Technology has travelled from the Information age to what some call the ‘Experience age’. In contrast to the core premise of the information age, where accumulated details formed one’s digital identity, the experience age relies on continuous self-expression and un-apparent virtual profiles. Here, people share stories visually and the narratives are more literal than ever. Attention in return for visual inputs is all this game is about. To bank on this, hoteliers need to build the right arsenal of tools and a website-based booking software could surely be a step in the right direction. In this blog, we will delve into the details of what a web booking engine is, how your hotel business could benefit from it and more importantly, what those key aspects are that you must keep in mind before you fix one for yourself.
What is a web booking engine?
A web booking engine is a system which, through your hotel’s website, allows interested audience members to check availability of rooms, rates offered and make reservations, as per their requirement, all in an easy, hassle-free, and quick manner. In addition to that, a constructive web booking system also integrates with a property management system (PMS) to update guest records in real-time, as well as with a channel manager to effectively distribute available inventory. This not only pushes bookings through the website, but also manages reservations on other online distribution channels and while website visitors are happy to be greeted with a seamless booking process, you can profit from increased commission-free bookings.
Before you decide on which booking software to opt, make sure that it has these key features listed below, which would benefit you in the long run:
1). Visual appeal:
As touched upon previously, it’s the visual impact made by your website and more notably by your web booking engine that prompts visitors to leave as customers. An online booking system such as the AxisRooms Web Booking Engine is designed to help customers navigate easily and displays appealing imagery of your property to entice visitors, as well as lays out a visual calendar to give a clear idea about room availability.
2). Simple and speedy reservations:
When an interested candidate reaches your website to learn more about your property, to get a better look at the pictures or videos and to make a reservation, the last thing he/she would want to encounter is a time-consuming and tedious process. They would not want to be redirected to another page to conclude the booking or payment procedures. A booking system which has a simple form to fill out, with only the basic information necessary to make a reservation being asked for, but enough information being given out to help in decision-making, would be ideal to ensure that visitors don’t lose interest and get diverted elsewhere.
3). Accessibility on mobile platforms:
The dominance of mobile technology in the experiences we attribute to the digital world is sure to have caught your eye. Customer expectations are leading the way in developing mobile strategies. A hotel booking engine which does not restrict its users to a desktop and allows them to make reservations through their mobile devices is favourable in tapping into the number of reservations made through mobile platforms.
4). Adaptability to multiple currencies and languages:
When you have an audience, which transcends boundaries and reaches far and wide, your web booking engine must also be built in with features that give them a feeling of inclusivity. An engine that adapts to multiple currencies and languages would help your visitors in easily making their bookings.
5). Social media connectivity:
It would be safe to assume that a large portion of your audience consists of social media users. It is therefore only a matter of prudence to adopt a web booking engine which connects to these platforms and eases bookings.
6). Customer incentives through deals and discounts:
Offering deals, promo-codes and discounts on bookings is a great way to incentivize your customers for choosing your hotel over others. A booking software that allows users to take advantage of these, during the booking process, without disruptions is definitely an aspect to pay close attention to.
7). Collection of valuable customer data:
Customers closely interact with a web booking engine in order to make reservations. It should therefore be able to collect information about the visitors and map patterns such as the kind of room types preferred, the high yield periods of a year etc. This kind of information can be utilized by hoteliers in implementing revenue management tactics to increase yearly yields and rooms can be offered at rates, which are in-line with the demand and supply. On integrating with a channel manager software, such as that offered by AxisRooms, a booking engine is also able to automatically update the room inventory across online channels such as travel agents etc.
8). Pre-arrival and post-departure emails:
An online scheduling system helps hoteliers to maintain the lines of communication with their patrons. On making a booking on a hotel’s website through a booking engine, users immediately receive a mail to confirm their reservation and to provide any other necessary details. Similarly, when guests leave a property, a booking engine sends out another email to gather their feedback, which in turn helps hoteliers in maintaining a positive online reputation.
9). Payment Gateways & other merchant services:
Your booking engine must allow visitors to not only review inventory, availability, and rates, but must also facilitate bookings through easy payment methods. Its ability to integrate with multiple payment gateways and other merchant services would help keep the booking process uncomplicated.
10). Data security and breach protection:
Customers are aware about the threats to data security and therefore have concerns surrounding its protection. A web booking engine must provide data security and shield the hotel’s website from any potential breach.
The options for web booking engines available in the market are plenty. However, the one that suits your needs would have to be sought with careful thought and sufficient research. It is always advisable to try a software for a considerable period of time before you make your final decision. Pick a company, like AxisRooms, which reflects confidence in its product, by allowing interested people to try it before making a purchase. It not only provides an easy to manage hotel booking engine, but also integrates with Property Management Systems and Channel managers to provide you a one stop solution to manage your property.