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Central reservation system (CRS): Guide for hotels

What is a central reservation system?

A central reservation system is a type of reservation software that is used to update and maintain hotel inventory and rate information so that hotels are able to manage guest reservations in real-time. Its definition can be simplified to its purposes of centralising data from every connected distribution channel and system, including the hotel’s property management system and booking engine. By consolidating so much data, it can also be a very useful tool for hotel managers when thinking about revenue management strategies. Here’s everything you need to know about central reservation systems.

Why is a hotel central reservation system important?

A hotel central reservation system is important for keeping track of reservation data and having the appropriate information to optimise distribution for the hotel. Because the CRS transfers reservation data from the PMS/s to the distribution channels in real-time, hotels are able to reach guests across as many channels as needed. In this aspect, a central reservation system acts in much the same way as a channel manager. A CRS generally has more features than a standalone distribution solution, but doesn’t offer the same power and performance as an integrated hotel commerce platform.

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SiteMinder’s unified platform will give your hotel all the functions of a CRS and more, helping you to boost bookings and revenue.

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4 advantages of a central reservation system

Here’s four reasons hotels will choose to use a central reservation system to improve their business.

1. It can improve customer experiences

The CRS can help hotels track patterns in guest purchasing behaviour and also record reservation data to enable the creation of guest profiles.

2. It keeps everything in one place

Trying to consolidate data from OTAs, the GDS, brick-and-mortar travel agencies, phone reservations, and more can be very tricky when done manually. The central reservation system ensures all this information is stored and accessible in one place, and always up-to-date.

3. It increases efficiency

Admin errors, lost data, and slow processes all cost money in the long run so it’s crucial for hoteliers to find ways that make backend operations easier and quicker. By preventing data fragmentation, the CRS saves hoteliers a lot of time, money, and effort.

4. It enables better decision making

By giving greater visibility on bookings, a central reservation system lets a hotel make more informed sales and pricing decisions and make more accurate performance forecasts.

How does a CRS work at a hotel?

A CRS works by collating vast amounts of data from a number of different sources into one accessible location. The CRS is able to connect the hotel’s property management system to every distribution and sales channel the hotel might be using. This ensures that all reservation data is safely recorded and stored in the hotel’s own system, meaning inventory will always be accurate and up-to-date everywhere it needs to be. The synchronisation works the other way too – the CRS can also push updated rates and availability to the distribution channels where guests are booking. For example, if you need to update a packaged rate for your hotel, you can do this within the CRS and the new rate will be reflected on your connected OTAs, your own direct booking engine, and in your PMS.

Types of central reservation systems

A central reservation system is just one type of reservation software. There are a number of systems on the hotel market that can help improve reservation management. Other types of reservation systems include:
  • Property management systems
  • Channel managers
  • Booking engines
There are also many different providers of these systems, including central reservation systems, and it’s up to you to decide what is the best fit for your property.

Central reservation system examples

Some common central reservation system examples you might come across, which can be integrated via SiteMinder’s platform, include:
  • Choice
  • GuestCentric
  • Pegasus
  • SHR
SiteMinder’s platform integrates your CRS with the leading online travel agencies (OTA) to increase your reach and lower your cost of distribution. With SiteMinder, inventory and rate updates to and from your CRS are automatic and real-time eliminating manual work and lowering your cost of acquisition.

Optimise your hotel distribution with SiteMinder’s platform

While you can certainly use a CRS to improve your distribution and centralise your reservation data, you can do it all and more with SiteMinder’s smart platform. Not only will you get a channel manager, booking engine, and PMS integration, you’ll also have access to:
  • Metasearch: Boost your visibility on metasearch sites like Google Hotel Ads to ensure you’re getting your fair share of direct reservations.
  • Global distribution systems: Tap into thousands of travel agents and win valuable bookings from the corporate market.
  • Business intelligence: Gain vital competitor insights and real-time market data to ensure you’re always setting the right price to improve profitability.
That’s not everything either! You can also use SiteMinder’s website builder to perfect your brand presence, and our guest engagement feature to maximise the value of every guest.