Best small hotel reservation software

Given how valuable direct bookings are, moving to online hotel reservation software is certainly the best option for your property. Be assured the reduced reliance on third-party booking sites to deliver reservations will be well worth it.

These channels are valuable and necessary but enjoying direct bookings via your website, social media pages, and metasearch sites like Google, will feel a lot better.

There are a lot of factors to consider however; your budget, your desired range of features, the amount of vendors on the market, and many more.

This page will take you through everything you need to know before making a purchase decision, giving you tips, information, and guiding the direction of your independent research into hotel reservation software.

Online hotel reservation system: General tips to identify the best provider

The very first thing you need to do is narrow down your pool of possibilities. There are countless hotel reservation system providers on the market so it’s easy to become overwhelmed with information.

One way to consolidate your list is to simply make sure you’re looking at brands that are aimed specifically at customers like you. Experience is also vital.

For example, Little Hotelier has more than 10 years of industry experience and was created with one goal in mind; to serve small hotels, B&Bs, guesthouses, motels, and other small accommodations. Knowing that your provider understands your unique challenges and goals, and works on developing products in this frame of mind makes a big difference.

Aside from this, general factors that will help you shave your list down include:

  • Cost
  • Brand reputation
  • Range of features
  • Functionality
  • Integrations
  • User experience

Hotel reservation system software: Non-negotiable functions

On your mission to make direct bookings grow and capture them easier, maintaining your brand image in the process, you can’t go without a number of features.

Your hotel reservation system software simply has to provide the following:

  • Direct reservations through your website, social media pages, and metasearch sites like Google
  • Pre and post stay messaging to help build and control your relationship with guests
  • Last-minute and early-bird bookings with easily displayed promotions
  • A model that allows multiple room types to be sold on your website
  • Gives you and guests a seamless checkout experience with an integrated payments solution
  • Lets you upsell, upgrade, and sell extras for added property revenue and value for guests
  • Integration power to other hotel systems
  • Attracts global travellers with multi-language and multi-currency capability

These are just some of the features you should look for. Others might include an auto-trigger function for guests who have completed a stay t leave a review on TripAdvisor. You just have to be clear about what your property needs and then make sure vendors can accommodate them.

Free hotel reservation software: Take a free trial

Taking a free trial is a risk-free way of assessing a provider’s pros and cons. During a free trial you’ll have full access to the hotel reservation software and use it to improve your business for no charge. You can spend time evaluating the benefits it brings to your property and taking note of any negatives or concerns. When the free trial is over you can weigh up your experience and decide if you want to continue to billing or cease your use of it. There won’t be any fee to pay and the results you enjoy are yours to keep.

Little Hotelier offers a 30-day free trial, which should be plenty of time for the platform to prove its value. When you sign up you should be contacted within one business day to get started. In one month, you’ll already be starting to see your business achieve stronger results; taking more direct bookings and putting more money in your own pocket instead of third-party booking channels.

Click here to try Little Hotelier for free.

Hotel reservation software free setup and training

The bonus of undertaking a free trial is that you hit the ground running when you actually begin to pay for your software.

When you commence a free trial all the setup for your property will take place along with the training you need. Dedicated staff will give you live guidance via calls and screen-sharing to get you started. You’ll also have access to training videos and articles to view in your own time.

It shouldn’t take more than a week to configure your software and for you to feel confident managing your reservations with the software.

Customer support is also very important. You should make sure your provider can offer support in your language and timezone so you aren’t caught unawares if you ever need assistance or want to offer product feedback. Your business is never really asleep so you’ll want a partner that has a global presence.

Hotel reservation software free download: Why a functional version doesn’t exist

There’s really no truly free substitute for the leading tech providers such as Little Hotelier or Cloudbeds. These companies spend a lot of time and money developing sophisticated technology for properties like yours.

For the service to keep improving and growing, it needs to be paid for – and ultimately this means your business will benefit from continued updates and new features.

A free forever download simply won’t consist of the powerful infrastructure required to run your property. It’s likely features will be more limited, support will be non-existent, integration won’t be available, you won’t have any idea when your software has become outdated. It’s very possible that using free downloadable software could leave you in more of a mess than you were in before.

Reasons to avoid a free download of a hotel reservation system

Basically, free downloads will be static pieces of technology; a product that never updates unless you actively download newer versions as time goes by. 

Here are plenty of reasons why you should avoid it at your property:

  • Restricted to Windows or Mac operating systems
  • Rely too heavily on stable internet connections
  • Clunky interfaces
  • Lack of advanced features
  • Little to no customer support (definitely not local or 24/7 support)
  • Can lack security measures and encryption
  • Not mobile responsive
  • Glitches regularly

In many cases the idea that ‘you get what you pay for’ holds true, and when it comes to hotel reservation systems it’s especially pertinent.

Free online hotel reservation software: Reviews and comparisons

Since taking a free trial is likely to be very close to your final purchase decision, it’s a good idea to perform an in-depth analysis of hotel reservation system providers. 

Investigating industry related review sites is the easiest way to do this, since you don’t have to do any digging yourself. Everything is laid out for you.

An example is Hotel Tech Report.

Here you’ll find aggregated scores and ratings for a whole range of things including ease of use, return on investment, implementation, integration, customer support, property suitability, pricing, and more. You’ll see individual ratings and general recommendation percentages. It’s also easy to compare providers since all will be listed on the site.

In addition, you can find tangible feedback from other hoteliers who have used the product. They’ll list their likes and dislikes, as well as overall scores too. This kind of feedback is very valuable since your peers have faced very similar challenges to you and have obviously sought the same solution. Their contribution should add a lot of confidence to your ultimate decision. 

You can also find reviews from hoteliers on social media pages. Every brand will have an account where you can view what people are saying online – and you can see how the company interacts with customers and followers.

Use case for a hotel reservation system

The use case for a hotel reservation system at your small property is very simple.

If you are unable to take direct bookings online through your website or social media, and can’t tap into metasearch sites like Google then a reservation system will solve all of this.

If you are finding it hard to manage the balance of your bookings between direct and third-party, a hotel reservation system will help you tip the balance in favour of direct. This will give you the chance to make more revenue from each guest and increase the profit margin of your business.

Using software that’s also integrated with other systems such as your property management system also makes your day to day back end tasks much quicker and easier. What used to take you hours can now be done automatically and in real-time by technology, meaning you should have more time on your hands to do the things that are really important to you, such as taking care of property maintenance or interact more strongly with guests.

How to choose a free hotel reservation system

Everything you’ve read above is to be taken into account when choosing your reservation system. Some factors will mean more to you than others depending on the unique situation of your business.

It can be helpful to ask yourself some questions and match the answers with the providers you are looking at. The ones that tick the most boxes are the ones you’ll focus on.

  • What am I hoping to achieve with hotel reservation software?
  • What features are most important to me?
  • What’s my budget?
  • Will the software make my life easier?
  • Will the experience be positive for guests when booking?
  • What’s my budget?

These are just a few examples to get you started. 

Price can obviously be a huge factor for small properties. In most cases, the cost of your reservation system will depend on the size of your property. The more rooms you have, the more you will have to pay.

Look for a provider that has a set monthly fee, rather than any based on transactions. Make sure you won’t be locked into a contract (unless you choose to) so you can stop using the service any time you see fit.

To see how your property might fit into this equation, check out Little Hotelier’s pricing scale here.


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