Every hotelier, whether small or big, focuses on increasing direct bookings by lessening the dependency on third party sites or middlemen. If your hotel is able to receive direct bookings, the results will be really high as you can save on the commissions whilst nurturing your guests for a long period.
Booking engine – a potential revenue channel
The evolution of internet has allowed many businesses to grow through a website which lets you to conduct business and advertise services. The website is a powerful medium for small and mid-sized hoteliers as they can have more control and optimize as per their business requirements.
In today’s competent online world, where everyone goes online for booking flights, hotels and shopping, you cannot ignore the most important aspect which is the website booking engine. A booking engine can help you convert your website lookers into bookers. Most successful hotels have managed to up their sales by cutting out on OTAs. Tools like web, social and mobile booking engines are evolving over time to provide hoteliers a direct connect with their guests. (Also read: 6 ways to attract guests to your booking page)
To increase revenues, independent hoteliers must look beyond the third party sites and encourage bookings on their website. Not only does the booking engine reduce dependency on OTAs but also allows your staff to free up their time to focus on other important duties. Your website becomes a strong platform to generate significant amount of bookings.
Here’s looking at the many advantages of a web booking engine:
– Customer convenience: Since your website contains all the hotel information, it becomes easier for the guests to make a booking directly and receive instant email confirmation.
– Commission free: With a booking engine, you don’t have to pay a portion of your income to third party sites. Moreover, hotels will have complete control of their rate plan which ultimately leads to enhanced revenue.
– Brand building: The website provides a strong platform to build your brand identity.
– Automated work: The booking can be directly fed into your PMS system hence it doesn’t require any manual intervention from the staff. It ensures that bookings are made only during availability and all the required information is fed during the booking process along with confirmations. Since the system is automated, there is no possibility of your staff making errors while booking.
– Frees up time: Your hotel staff can use their free time engaging with guests and doing other productive chores as they don’t have to be restrained to the front desk anymore.
– Database building: Your guest’s data will be recorded during the booking and the data can further be used to market yourself to those guests.
– Add-ons: You can offer discounts and various packages to your guests on the website which are not available on any third party sites.
– Online payments: If you provide an automatic payment gateway with the booking engine, you can considerably reduce on the manual workload and provide your guests a safe and comfortable platform to pay.
It is important that your website booking engine be mobile compatible as by the end of 2014, the travel industry will see $25.8 billion from mobile booking market, which represents 8% of the total travel market and 18% of the online travel market. Therefore, with the growing importance of mobile in the travel industry, hotels might run into the risk of losing bookings if they don’t provide an easy to use and attractive booking interface on mobile. (Source: PhoCusWright research US Mobile Travel Report)
Apart from the web/mobile booking engine, you can also add the convenience factor to your guests’ booking by enabling a Facebook booking widget on your page as social media is the fastest growing category of Internet marketing for attracting new users.