In a previous blog post, we have talked about channel managers, how they work and why they are so important. We can all agree that a channel manager is a must unless you want to be swamped in rate updates, availability checks, bookings, etc.
Today, we are here to remind you of your property’s most valuable asset: your website as your direct sales channel, more specifically, your booking engine. Photos were taken to showcase the best parts of your property, all design decisions including colors and your logo were made, and you wrote a nice introduction text that tells the story of your property, now you have a complete website. But if your super cool website can’t let your visitors book, you’re missing out on a lot.
1. What is a booking engine?
Hotel booking engine, booking engine/system/widget/button are the names given to the software that enables online and secure room booking through a hotel’s own website or third-party applications such as Facebook. To simplify even more, a potential guest visiting your website will encounter a search engine directly on your website instead of calling your property for the available dates and room type or visiting an online travel agency’s website. Here, they can search by selecting criteria like the desired date range, room type, number of people, etc., and complete the online booking for the suitable date and room. The booking engine plays a key role in a property’s ability to receive bookings without intermediaries, thus increasing its revenues.
2. How does a booking engine work?
In order to have a booking engine, your property must first have a website. HotelRunner offers both website builder and booking engine services together. If your property has an existing website, the rest is a piece of cake. It is completely up to you to make the customizations you want to match the colors and fonts of your website. You will then be given a code that you can copy and paste onto your website. This code, which allows you to get bookings easily and securely, connects your website to your property inventory and displays your rates and availability in real-time. This up-to-date data coming through the booking engine is ideally updated instantly on your channel manager and your property management system. Thus, undesirable situations like overbookings are avoided.
Of course, the use of the booking engine does not have to be limited to the website of the property. You can receive bookings through your property’s official Facebook page too. Thanks to HotelRunner, similar to your website, you can add a booking engine to third-party applications like Facebook, allowing your potential guests to make bookings without wasting time.
3. What are the advantages of a booking engine?
The biggest advantage of having a functional booking engine on the official website of your property is to be able to get direct bookings. A booking engine reduces dependency on online travel agencies, no matter how necessary and useful they might be. Each booking you receive via your own website earns you much more than the bookings you get through any online travel agency. Thus, you gain an advantage over your competitors. With a good booking engine, it is up to you to receive a safe and online booking with the payment method you wish. You will not only increase your revenue but also offer your potential guests a smooth booking experience.
From which photos will be displayed on your own website to which descriptions will be written, from the services you offer in your property and rooms to their prices, everything is under your control. Your booking engine should be able to do more than being simply a direct sales tool and should allow you to offer promotions, special offers, and extras. We can hear you say, “I can have all these with online travel agencies as well”. The difference is that you are in complete control here. You can give special discounts and offers to your guests who choose to book on your website so you can conquer their hearts before their stay begins, starting a relationship that will last for a long time. You will sell more services, encourage longer stays, and earn more as a result.
One of the biggest advantages of the booking engine is that it eases your operational and administrative burden. Imagine the time you spend all day answering phone calls, replying emails, manually tracking bookings, and updating on other sales channels. Instead, you can switch to a self-service, simple but effective booking experience for both you and your guests by adding a booking engine to your website. In this way, you increase the productivity of your employees and ensure that their focus is where it should be, that is, on the guests.
4. Why do you need a booking engine?
Leaving aside the many advantages listed above, no matter how many rooms your property has, it is essential for you to have a website with a “Book Now” button in order to be visible in the industry and remain competitive. You need to remember that this is an element of prestige as well as a sales strategy.
More and more travelers visit a property’s website before booking and want to enjoy the advantages of a direct booking. Having all the information they can possibly get their hands on on the internet, they visit the property’s website for an authenticity check. Travelers looking for an original experience are aware that direct booking will be more discounted, smoother and faster, and they demand all of this. A property that does not offer the opportunity to make a booking through the website will be probably eliminated from the options immediately. Today’s new generation travelers don’t like long processes, being redirected from one page to the next, and having long conversations over the phone. Time is as valuable for everyone as it is for them. They expect to be able to view all the information and amenities on the website and to complete their bookings quickly and securely. At this point, a website with a booking engine means a great advantage that will put a property ahead of its competitors rather than being an alternative sales channel.
5. Which is the best booking engine?
Throughout the entire article, while many question marks in your mind have been solved and replaced with new ones, we come to the part you actually wonder the most about. When you search for “the best booking engine” on Google, you will see dozens of companies and hundred more blogs comparing them, and you will probably get a little more confused. Let us make things easier for you.
There are certain features you should look for in a good booking engine:
- Ability to make customizations suitable to the corporate identity of your hotel
- Technically strong and resilient infrastructure to provide a smooth booking experience
- Supporting multiple languages and currencies, as well as market-based pricing to attract your international visitors
- Integrations with real-time and reliable payment collection methods
- Providing the opportunity to offer extras, offers, and promotions
- Ability to send customized and automated emails for a more sincere communication with your guests
- Being mobile-friendly and offering a Facebook booking engine so that your potential guests can reach you anytime, anywhere
- Being fully integrated with the channel manager and hotel management system for real-time updates
- Google Analytics and Google Ads integrations to analyze the data you get through your direct bookings
- The opportunity to be visible and bookable on Google and Google Maps
To summarize, all of the features listed above are indispensable for a good booking engine, but the focus is on your property. It is very important that you can determine your needs and expectations correctly and your service provider should meet them. At this point where you need to make a choice that will affect the entire sales and marketing strategy of your property, working with a strong platform like HotelRunner that supports all of these features can provide your property a completely different opportunity.
6. How much does a booking engine cost?
If you have done your market research, you would have seen that there is a wide range of options but we have news that might cheer you up! HotelRunner offers all the products and services that will contribute to the sales, distribution, and marketing of a property, from the channel manager to the property management system, from the website to the booking engine, on a single platform. The best model awaits you at HotelRunner with different packages and offers suitable for your needs and budget, starting from freemium. All you have to do is decide which services you want to benefit from.
You can fill the contact form here to have detailed information about HotelRunner, the products and services we offer, and the pricing, or simply click here to start your 14-day free trial subscription and experience the platform yourself!