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Direct booking engines for independent hotels

Direct booking engines for independent hotels

Direct booking engines are defined as the processing systems that tourism establishments use to capture bookings. Based on this, a booking engine can be any marketing channel through which the customer can book with the hotel, such as OTAS (or “online travel agencies”) and social media. A direct booking engine is specific to the hotel’s […]

Direct booking engines are defined as the processing systems that tourism establishments use to capture bookings. Based on this, a booking engine can be any marketing channel through which the customer can book with the hotel, such as OTAS (or “online travel agencies”) and social media. A direct booking engine is specific to the hotel’s website and allows customers to book directly with the hotel without intermediaries. This means that the customer accesses the hotel’s website and uses the booking tool to select dates, rooms and other details, resulting in a booking that goes directly to the hotel’s reservation management system.

With these concepts in mind, direct booking engines take on key importance when marketing your independent hotel. With them, along with the right marketing and outreach strategies, the hotel can spend less money on middlemen and commissions. So using a booking engine, and especially a direct booking engine, is something you can’t ignore. Learn more about it with IHCS.

 

Importance of the direct booking engine

Most users nowadays decide to make their hotel bookings online, using booking engines. So much so that it is estimated that 70% of bookings are obtained in this way. Therefore, if your independent hotel does not integrate a direct booking engine, you would be losing many potential customers, not to mention that you would also be encouraging the user to book using an intermediary, for example.

Direct booking engines increase the amount of direct sales that are made, so the cost of acquiring new customers is significantly lower. This is because no commissions are paid to intermediaries.

Today’s users are known for wanting immediate results, and that is something you can only offer with a direct booking engine. This way the customer does not have to wait for a confirmation or availability email. In fact, with this tool you can provide information immediately.

Finally, another important reason to use direct booking engines is that it allows you to offer users all kinds of exclusive offers, activities and special products. This is because with these engines the communication is directly with the customer.

 

Creating your direct booking engine

As an independent hotel owner, you can create and implement your own direct booking engine by following the steps below:

Assess your needs and budget

First of all, you need to determine what features and functionalities you need for your booking engine, such as room types, rates, real-time availability and payment options. Also consider the budget you have available for the development and maintenance of the booking engine, as much of the development will depend on it.

 

Create your website

The website is a fundamental tool for the implementation of any marketing strategy, especially when it comes to getting bookings. Your website is the main window that connects your independent hotel to the world. That’s why you should develop it with your budget in mind.

 

Choose a technological solution

Once you have created your website, you can choose between three options for a booking engine:

  • Develop a customised booking engine on your website.
  • Buy a licence for a pre-developed software.
  • Use a third-party solution.

Of course, choosing between the first and second option is always the most desirable.

 

Hire a developer or company

If you decide to develop a booking engine on your website, you will need a developer or web development team with experience in programming and designing online booking systems. This option would be ideal, because buying a license for an already developed software is usually a bit more expensive, not to mention that in case of updates to the programme you will probably have to make other investments and you will not have customisation as a key aspect.

 

Integrate the developed engine with the hotel’s website.

The booking engine should be seamlessly integrated into the hotel’s website. This will ensure that visitors can easily access it and make their bookings without any problems.

 

Configure the various options and rates

Configure the different room options, rates, cancellation policies and other relevant variables for your booking engine. This will allow customers to choose the options that best suit their needs.

 

Integrate real-time availability

It is essential that the booking engine displays real-time room availability. This involves integration with the hotel’s property management system (PMS) to ensure that bookings are automatically updated.

Add secure payment processing

Make sure your booking engine has secure online payment processing options. Of course, this means integrating trusted payment gateways.

Conduct thorough testing

Before launching the live booking engine, run extensive tests to make sure everything is working properly and there are no errors.

 

Launch and promote

Once your booking engine is ready, advertise it on your website and promote it on your marketing channels to attract visitors to make direct bookings.

Keep your booking engine active

It is important that your website and booking engine remain up to date and functional. In addition, it is also essential to respond to customer feedback and suggestions to continuously improve the booking experience.

Remember, however, that implementing a direct booking engine can take time and resources, but it can be a valuable investment to encourage direct bookings and reduce reliance on intermediaries.

 

The best option for independent hotels

Despite the attractiveness of direct booking engines, it is a reality that implementing them can be a large investment of money. This is why the most feasible and viable option for most independent hotels is to contract the services of a third party online booking tool. At this point, there are many options, and the choice between one or the other will depend not only on the characteristics of your hotel, but also on the characteristics of the provider. Thus, when choosing a provider, it is important to choose the one that best integrates with the image of the independent hotel and that offers the best flexibility, security, data analysis, technology and payment system. If you have doubts about how to proceed in this regard, remember that a hotel consultancy with extensive experience in the sector such as IHCS can help you.

Likewise, the chosen booking engine should be easy to manage and integrate well with the hotel’s work tools. Not to mention that it should also be attractive to the client, while being responsive and adjustable to the budget you have.

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