Most hoteliers, like yourself, have come to the conclusion that establishing a direct booking strategy without a booking engine is a losing battle.
Very rarely now will your guests call you up or walk into your hotel to make their booking.
Online booking is the order of the day and your website, along with social media pages and metasearch sites, plays a major role in your revenue strategy. At least, it will once you purchase a hotel booking engine.
You’ve taken the step of understanding your hotel needs a booking engine, now the real work begins: choosing a provider.
The explosion of hotel technology in recent years has made the industry a very complex place for hoteliers looking to make quick and easy decisions. There are so many options on offer it can be hard to know where to start.
This page will hopefully give you all the information you need to invest in a booking engine that gives you value for money and delivers the results you were hoping for; namely commission-free bookings and more control over the guest relationship.
Any major decision that impacts the way a business is run normally requires some vigorous research and/or testing. An uninformed choice always carries the danger of becoming an ill-informed choice, which could require you to start all over again.
When it comes to online hotel booking engines, the circumstance is no different.
Since a booking engine is a product/tool you need to do whatever you would do if you were buying a new pair of shoes, washing machine, or television; identify who the top providers are.
Every industry, including the hotel technology industry, has brands that are globally accepted as world leaders. Normally it’s pretty easy to narrow your options down to a top 10 for example, simply by identifying those companies with the biggest and best reputations.
After this, you need to subject this list to a range of criteria to see how they compare to each other. That’s when you can start to form an opinion on which one is most suited to your hotel.
When it comes to online booking engines this criteria might include:
A deep dive into these factors will enable you to easily measure different providers against each other – weighing the importance of each distinction as you see fit. It will put you on the right path for making the right decision for your business.
To help you in your endeavour to compare potential vendors, it’s important to know some general characteristics of a high quality booking engine.
Your booking engine needs to:
These are just some of the must-have features a top quality booking engine will equip your hotel with, so there’s a lot to take into account before you even start assessing things like cost.
If you’re an independent hotelier, budget is of course an important factor. Value for money and return on investment are some guarantees you’re going to want – especially if you pay a price at the higher end of the scale.
You can be fairly sure of these results once you’ve done your research and are confident in the main providers you’re considering. Often prices will also be pretty comparative amongst the top brands as well.
Most often, the price you’re required to pay for your technology will depend on the size of your property. The more rooms you have, you more you will have to pay.
To see an example of this for your property, visit SiteMinder’s pricing scale.
If you choose a provider who offers a free trial, complete setup will take place during this process, meaning by the time you feel ready to pay for the service nothing else needs to be done.
You should expect to be contacted within one business day of signing on for a free trial. After this it will ideally take no more than a week to get your booking engine configured and ready to go.
You can then immediately start accepting more direct bookings and winning more revenue as you move through your free trial period.
At SiteMinder, a specialist will be in touch as soon as possible to start your setup on a free trial.
Dedicated onboarding team members will be on hand to take you through your initial setup and your training thereafter. Setup and training will consist of one-on-one screen share phone calls, group training sessions, and other resources such as video tutorials and access to a customer knowledge base. Within the two weeks of your free trial you should already feel comfortable with your product and in control of your property’s new system.
Hotels never really sleep, so your provider is going to have to provide around the clock support, available in your region and language. Speak to your possible partners about what they can offer in this respect.
Whenever you begin using a new product, there are certain results you’ll be expecting. For this to happen, the brand needs to make good on particular promises or guarantees.
You can hold them to this by making it clear from the very start what you want, and what they say they can give you. Ask them plenty of questions about their service.
In regards to an online booking engine, here are some you might consider:
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the questions you should seek answers for but it will put you on the right track to choosing your online booking engine partner.
Reviews can often be your shining light amidst a bottomless pit of information on the internet. Visiting review sites is a handy way to cut through the noise and gain a compact, concise, and accurate view of various products all in one place.
Generally, while taking into account outliers at both ends of the scale, reviews will give you a reliable source of truth about the booking engine providers you are considering partnering with.
The most reliable place to find reviews in the hotel technology space is Hotel Tech Report.
Hotel Tech Report aggregates a range of ratings and scores to give you a complete snapshot of the product you’re researching. There’s a huge range of detail for you to look at, including ease of use, ROI, implementation, customer support, and overall recommendation scores.
You can look further into specific features, pros and cons, pricing, integrations, and even which properties are most suited to any particular product.
After all of that you can even delve into many written reviews of customers or previous users of a product. This is where you can get some more tangible insight into how it helps the day to day lives of hoteliers just like you. Everyone has differences in how they run their property but it’s always good to look at content from your peers in the industry.
Comparing online hotel booking engines can be done in more ways than simply comparing features and reviews. You can perform a more comprehensive comparison yourself by broadening your range of vision.
Once you’ve filtered down your options to a few or a handful you might take into account the following factors:
Trying to find a ‘free forever’ booking engine for hotels is not recommended. Truly free technology often won’t have the necessary infrastructure to provide the functionality you need or offer the continued updates that are required within the industry. Technology moves fast so you need a provider that has their finger on the pulse and keeps you at the forefront of development. This way, you won’t have to worry.
For those nervous about commitment, the top providers offer free trials so you can test all the benefits a booking engine has for your business.
A booking engine’s free trial should be at least 14 days; this will allow you to get setup, begin using the product, and have enough time to see the potential value in keeping the product long-term. You should have full access to the company’s resources throughout this process. It will be exactly like you are a paying customer – you just aren’t paying yet!
To start a free trial right now, SiteMinder offers a 14-day free trial of its booking engine. Click here to get started.
If you haven’t yet consolidated your options for a hotel booking engine into a manageable list, it’s a good idea to do so.
You can quickly pull together a top ten via a quick Google search. Once you have this you can do further research we’ve explained above to find the one that is right for you.
To get you started, here’s a list of the best hotel booking engines you might consider:
Commission-free online booking engine, with seamless website integration, secure online payments and the possibility to take bookings from your Facebook page. Coupled with an integrated channel manager and over 400 bookings channels, available in more than 20 languages and currencies, attracting guests is made easy.
Send this to a friend