As an accommodation provider, your website is vitally important in acquiring reservations for your establishment. However, potential guests who visit your website are likely to have the expectation of being able to make an online availability check and room reservation. This one-stop convenience saves your website visitors the bother of sending repeated emails or faxes to enquire about and then confirm their reservation. The Internet has now made this process easy, but is your website able to automatically convert these potential customers into confirmed online reservations?
Statistics show that more and more people are making their accommodation reservations directly online, a trend that is set to continue – highlighting the importance of providing this facility to your customers. Add to this the advantages of taking reservations on a 24/7 basis whilst freeing up time normally spent on the telephone and your online reservation facility should show a rapid return on investment.
Fact: This year more than 50% of hotel reservations are expected to be made online.
All bed and breakfasts, guest houses, rental villas other accommodation providers must now embrace e-commerce or lose out to their competitors.
A website that facilitates online room reservations will typically offer its visitors:
An Availability Check Facility. This enables the user to make a real-time check on room vacancies for specific room types on specific dates.
Confirmed Room Reservations. Allowing the user to confirm the reservation online and receive a comforting confirmation screen and/or email.
Online Payment Facility. Requiring the customer to make an up-front deposit or full room payment online.
The whole process is automated, saving you time and the bother of juggling with room allocations. An additional benefit should be a dramatic fall in the number of no-shows. Of course, you can still provide the option of old fashioned telephone and email reservations in case any of your customers prefer this method.
Nowadays, online room reservations are no longer the preserve of large hotels and tour operators. The development of easy-to-use online reservation services ensures that the smallest of bed and breakfast or self-catering establishments can now jump on the e-commerce bandwagon. Such services are increasingly easy to configure and integrate into your own website and enable online payments to be taken, usually without the need for you to set-up a merchant account for bank card processing.
There are many online room reservation services available. Most (but not all) charge a commission on each reservation in addition to set-up and/or annual fees. We recommend using the following checklist when you choose your provider:
Cost Checklist - Compare the following.
Commission Rates: These typically range from 0% to 15% of the total booking value.
Set-up Costs: These can range from free to several hundred pounds.
Annual Fees: These are more likely to apply if the commission rate is low.
Features Checklist - Compare the following.
Configuration: You should be able to
~ Configure and describe each room individually.
~ Set room rates, including last minute and promotional discounts.
~ View, insert and edit bookings on your computer.
Integration: Check if you can add the system to your website and directory listings.
Payment Processing Facility: You should be able to
~ Accept secure online payments.
~ Automatically confirm reservations, usually by auto-generated emails.
Reporting: Check that you can view sales reports on your computer.
Distribution: Does the provider have online distribution partners who will promote your establishment?
Fact: More travel is sold online than any other consumer product.
An example of an online room reservation service that is specifically designed for small establishments such a bed and breakfasts, guest houses or even single unit holiday rental apartments is Thor. Most notably, the service is completely commission free, whilst charging only a modest annual subscription fee, easily bringing it within the range of the smallest guest accommodation establishments. The set-up and configuration of the system is very easy, requiring no specialist computer knowledge and not even the need to download software to your computer. Thor is a good option for your first venture into online room reservations.
We thought that the Thor system we so easy to use that we have integrated it into our own B&B, guest house and rental accommodation website creation tool, Simplicity Websites.
Create a professional looking and engaging experience for your website visitors and give your business a winning edge by providing online room reservations.
Get started and build a website with online room reservations NOW!
It's FREE and we won't ask for any payment details.