Do You Really Need a Hotel Reservation System?
As a property owner or front desk manager, one of your biggest fears is probably related to a double-booking - or even a lost reservation. When guests arrive for their stays, they’re often exhausted from a long trip or excited about starting their vacation. Either way, they don’t want to be held up by any hitches at the front desk. If you’re unable to guarantee that your guests have the rooms they need for as long as they need them, it’s not just embarrassing. It could mean an angry confrontation, a scathing online review, and ultimately a loss of business.
Along with clean sheets and comfortable surroundings, hotel owners need to provide their customers with the assurance that they will get exactly what they expect when they walk into the lobby. Anyone recall that episode of Seinfeld where Jerry said to the car rental employee, "See, you know how to take the reservation, you just don’t know how to hold the reservation and that’s really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody can just take them."
In the past, the only way to do this was to be meticulous about manually keeping records. The tried-and-true book of reservations was the go-to method for tracking who was staying and for how long. Unfortunately, it’s no longer feasible to rely on pen and paper alone. Even a trusty Excel spreadsheet is not going to cut it. Not only does taking reservations by hand introduce the potential for human error, but it ignores the fact that most people today book their trips online. This is why any establishment in the hospitality sector these days needs to have a robust and effective hotel reservation system in place, also often referred to as a property management system (or PMS). Read on to learn more about the advantages of online hotel booking and the forms it can take.
What is a Hotel Reservation System?
Simply put, this is a software solution that acts as a kind of virtual front desk that enables anyone looking for a room to reserve one by themselves. This is critical in the current landscape because so many travelers and vacationers are researching hotels and destinations online. Convenience is key in this regard, because most of them won’t want their search to lead to a phone number they have to call and potentially wait to speak with a representative. As more people become their individual travel agents, they want to be able to settle on a place to stay and book their rooms without delay.
What's the Purpose of a Hotel Reservation System?
The main function this provides is to give travelers a fast and convenient way to reserve a room directly from the hotel’s website or an affiliated online agent. This is extremely important given that many people don’t use travel agencies anymore and choose to find lodging on their own. Any hotel that doesn’t offer this functionality runs the risk of being passed over, even if it offers superior amenities to its competitors.
It also streamlines the entire process because it can work across multiple channels to make sure you're always sharing real-time availability and pricing. This means managers won’t have to worry about double-booking or overbooking because the system is updated automatically everywhere every time a room is booked.
What are the Benefits of a Hotel Reservation System?
Integrating this kind of platform into your website means you can offer guests the convenience of booking online. This increases conversion rates and allows for reservations to come in 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
But wait, there's more! Depending on the system, there are a wide variety of features available to help you manage your business.
For example, this type of software can reduce the burden on your front desk. Travelers who reserve rooms online fill out all of the most important details, agree to your policies, and even pay their deposit. Which means all your staff needs to do is make sure the room is ready before they arrive. With the process of reserving rooms automated, you can spend more time chatting with your guests about what really matters - the best place to grab dinner or the most convenient time to book that spa appointment.
Another key advantage is that it provides you with a large amount of information about their customers. Having detailed profiles of each customer gives hotel owners the ability to make more-informed decisions when it comes to marketing and improving service. This also helps with managing a loyalty or rewards program.
One benefit that shouldn’t be overlooked is how it reduces the potential for human error. Because guests enter their information, there’s less risk of misspelled names, incorrect dates, missing requests, or other embarrassing mistakes.
How Does a Hotel Reservation System Work?
More than a mere widget added to a hotel’s website, this kind of system is a sophisticated collection of modules that work together behind the scenes. The one that guests see is the booking engine, which integrates seamlessly with the website. Guests can search availability and pricing in real-time, choose the perfect room, and customize their stay with add-ons and packages. Completing their reservation is easy and can even include a deposit. From there, guests receive a personalized automated confirmation email and all of the pertinent details are passed on to the property management system. This is where staff can manage reservations and make adjustments as needed.
Hotel reservation systems are generally available as desktop software or cloud-based software. Cloud-based systems provide real-time distribution of bookings and rates and simplify operations. Having a cloud-based system also means you can access all of your information from anywhere you have an internet connection. You don't want to be tied to an office or front desk.
Often, you’ll see hotel reservations systems include or integrate with a channel manager, which collects and shares data to and from the OTAs (online travel agencies) and his ensures guests can book a room no matter what site they use without conflicts.
A hotel reservation system is an extremely valuable tool in today’s marketplace, and ThinkReservations can provide you with everything you need. Our solutions include a property management system, booking engine, and channel manager that can be fine-tuned to meet your property’s specific needs and requirements. To learn more about everything our robust, customizable systems can provide, get in touch with us today.