Did you find picking the right booking engine for your business a prime headache? You are not alone. As with everything from washing powder to website hosting solutions, every single suspect will claim their product is the best, cheapest or highest performing. Meanwhile, you scratch your head and think: “Surely they’re all pretty much the same?”
Coming to think of it, that's a legitimate question: Are the various booking engines really that different? And if some are so much better than others, or more suitable for your business, how on earth can we cut through the jargon and reach something more evidence based?
FACT: All booking engines are different and can make a big impact on your business success!
How to choose the right booking engine: Pros, cons and reviews
For anyone confused about booking engines, you are not alone. Every online reservation system has its own hype, whether we are talking free and open source or propriety. Worse, there tend to be few reviews that cover various systems, as it is tricky if not impossible for a single property to test several out at length. After all, different systems suit different businesses and what works for Peter might not pay off for Paul.
You can make a start with this by using friends or customers to use different booking engines then. Equally, another good tip might be to approach any friendly businesses with similarities to yours and see what their notes are on the system(s) they have used. Here are just some of the questions to ask:
- How secure is this system? Does it protect my customers against data breaches?
- How simple or complex is the system (compared to what my business offers!) Can it be customised as I want?
- Does it incorporate features like a reward scheme and other bonuses I might want in the mix?
- If my clientelle book from other countries, does the system work across different currencies smoothly?
- How long has the system been around for? Is it trusted and reliable? Easy to update?
- What does it cost to run? Are there hidden costs? Note that many "free" systems require payment to get at more desirable or advanced features.
Ultimately though, many of these judgments will be subjective and you will need more solid evidence to make a smart decision.The only fair answer is therefore to look at the statistics and trial results from across a range of properties that all use different booking engines. This way we can see how the outcomes compare, rather than use reviews or sales pitches.
How do we do this? As a hospitality marketing agency with a long record of trialling different solutions we can use Google analytics to get under the skin of different booking engines. This way, we can see what the data tells us about performance. We have done this for many hotels and businesses, allowing access to crucial insights into the booking process.
In plain English, we look at various factors, but primarily how well they convert website visitors who start the booking process to those that see it through to completion. But here’s the difference: our verdicts are based on clear evidence and detailed analysis.
Booking engines on trial…
Our tests and analytics have included a whole host of booking engine providers including:
Booking Button, Siteminder, Guestcentric, Guestline, Synxis, Hotel Perfect, Availpro, Super Control
We do benchmarking on the performance of these websites and booking engines to see which work best. We then share this data with our individual clients, based on their own needs, to help them improve their marketing, websites, booking rates and online revenue.
Should I change my booking engine?
Changing booking engine can be a pain, but could be a worthwhile step if you suspect you are losing sales. Many properties like to keep their PMS (Property Management System) and add the best performing booking engines to their website that integrate with their PMS. This does not need to be costly, but we have seen this result in considerable uplift in bookings and revenue taken online. Again, evidence and trialling is key, which is where we come in.
Do you have any questions, or are looking to see which booking system is right for your business? Click here to get in touch with us today!
Useful links and further reading:
TOP 5 Free and Open Source Booking Engines: https://blog.capterra.com/top-free-and-open-source-hotel-booking-engine-software-solutions-compared/
Current booking engines reviewed and ranked (2018): https://www.softwareadvice.com/uk/hotel-management/reservation-comparison/
Top 10 Most Common Website Problems and Solutions: https://www.clock-work.co.uk/blog/general/top-10-most-common-website-problems-and-solutions