What is a hotel booking site?
A hotel booking site is an online platform where hoteliers can list their property and guests can reserve their rooms. In the hospitality industry, it is often formally referred to as a booking channel or an online distribution channel since accommodation providers can use them to sell their rooms and take reservations online.
Hotel reservation websites come in many forms, but some of the most popular ones are online travel agents (OTAs) such as Hotels.com and comparison or metasearch platforms such as Tripadvisor.
This blog will give you a full guide to all booking sites.
Why are hotel booking sites important?
Hotel booking sites are important because they provide hoteliers an avenue for increasing their online visibility, making it easier to reach their target audience and increase hotel reservations.
Travellers also feel more at ease when making secure reservations through reputable hotel booking sites. Plus for them, it is generally cheaper to book a hotel online than at the hotel itself.
Undeniably, a growing number of people are opting to book their accommodations online, whether several months in advance or just a few days before their stay, so hotel booking sites play a crucial role in attracting guests and driving higher occupancy.
How do hotel booking sites work?
For hoteliers, the first step with a hotel booking site is applying to have your rooms or property listed. Once accepted, you can fill these listings up with details about amenities, set policies, manage bookings, add photos, and otherwise show off how awesome your hotel is. Once live, guests can then find your hotel by searching through the hotel search engine or through a metasearch engine, usually listed among a number of other accommodation options that fit the search criteria.
When a traveller decides to book a room at your hotel, the booking site facilitates the transaction. They handle the booking process, payment collection, and customer service. In return, they charge a commission on each booking made through their platform. The details of this commission will depend on the platform; some OTAs charge much more than others, some have different pricing bands, and practically all of them have different rules on when they expect commission to be paid.
At the most basic level, all you need to do is make that initial listing, and the hotel booking site manages the admin. That said, many hoteliers prefer to have more control and oversight on their listings, especially if they have multiple listings across multiple hotel booking sites. That’s when they invest in a channel manager to take back some control.
Top 12 hotel booking website list
SiteMinder, the world’s leading hotel commerce platform, reveals its annual rankings of the top sources that generated the most hotel booking revenue over 15 countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and more. According to their report, 12 of the best hotel booking sites in the U.S.A. are:
- Expedia Group
- Hotel websites (direct bookings)
- Global distribution systems (GDS)
- British Airways Holidays
Best hotel booking sites for international small accommodation providers
Choosing the right hotel booking site can significantly impact the visibility and bookings of small accommodation providers. The ideal platform can vary depending on your location and target market. Here, we’ve compiled a list of the best hotel booking sites for small hotels in the United Kingdom and Spain, aiming to help you make an informed decision and boost your online presence.
The best hotel booking sites for small hotels in the United Kingdom are:
- GTA Travel
- TripAdvisor Connect
The best hotel booking sites for small hotels in Spain are:
Online booking sites examples for small hotels
There’s no shortage of online booking sites for your hotel. Little Hotelier provides connections to more than 450+! You’re spoiled for choice. However, not every OTA is a good fit for your hotel, and not all of them are as valuable as others. The hardest part of using a hotel booking site is making sure the partnerships that you do strike are suited for your small property.
We’ve created a list of the most profitable booking sites for small accommodation providers across the globe – based on what actually worked for our customers. These are a mix of different options, often focusing on different aspects and features of small hotels – whether that’s a broad brush booking site that exposes you to every possible type of traveller like Booking.com, or focusing on specific markets like Agoda does with Asia.
Part of the Priceline group, Booking.com is the world’s biggest accommodation website. More than 6.3 million room nights are booked on the site every week (over 950,000 per day). They have recently expanded their inventory into the small accommodation provider market – especially family-run bed and breakfasts, self-catering apartments, and vacation rentals.
Expedia is a major player in the OTA space. In total, they own 200+ travel booking sites, 150+ mobile websites in nearly 70 countries and 35 languages. Part of their suite of websites are the likes of Hotels.com, Orbitz, Egencia, Travelocity, Hotwire, and Trivago.
Hostelworld.com is the world’s leading hostel-focused online booking platform, selling your property through its website and over 3,500 distribution partners (including Lonely Planet), in 23 different languages. It recently acquired another popular hostel accommodation website called Hostelbookers.
Agoda is part of the Priceline group, and it is one of the fastest-growing online hotel platforms worldwide. It is most prominent in Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, and Taiwan. It operates in 38 different languages, and has over 11 million hotel reviews.
LateRooms gives you access to its website users, as well as its sister site, AsiaRooms.com. Through it, you expose your property to lots of different types of bookers, but they have a strong presence amongst last minute bargain hunters. They put your hotel in extensive advertising campaigns, driving more and more customers to the site. They also have partnerships with over 1,500 affiliate sites throughout the internet.
6. GTA Travel
GTA Travel is a well-known global wholesaler of hotels, and has been in operation for over 40 years. Each day, they process tens of thousands of bookings, and each year, they sell 12 million room nights in more than 25 languages online and throughout the world. They are particularly strong in mid range 3* and 4* properties.
Orbitz Worldwide operates Orbitz.com, CheapTickets.com, ebookers.com, HotelClub.com, RatesToGo.com, Asia-Hotels.com, RatesToGo.com, Asia-Hotels.com and OrbitzforBusiness.com. You can target your audience in many ways, including participating in major campaigns and exclusive promotions, and using creative dynamic package pricing.
As China’s leading travel website, Ctrip offers over 900,000 listings to its member base of 141 million members. Ctrip is a strong brand within China and dominates the local market.
Hotelbeds is a global business-to-business bedbank who connects properties to online travel agencies (OTAs), retail agencies, tour operators and airlines.
Budgetplaces was born in Barcelona, and now has over 50 destination-focused websites. They focus on directly contracting 1, 2, and 3 star hotels, hostels, apartments and bed and breakfasts worldwide. There are no set-up fees, maintenance costs, end-of-month bills, or binding contracts to sign up.
Booking sites are a great way to get more online bookings, but it doesn’t mean you should disregard other distribution channels, like…
- Your property’s website
- Retail travel agents
- Metasearch engines
- Tourism associations
4 reasons you should leverage online booking sites
As a small hotelier, you’re likely already aware of the significant role online booking sites play in the hospitality industry. These platforms can be instrumental in driving bookings and increasing your hotel’s visibility. However, to truly maximise their potential, it’s essential to understand and leverage the unique benefits they offer.
Here, we explore four strategies that can help you optimise your use of online booking sites, from adapting to evolving consumer booking habits to capitalising on the ‘billboard effect’ and more. These insights can help you refine your approach and make the most of your partnerships with these platforms.
1. Evolve with the ever-changing travel consumer booking habits
Today, travellers want to be able to book affordable accommodation, quickly and with minimal effort. If your property is not listed with the major, or leading OTAs then you’re sacrificing a large portion of your potential online revenue.
2. Take advantage of the billboard effect
The billboard effect refers to the boost in direct reservations a small hotel experiences as a result of being listed on OTA websites. OTAs like Booking.com have nominal marketing budgets and website traffic. Aside from the bookings they generate for hotels, they also inadvertently help to direct “travel bookers” to a hotel’s own website. A 2009 Cornell report showed that hotels who list their rooms on OTAs also experience an increase in bookings made through their own hotel website. In fact, the study showed up to a 26% increase in revenues earned from non-OTA channels just from being listed.
3. Trade empty rooms with just paying commissions
Many independent hoteliers hesitate to list their rooms on OTAs because of the commissions they have to pay. Although some may argue that 15-35% of your booking rate is a high price to pay, think about it this way: would you rather be earning 65% of your room rate, or 0% if your room sits empty? The majority of respondents would obviously rather earn money from their rooms, which is another important reason to include OTAs in your hotel’s distribution strategy. Through Little Hotelier all-in-one solution, you can connect to multiple OTAs, maximising your online exposure, without the fear of double bookings.
4. Ride with the rise of metasearch and hotel search engines
As you have probably heard, metasearch engines like HotelsCombined, Google Hotel Finder and TripAdvisor are becoming more popular with travellers, as they collect all available online room rates in a single list.
TripAdvisor combines trusted consumer reviews with a comprehensive list of rates from a variety of OTAs, making it a one-stop shop for consumers booking travel. Why would you go anywhere else given the option of a single site for booking start to finish? This is definitely one metasearch OTA that we suggest including in your online distribution strategy.
What is the best website to book a hotel?
When it comes to the best site to book a hotel, it really depends on the guest’s preferences. For example, some people may prefer a certain booking site over another because it has better user experience or greater discount deals.
That’s why it’s so important for hoteliers to understand the different types of hotel guests. Knowing exactly what kind of travellers you want to attract gives valuable insight on which hotel booking site your property should be listed on.
Two major global hotel booking sites
There are two options that will suit nearly all guests and hotels, such is their size and global reach:
- Booking.com is also a part of the Priceline group, the world’s biggest accommodation website. More than 6.3 million room nights are booked on the site every week (over 950,000 per day). They have recently expanded their inventory into the small accommodation provider market – especially family-run bed and breakfasts, self-catering apartments, and vacation rentals.
- Expedia is a major player in the OTA space. In total, they own 200+ travel booking sites, 150+ mobile websites in nearly 70 countries and 35 languages. Part of their suite of websites are the likes of Hotels.com, Orbitz, Egencia, Travelocity, Hotwire, and Trivago.
Cheapest hotel booking sites for leisure travellers
For many travellers, it’s about the experience more-so than the accommodation itself, which means they look for the best deals on a hotel room:
- Hostelworld.com is the world’s leading hostel-focused online booking platform, selling your property through its website and over 3,500 distribution partners (including Lonely Planet), in 23 different languages. It recently acquired another popular hostel accommodation website called Hostelbookers.
- Ctrip is China’s leading travel website, offering over 900,000 listings to its member base of 141 million members. Ctrip is a strong brand within China and dominates the local market.
- Orbitz Worldwide operates Orbitz.com, CheapTickets.com, ebookers.com, HotelClub.com, RatesToGo.com, Asia-Hotels.com, RatesToGo.com, Asia-Hotels.com and OrbitzforBusiness.com. You can target your audience in many ways, including participating in major campaigns and exclusive promotions, and using creative dynamic package pricing.
- Agoda is part of the Priceline group, and it is one of the fastest-growing online hotel platforms worldwide. It is most prominent in Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, and Taiwan. It operates in 38 different languages, and has over 11 million hotel reviews.
- LateRooms is based in Manchester, and it offers discounted accommodation throughout the UK, Europe, and rest of the world. It has compiled over 2 million genuine guest reviews to help travellers choose the best place to stay.
Best hotel booking sites for business travellers
Business travellers have much different requirements than leisure travellers, and there are a few channels deal with them specifically:
- GTA Travel is a well-known global wholesaler of hotels, and has been in operation for over 40 years. Each day, they process tens of thousands of bookings, and each year, they sell 12 million room nights in more than 25 languages online and throughout the world. They are particularly strong in mid range 3* and 4* properties.
- Hotelbeds is a global business-to-business bedbank which connects properties to online travel agencies (OTAs), retail agencies, tour operators and airlines.
Which online booking sites should you partner with?
When travellers search for accommodation online, hotel booking sites are usually what they turn to.
So it’s obvious that these sites are the key to online distribution for your small property – they can help you reach markets that you have no way of reaching on your own.
However, there are a multitude of websites out there. How on earth can you figure out how to narrow down your options?
You need to know what type of traveller you’re trying to target (and where they’re based), and then select the hotel booking sites that can help you attract that traveller.
Connect with the best hotel booking sites using Little Hotelier
Integrating your hotel with several booking sites can be challenging and time-consuming, but Little Hotelier’s channel manager allows you to seamlessly connect with the world’s best booking sites, including major OTAs such as Booking.com, Expedia, and Airbnb. With Little Hotelier, you can manage connections with over 450 hotel booking sites all in one place and more:
- Real-Time availability and rate management: Update inventory and rates in real-time, ensuring that availability and pricing are accurate across all types of booking sites. This feature helps to avoid overbooking and rate discrepancies which can lead to negative guest experiences and ultimately, revenue loss.
- Automated reservation management: Automatically processes reservations from all hotel booking sites, consolidating them into a single reservation calendar. This feature streamlines the booking process, reducing the risk of manual errors, and saving time for hotel staff.
Comprehensive performance reporting: Access comprehensive reports on key metrics such as occupancy, revenue, and channel management which provide insights into the hotel’s performance across different booking channels, enabling hoteliers to make data-driven decisions and optimise their distribution strategy.
By Dean Elphick
Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of Little Hotelier, the all-in-one software solution purpose-built to make the lives of small accommodation providers easier. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at Little Hotelier. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance, and, ultimately, value for small accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations (and live their life).
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