There are many ways you can sell your hotel rooms, but most will involve third parties, with all their associated commissions, or will rely on your staff actively processing bookings, most frequently by phone. These options are far from wholly effective, either for your bottom line or in terms of customer service. What you really need to do instead is to set up your own system with online booking software.

The first advantage is that it will allow you to sell rooms directly to customers, avoiding the commissions you’d have to pay to the OTAs. This is good for you, but it’s also good for your guests, many of whom will actually choose to visit your website and book directly after finding you on an OTA site. Booking by phone is rarely convenient, and booking by email involves waiting for a response. Online booking software allows you to offer 24/7 service, so customers with limited patience won’t be deterred. Furthermore, when the software is integrated with your other distribution channels, there’s no chance of inadvertently making a double booking.

The next advantage is that booking software handles reservations automatically, so you don’t need staff to be on hand to take calls, respond to inquiries, or input data. This reduces the chance of making mistakes, and leave staff free to handle other tasks. With booking software, it is the customer who has the job of inputting the data, while your system simply collects and stores the details.

When you take bookings through your own software, this gives you a great opportunity to get in touch with your guests before they come to stay with you – and this early contact gives you a chance to sell additional services. You might want to offer a room upgrade for a small fee, or perhaps sell tours if you are in the leisure sector. If your guest is arriving by air, you might consider offering an airport pick-up service. How would you know? Well, if your guest has booked direct, you may be able to gather this kind of information through your system, and then use it to tailor the services you offer to match your guest’s profile.

Once you have the guest’s data in your system, you can also (with their permission) keep in contact after their stay by sending email promotions which will meet their needs and entice them to return. This is something that is not so simple when guests books through other channels which don’t give you access to such a rich seam of data.

The last big advantage to online booking systems is that you can now coordinate your payment system. It is essential that customers are able to pay online, and therefore even more important that you can guarantee the security of the payment channel. If customers have any doubts about the integrity of the payment process you can easily lose bookings, but most online booking systems today will take care of this aspect for you, offering both you and your customers peace of mind.

As more and more aspects of commerce move online, it is vital that your hotel builds and maintains a strong online presence. It helps you to provide a better service to your customers, reduces your acquisition costs, and simplifies the workload for your staff. If you haven’t already done so, invest in online booking software today.