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The best booking engine software for your hotel

Mistakes to avoid when purchasing

Since the necessity of purchasing booking engine software has become apparent to you, it clearly means you know what’s best for your hotel.

Using software to help run your hotel is never a mistake; it helps you attract more bookings and do things quicker day-to-day. The challenge you face is choosing the right piece of software, the right provider for your property.

It gets tricky at this point because there are now a vast amount of options on the market in the hotel industry. The amount of research you need to do is so painstaking it almost becomes like running a gauntlet as you attempt to choose between what is probably going to be a number of good choices.

Luckily, web pages like this exist to help you make informed, confident decisions so your business is set up for success as well as it can be. Read on so you don’t make any mistakes when choosing your booking engine software.

Don’t choose the wrong online booking engine software

This goes without saying but it would be a costly mistake. Some purchase decisions don’t really matter – if you buy the wrong socks people won’t see them anyway. Hotel software can be quite expensive and time-consuming so having to go through the process two or three times is not ideal.

With so many providers ready to show their wares it wouldn’t actually be hard mistake to make. You can make it easier via your research by identifying who the world leaders in the space are. Finding the best brands is a good course of action regardless of what you’re buying.

You can narrow down your options this way looking at some criteria that will enable you to get a list of top contenders together, so you don’t get stuck going down the rabbit hole of the wrong one.

For booking engine software this criteria might include:

  • Brand strength
  • Product functionality
  • Integrations
  • User experience
  • Product design
  • Range of features
  • Cost
  • Training and support

An extensive look into these factors means you won’t go in blind to any purchase decision and you can easily weight competing products against each other.

Don’t overlook vital internet booking engine software features

Overlooking the basic features you need would be a mistake, but so would not taking the time to investigate the full range of features that can be offered by some booking engines. If you hotel is going to adopt this software, it may as well use the very best you can get.

Make sure these features are a part of the offering when considering your vendors:

  • Stop your reliance on online booking agents by taking direct reservations through your website, social media, and metasearch sites
  • Give you newfound control over the guest relationship from beginning to end of the booking journey
  • Maintain your unique brand image by adapting to your content
  • Give guests an optimised experience on every device, including mobile
  • Prominently display promotions and codes to drive last-minute or early-bird bookings
  • Give guests a flexible date calendar to ensure availability
  • Sell multiple room types at your property
  • Accept online payments with an integrated payments solution and make the checkout experience seamless
  • Upgrade, upsell, offer extras and add-ons to maximise revenue
  • Create an auto-trigger for guests who have completed a stay to leave a review on TripAdvisor to boost your reputation
  • Work seamlessly with your brand website to increase conversions
  • Attract travellers from all over the globe in many languages and currencies

To see an example of booking engine software that ticks all these boxes, check out SiteMinder’s booking engine technology here.

Don’t pay too much for a hotel internet booking engine

Price is a natural concern and people hate feeling like they’ve paid too much for something. Generally it’s not the price that’s the crux of a decision, instead it’s value for money. If you feel like what you get matches what you paid then there are no issue, even if the price is objectively high based on comparative figures.

The cost of a hotel internet booking engine shouldn’t range enormously however and will depend on the size of your property. A bigger property with more rooms will be required to pay more. This is simply because more infrastructure is required on the backend with more rooms.

This is what you can expect a normal payment structure to look like:

  • Initial setup fee to get up and running
  • Flat monthly fee
  • No lock-in contract
  • No transaction fees

To see how this might work for your property, take a look at SiteMinder’s pricing scale here.

Don’t forget to ask questions about your internet booking engine

This is where it’s great to be a person who loves to ask questions! You certainly can’t afford to make the mistake of holding back when the success of your business is on the line. Ask your potential provider as many questions as possible so you can make the most of the product and decide if it’s right for you.

Even though you can ‘try before you buy’ with a free trial it’s still important to clarify any concerns directly.

Here are some examples of what you should ask about your booking engine:

  • Will it enable me to keep my existing brand image?
  • Can I upload my own content?
  • Will it integrate with my website?
  • Do I need a channel manager too?
  • How will guest payments be processed?
  • How will it help me control the guest relationship?
  • Will I receive ongoing support?
  • Will the product be subject to continued improvement and updates?

This is just a sample of the important questions you may want to ask and you can learn a lot from what answers you get from each provider and how they answer. The more conversation you have the more intuitive you can be about your decision.

Software booking engine: Don’t be left without support and training

This is especially important if it’s your first time using technology to manage your business, but it remains the case for everyone. Training and support is vital if you plan on getting the maximum value out of your product.

You should expect your provider to give you in-depth guidance when you are first initiated. Hands-on training from a dedicated specialist should ease you into your free trial, making sure everything is in place for you to start taking direct bookings. Aside from phone calls and screen-sharing it will be helpful for you to be provided with other resources such as videos and articles so make sure your provider is doing this for you.

Too often, people can disappear once they have your money. You need to be sure your business will be supported for as long as you are using your booking engine. Clarify with vendors on whether they can offer around the clock support within your region and in your language. Sometimes things do go wrong but your business can’t afford to be stalled for too long so you need a reliable outlet for assistance.

Don’t buy hotel booking engine software before you take a free trial

Free trials are extremely important and you always risk disappointment if you don’t take a free trial of hotel booking engine software before you purchase it.

A provider who is offering a free trial can certainly be trusted a little more than those who don’t, since you’ll be able to investigate the full functionality of the product for free. If it doesn’t satisfy your expectations, you can move on straight away.

SiteMinder offers a 14-day free trial of its booking engine software. During this time you will get a kickstart on your setup so there’s no time wasted if you do choose to pay for the subscription. The trial enables you to use the product as normal, taking reservations through your website, new booking engine, and metasearch sites completely free of charge. Any revenue and profit you make is always yours to keep, regardless of whether you continue after your free trial or not.

A free trial is a great way of establishing your confidence in a product, and seeing if it will deliver ROI for your property, with no risk and no strings attached.

Don’t forget to compare hotel booking engines

Knowing that you’re about to move away from archaic methods and start using technology to deliver more valuable bookings to your hotel is exciting. Being too excited means we can make mistakes – like purchasing the first viable product we see just because we want one so much.

You simply must compare a number of booking engine providers if you want to feel secure you’ve made the best choice. Not all are created equal, so the more you compare the more you will understand about the difference in quality of product and also customer service.

The very best way to do is via industry specific websites such as Hotel Tech Report. Here you’ll be able to see aggregated scores and ratings in product categories for many different providers.

You’ll see figures for metrics such as:

  • Ease of use
  • ROI
  • Integration
  • Implementation
  • Support
  • Features

All of this will add up to HTR telling you how much they recommend the provider and what properties it would most recommend each booking engine for.

On Hotel Tech Report there is also space for you to see written reviews from other hoteliers who are using the product. Their feedback is significant, since they are in the same boat as you with roughly the same challenges and goals. You can weigh it as you will but it should definitely help provide you with some direction.

Hotel booking software on the cloud: Don’t ignore social media reviews

Social media is NOT the most reliable place on the internet to seek information, but it shouldn’t be discounted completely.

It can be a volatile place where small frustrations get blown up into what seems like a disaster, but you should certainly still check out the social media pages of tech providers.

Sites like Facebook have a review and recommendation section, where you can see star ratings and comments from users. If this feedback is quite similar to what you’ve seen on other sites it’s probably safe to take the information at face value.

Comments in general can be interesting. If you start to see a trend of people complaining about the product or customer service over a period of time, this is something you might need to worry about.

Browsing social media is also just another way to quickly see the type of personality a brand has, and whether their content seems relevant and helpful.

Don’t avoid cloud based hotel booking software

It’s natural to harbour doubts when spending money. If you’re looking to use hotel tech for the first time it’s natural to be apprehensive. How can I trust this online system over my own tried and true methods?

The fact is that cloud-based systems are foolproof.

The best hotel platforms like SiteMinder are all cloud-based systems – they operate online. The ‘cloud’ allows huge amounts of remotely accessible data to be shared between different systems and housed in one secure location. This is vastly superior to a server based system, which requires a central computer to house and process data.

Since all you need is an internet connection you never have to be tied to one particular computer or location to operate your software. In the context of your business this means you’ll be able to access the extranet of your booking engine wherever and whenever you like.

Another factor is that cloud-based systems operate in real-time. Since it’s also automated, you get back hours of your life each week.

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