easy self-service cancellation can provide a better experience for your customers. However, a terrible cancellation experience can sour customers from ever returning to your hotel.
Ability to up-sell your hotel services
- Up-selling your hotel services comes with multiple benefits- yes, not only to generate more revenue for you. It can help you understand your guests better, improve their experience and facilitate customer retention. Up-selling is an excellent way to showcase services that you offer along with the range of products while offering even more options for your customers.
- (e.g. extra beds, early check-in, airport transfer, meeting room package, etc.)
Ability to connect and install in other social networking sites
- Social networking sites such as Facebook and Instagram now has a high potential in churning in more direct bookings. They are essential in the customer journey as they are one of the first parts of a customer’s travel research process.
E-commerce tracking capability
- Grow the customer base you have using data that you have via SEO, SEM and email marketing insights. Sure, reaching new customers is essential but never underestimate the possibilities from your previous customers. Using e-commerce trackers such as Google Analytics, Google Adwords and Facebook Ads Tracker, you would be able also to measure your customer’s behaviour and send out more personalised marketing campaigns for them.
Once you've made your decision, double-check that the hotel booking engine you've chosen meets the needs of your hotel business and provides a comprehensive solution.
Top 3 Suggestions for Hotel Booking Engine Provider
The list below includes three popular hotel booking engine providers ready to be used by all hoteliers. It is intended to serve as a rough guide to assist you in selecting the one you prefer. You are welcome to explore and learn more about them. Below are our top 3 suggestions for hotel booking engine providers:
Softinn Hotel Booking Engine
Softinn provides a seamless direct booking experience for your guests, thereby increasing direct booking revenue, lowering commission payments to OTAs, and assisting your hotel in establishing its guest relationship.
The following are the features offered by Softinn Booking Engine:
- The mobile-friendly system is simple to integrate into your hotel's website or social media channels.
- Provide access to payment gateways in Indonesia and Malaysia.
- Access the system from any device, at any time.
- Complete control over the Extranet, including inviting multiple users to manage and manage the properties in a single account.
- Capable of creating a one-of-a-kind promotion code.
- The self-cancellation system eliminates the need for guests to contact your hotel to cancel or receive a refund.
Clients who utilise the Softinn Booking Engine include the following:
Softinn offers a free 14-day trial account, with no credit card required. Click here to apply and acquire additional information.
Read also: 6 Reasons To Choose Softinn Booking Engine
SiteMinder Hotel-Booking Engine
SiteMinder is a leading cloud platform that provides two-way connections to more than 400 distribution channels to connect guests locally and globally. It is also allowed to integrate with over 230 leading property management systems (PMSs), Channel Manager, RMSs, CRSs, and many hotel technology solutions in real-time.
SiteMinder Hotel Booking Engine includes the following features:
- Allow guests to complete an online booking in two steps
- Customise the online booking engine with your own hotel brand’s look and feel
- Guests can book multiple rooms under one reservation
- Upsell guests with promotional rates and packages
- Receive instant payments with payment gateway options
- Update your rates, availability, and special offers across all your systems
- Generate reports on your booking performance, trends, and sources
SiteMinder Booking Engine users include the following customers:
- Atrium Hotel Mandurah
- Viceroy Bali
- Putri Ayu Cottages
SiteMinder offers a free 14-day trial account. Click here to try them out.
EZee Hotel Booking EngineEZee's hotel booking engine provides your guests with an easy and seamless reservation experience via their PC, smartphone, or tablet. A robust online booking system increases your revenue by enabling your guests to take advantage of special offers, promo codes, and the ability to book in groups.
The following are some of the features that EZee’s Booking Engine has to offer:
- Easy booking process
- Smartphone supported
- Discount for corporate clients
- Create package and promotions
- Multiple interfaces and room booking
- Multiple languages and currencies
Following are examples of clients who make use of the EZee’s Booking Engine:
- A Famosa Resort Melaka
- Palace of the Golden Horses
- Hotel Costa Coral, Costa Rica
EZee also provides a 14-day free trial account. To try them out, go here.
Increasing direct sales remains one of today's significant hotel challenges.
It reduces the OTA sale costs, lowering the commission we must pay them for facilitating the sale. It's the most cost-effective option in an era of increasing competition and a growing number of available sales channels.
It also allows you to build a lasting relationship with the guest. This can lead to future stays and hotel recommendations. Also, consider the monthly OTA compensation costs - You can spend a significant portion of this on compelling image and pro-sales marketing activities.
While the main benefit of a booking engine is increased direct bookings, there are other advantages. With a booking engine that syncs with your PMS and channel manager, you save time by controlling inventory distribution and reducing overbooking. However, with everything, do extensive research before jumping into anything. Give our Guide To Direct Booking a read to get a more comprehensive view on getting direct bookings.