New to the idea of a booking engine for your hotel, bed and breakfast or vacation rental?
Whatever the case, we’re here to make things a little clearer. So, here are the basics to finding the perfect online vacation rental, B&B and hotel booking engine button for your business.
What is a booking engine?
A hotel booking engine is a software application that plugs into your website and allows you to take online bookings securely through your own website.
What is a booking button?
You may have heard of a booking button in relation to a booking engine.
A booking button is a button you can add to your website that will allow you to take direct bookings from your website (commission-free in the case of eviivo).
When a user clicks on the booking button, they are taken to a booking page or ‘booking engine’ that looks like your website but has all the functionality to take online bookings.
It helps your customers with a seamless transaction to book their stay with you online.
How does a hotel booking engine work?
A booking engine hooks up to your website if you already have one.
Guests enter their details on your website in order to securely book a room and (if integrated with a pms accommodation software) the booking software synchronises the booking information with your calendar so that you can manage the booking.
This can be incorporated into a new website for you so you can start taking bookings online.
Or, if you’re already happy with your accommodation website, you can add a booking engine via a booking button. Guests click on the ‘book now’ button and are redirected to your booking engine to input their details and secure their reservation. And that’s how a booking engine works!
Do you need a hotel booking engine?
If you plan on taking bookings online via your own website, then the simple answer is yes, you need a booking engine.
These days, hotels, B&Bs, self-catering accommodation and apartment rentals all need to be bookable online. Numerous studies have shown that that’s what guests want.
If you only take bookings via the telephone then you’re cutting yourself off from a huge chunk of business.
As another high-end option to build a hotel or vacation rental website, eviivo has its own WordPress plugin, which works seamlessly with all of eviivo’s other products but could also be used as a standalone way to build your dream website.
All this new tech avoids the need to manually re-record booking details in your calendar. Which isn’t as reliable and is a lot more time-consuming than a proper hotel booking engine.
What are the benefits of using a booking engine?
There are many! So take a look at the booking engine benefits we’ve listed!
Benefits of booking engine software:
- Fill more rooms with more direct bookings
- Avoid double-bookings & streamline your admin
- Global bookings
- Safe & secure
- Fewer no-shows
- Bookable 24/7
- Business insights
- Take share from OTAs
Fill more rooms with more direct bookings
It goes without saying that having a booking engine on your accommodation website will increase your occupancy rate.
It also increases the percentage of your direct bookings.
This is because guests can book instantly and are less likely to book elsewhere or through an online travel agent (OTA).
Direct bookings are a huge bonus for hosts and hoteliers because they are commission-free and there’s no need to pay a portion of your hard-earned cash to an online travel agent.
Avoid double-bookings & streamline your admin
If you have a booking calendar or PMS accommodation booking software, you can integrate with a booking engine and all of your direct online bookings will be transferred automatically to your electronic calendar.
This means there is no more room for human error or double bookings!
This will save you hours in tedious admin and leave you free to get on with the more important stuff.
Another benefit for your accommodation website is that it encourages bookings from overseas, by offering payments in different currencies and translations of your descriptions in a variety of languages, making it easier for guests from around the world to book.
Safe & secure
With integrated payment software, you’re able to take payments simply and securely from guests. There’s no need to wait until your guests arrive to take payment!
Booking engines have the ability to request deposits from guests in order to secure their booking.
With a financial commitment already made, guests are more likely to show up in order to avoid a penalty.
Handling and reducing cancellations is particularly important for independent hotel and bed and breakfast booking engines, as these can cause more of a hit to the business’s bottom line.
For overseas visitors in different time zones – and night owls – this is especially important.
You want the booking process to be as easy as possible for customers, and having an automated, online booking system allows you to take reservations while you’re asleep or otherwise occupied.
The best booking engines for hotels will provide an accommodation performance analytics dashboard to monitor your websites bookings in easy-to-digest reports.
If you’re able to interpret these and adapt to your customers’ behaviours, you’ll be able to tweak your site or booking process to minimise the chances of potential guests being put off and maximise the chances of them booking.
Take share from OTAs
Customers often prefer to book directly on property websites over travel websites because they are often cheaper.
Did you know that 52% of guests who book online visit the accommodation’s website before booking – even if they don’t book on the accommodations’ own website?
Therefore, if your website can take direct bookings you can try to convert all of these guests who might otherwise have booked your property via an OTA site – and save yourself a bill for commission.
How do you build a hotel booking engine for your website?
Fortunately, you don’t need to know how to build one for your website as that’s what a booking engine provider is for!
They do all the hard work connecting your website booking engine, merchant payment accounts and integrate your property management system (Hotel PMS) if you have one.
All of this would cost £1,000’s in upfront & month-to-month web developer fees.
For a small monthly fee, you have an always up-to-date booking engine.
So that’s why all accommodation providers outside of enterprises opt for, subscription software.
How much does an online booking engine cost?
The truth is: it varies. Booking engines can range in price but most are charged per room. Therefore, the larger your property, the more you pay.
What is the best booking engine for hotels, B&Bs and vacation rentals?
Well, that depends on your budget and what features you want. There are many hotel booking providers with slightly different rates and features.
We would advise doing a comparison based on your property type to get the best booking engine for you. When you do, see what they provide for the following:
- Budget & pricing
- Setup & training
- Payment security, such as PCI Level 1 compliance
If you have a property management system (PMS) you may want to look for a booking engine that offers full integration with your PMS, and can offer:
- Promotion codes & offers
- Guest communication emails
Always ask for a demo of a product with a salesperson, so someone can talk you through how to use the software, and you can decide what booking engine features are right for you.
In summary, a booking engine is a necessity for accommodation providers who want to make it in the world of online booking.
If you’re looking for a booking engine for hotels, B&B’s, rental properties or serviced apartments, have a look at what eviivo can offer.