What is a Booking Engine: 5 features to choose the best
11 February 2023
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In this article from the Octorate Blog, we are going to understand what is a Booking Engine and, above all, what it is used for! Discover below how to increase the performance of your accommodation thanks to a tool that has become essential for those who are in the Hospitality industry in 2022! At the end of the article, you will also receive 5 useful tips for choosing the best Booking Engine in the market.
If you don’t know what is a Booking Engine, all you need to know is that it is an online booking software, which allows accommodations to receive reservations directly on their website, turning it into a real sales channel.
In fact, in addition to using external web portals such as OTA, GDS or Metasearch, property managers can sell their rooms or flats online using a personal website and allowing users, using a schedule, to also consult room availability and rates in real time.
The type of booking that takes place through a Booking Engine is therefore defined as ‘direct booking‘, when the customers manage to book without the help of those intermediary solutions such as OTA, GDS and Metasearch (find out more about which are the top 10 vacation rental websites to list your property).
The main advantage of using a Booking Engine is the possibility of receiving direct bookings directly on your own website. In this way, as we have already said, you avoid the unpleasant commissions that online portals apply to reservations (even if the presence on OTA remains fundamental to maintain a high level of visibility and online distribution).
In the same way, however, the introduction of a Booking Engine in your website also allows you to build customer loyalty and improve their travel experience, thanks to additional services that can be implemented in the software.
Services such as the Payment Manager – which allows easy and safe payments to be received worldwide thanks to payment gateways implemented in the service – and the Digital Concierge – which, on the other hand, allows to manage all the aspects of the booking to ensure a 360° buying experience for the customer through an optimized communication before, during and after the stay – or Automatic Check-in.
To sum up, therefore, we can say that the Booking Engine advantages can be summarized as:
- Higher profit for accommodations
- A higher conversion rate on the website
- Higher security during online transactions
- Possibility of selling additional products and services combined with the reservation
- Time savings for both customers and accommodations, especially if we add the use of a Channel Manager
Now that you understand what is a Booking Engine, it’s time to see the possibilities and the areas of application of these booking systems. Accommodations that make the far-sighted choice to equip themselves with a Booking Engine can receive direct reservations using :
- A registration form through which visitors will ask for availability
- A “book now” button placed in a visible and highly clickable place on the website
- Through social networks such as Facebook (Meta)
- Create a dedicated booking page on your website
It has to ensure a simple and intuitive booking experience
A Booking Engine should offer an easy, fast and intuitive booking experience. In particular, the check-out phase should offer an excellent experience to prevent abandonment rates (just like in e-commerce). The most important aspects to check are responsiveness, or optimization for mobile devices, and the loading and running speed of the check-out page, which, if too long, can wear customers out and lead them to turn to the competition.
Possibility of customization
The possibility of customizing and personalizing your booking engine is another crucial aspect of choosing the best booking engine on the market. Flexibility and adaptation allow you to meet all the requirements of potential customers, moving from a one-to-many to a one-to-one model. In fact, a booking engine is a real business card that must reflect the brand identity of your accommodation.
The most important possibilities when choosing a Booking Engine are:
- Possibility to edit the CSS code to conform to the look & feel of your website
- Multilingual options to expand your audience and open up your market to as many customers as possible
- Possibility of accepting foreign currencies and integration with Payment Gateway to automate the entire payment process, receiving payments and sending invoices directly from your site.
Promo and Upselling
A strategy to increase sales and profits in the hotel and hospitality industry includes the ability to offer tailor-made promotions for specific customers and the availability of upselling solutions and additional services to improve the customer experience and at the same time increase profits of your accommodation.
In a recent study written by Expedia Group, we even read that 50% of travelers are more likely to book an extra night if a discount on their room is offered.
Possibility of integration with third-party software
The efficiency of a Booking Engine also depends on its ability to communicate with the other tools and instruments that make up your technical property management set-up.
The most important connections for a booking engine are with tools such as:
- Channel Manager and PMS – In order for your prices and availabilities displayed on the booking engine to be seen in all your distribution channels accurately and equally, your Booking Engine must be fully compatible with the Channel Manager you use. That’s why – although the opposite is possible – it is preferable to choose a Channel Manager and a Booking Engine that are supplied by the same provider. And the use of a Channel Manager is a must for accommodation providers: five or more channels get up to 50% more bookings than those that are simply connected to one or two channels. (also read our in-depth analysis if you don’t know what a Channel Manager is).
- Analytics and Social Media
- Metasearch – A Metasearch is a platform that collects information on prices and availability of accommodations. Metasearch (such as Trivago, Google Hotel Ads or Tripadvisor) allow potential customers to compare all the offers present on different online sales channels, and represent a very important connection for a booking engine. In fact, the way travelers search for hotels today is changing rapidly. Almost three quarters of travelers use meta search engines in their hotel search process!
The last aspect to evaluate the efficiency and quality of a Booking Engine is its security. For this reason, the booking engine should always serve HTTPS protected urls with an up-to-date SSL certificate. In addition, the provider of the Booking Engine should make it compliant with the PCI DSS and SCA guidelines.
If you are now convinced of the advantages of using a Booking Engine, and now that you have identified the best characteristics for choosing one, you are probably thinking about who to contact to include one on your website. Let’s explain one point. For the features we have seen in the previous paragraph, the best Booking Engines are not for free, given the complexity of the services offered.
The Octorate Booking Engine is one of the most demanded booking engines because it incorporates all the features indicated in the paragraph on how to choose the best Booking Engine, at the most attractive prices on the market.
Have a look at some of its main features and see yourself how you can fully customise the management of the reservations of your accommodations:
- PCI-DSS level 1 compliant
- Credit card bookings
- Automatic booking form with guest language recognition
- Customization of Online Booking colors and booking forms
- Options Management (automatic reopening of availability)
- Tableau of reservations which can be exported to Excel©.
- Joomla, WordPress, Drupal and all the main CMS compatibility
- Virtual Rooms and Non-Refundable Prices
- Restrictions (Minimum stay and closure on arrival)
- Ticket Assistance
- Childcare services
- Tourist tax
- Receipts Generation and Management
- Interactive Map of Events, Weather Forecast and Facebook Plugin
- Booking Engine for Restaurants integrated with Reserve with Google
Curious? Good. To start receiving your direct bookings now, fill in the form below to start using the Booking Engine and the whole Octorate suite for free, for 14 days!
🎫 What is a Booking Engine?
A Booking Engine is an online booking software, which allows accommodations to receive reservations directly on their website (we therefore talk about “direct reservations”), turning them into a real sales channel.
🎁 What is a Booking Engine used for?
The main advantage of having a Booking Engine on one’s own website is that it allows the accommodations to receive direct bookings, without the commissions applied by the intermediary service. More generally, here are other advantages of the Booking Engine:
- Higher margin of profit for accommodations
- Higher conversion rate
- More security in online transactions
- Possibility of selling products and services linked to the reservation
- Time saving for both customers and accommodations, especially when combined with the use of a Channel Manager
🖥 How to include a Booking Engine in your website?
Accommodations which have a Booking Engine can include it on their website:
- In a registration form through which guests will ask for availability
- Using the “book now” button
- Through social networks such as Facebook (Meta)
- In a specific booking page on your website.
🥇 What are the features to choose the best Booking Engine?
There are five main characteristics for choosing a professional booking engine:
- It has to ensure an intuitive and easy booking experience
- Customization possibilities, including:
- Possibility to edit the CSS code to conform it to the look & feel of your website.
- Multilingual options to widen your audience and open your market to as many customers as possible
- Possibility of accepting foreign currencies and integration with Payment Gateway to automate the entire payment process and receive payments and send invoices directly from your site.
- Ability to reserve tailor-made promotions for specific customers and availability to offer additional solutions and services (upselling)
- Compatibility with third-party software, such as Channel Manager, PMS, Analytics, Social Media and Metasearch
- It has to be reliable
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