The world of hotel distribution is more complex than ever. There’s a constantly expanding world of third-party booking platforms for guests to choose from. But that’s not to say that direct sales are diminishing. In fact, according to consumer research, in most markets, direct booking revenue has actually increased in the last year.
Hotels need advanced hotel software systems, like an online booking engine, to compete. The reality is that many guests learned to book via third-party websites in the early days of online travel when travel sites offered deals and a streamlined experience that hotels did not yet have the tools to offer. Research is showing that more guests are booking direct than before.
To take part in this change, hotels need both a convincing website, as well as a booking engine to capture those direct reservations. There are many options out there. A standalone booking engine is sold on its own, without requiring additional purchases.
|What is an online booking engine for hotels?
An online booking engine is a specialized ecommerce tool that allows hotels to collect reservation and payment information from guests and to pass that data along to other hotel management software.
The value of an online booking engine
First and foremost: online bookings are essential for most hotels. Managed travel and bookings made via GDS are certainly not a thing of the past, but even business travel is often booked by the individual these days. What’s more, a growing generation of travelers are unlikely to ever pick up the phone or even contact your hotel at all to compare rates they see online to your direct rate.
That’s why it’s essential that your website visibly and clearly have the lowest rate a traveler can find online. And most importantly, reservations made via your online booking engine should be commission free.
If you’re shopping for an online booking engine or your hotel and the vendor charges commission on each booking – keep looking. You’re already paying commission on third-party bookings! Direct reservations should be your highest value sales.
Another key value of booking engines is that by choosing the right booking engine, it can help you tap into some of the top travel trends for 2022 and beyond. Guests are prioritizing flexibility and experience over just the lowest possible rate. The increase in direct bookings is directly tied to both of these things.
How your booking engine can keep you a step ahead
More than ever, guests are looking to manage their own travel and choose a hotel they trust. An online booking engine that connects to your hotel technology and provides a seamless purchasing experience from website through to payment and confirmation email is essential to hit both of those marks.
What’s more, security should be a top consideration when investing in a booking engine. In addition to meeting data security best practices, you also need to make people feel comfortable providing their credit card information. A hotel booking engine can help build traveler’s trust and increase their likelihood to convert by:
- Creating a truly seamless experience. It should appear to be on your hotel website, rather than passing a guest along to an unknown new URL
- Inheriting the design and appearance of your website to show guests that they have not left your website
- Passing data from your website to the booking engine – if they selected dates or room types on your site, they should not have to re-enter that data
- Integrating directly with your PMS for real-time updates and filtering
Your booking engine should also help your hotel by:
- Integrating with your PMS for operational efficiency and tighter control over direct booking
- Making it easy to analyze performance via Google analytics and tag manager
- Increasing direct revenue using OTA tactics like urgency messaging and comparisons
Fuel Travel has a booking engine trusted by hundreds of hotels to power their websites and ecommerce strategy. Our booking engine integrates with your existing tech stack for two-way, real-time room management. We have a host of features that help you sell more rooms, including urgency messaging and rate comparisons. To learn more, schedule a demo today.