Your website’s booking engine is one of the most important tools that you use to run your small accommodation business.

After all, it allows you to accept direct online bookings at any time of the day without any intervention from you at all!

So it’s crucial that you pick the right one to suit the specific needs of your small hotel.

If you’re considering your options, make sure that you ask your potential vendors the following questions.

Booking process

It shouldn’t take more than a few clicks for your guest to make a booking online. The more steps there are in the process, the less likely they are to stick with you.

All information should be accessible – including your payment and cancellation policies. This will cover you for all scenarios and keep your guests happily informed.

They won’t need to ask you any questions because they have found all the answers to their questions on your site.

Questions to ask:

  • How many clicks will it take to make a booking?
  • Where are my terms and conditions information displayed in the online booking process?
  • Where is my cancellation policy displayed in the online booking process?
  • Can I send an automatic booking confirmation, reminder, and post-stay email?
  • Can the theme of my booking engine be customized to match my hotel’s brand?

Reservations calendar

Hotel booking engines give your guests an easy interface where they can select their dates and check your availability and rates.

You should be able to highlight hot deals and upsell everything from champagne to tour packages.

Questions to ask:

  • Can guests select dates and view rates on a calendar interface?
  • Can guests select the currency and language they want to see (and if so, how many currencies and languages are supported)?
  • Will I be able to display hot deals on the calendar interface?
  • Will I be able to up-sell extras before checkout?

Online payment process

As with any online payment, there is the issue of sensitive data in the payment process. When assessing your options, PCI DSS compliance is not a ‘nice-to-have’, but an absolute necessity.

Worldpay reports that nearly one in five online shoppers have dropped out of an online travel bookings because of security concerns around payment.

Questions to ask:

  • Are you PCI DSS compliant?
  • Can you provide documented proof of PCI DSS compliance?

Integration with sales channels

Online sales channels like OTAs and meta search sites are necessary tactics if you want to sell more rooms online. The trouble is keeping your inventory up to date.

If your hotel booking engine doesn’t support channel management, you risk overbooking your rooms because there’s no way to display the correct availability in real time across all channels.

Questions to ask:

  • Is integrated channel management available as part of the solution?
  • How many of your existing booking channels does the system connect to?
  • If channel management is available, is it an additional cost or is it included?

Look for a vendor that offers the most online channels possible, and does not charge you an additional fee for connecting to new channels.

Little Hotelier connects small hotels to over 250 online channels, at no extra charge. Click here to learn more.

Advanced reports

Your hotel booking engine gives you a complete overview of the daily running and performance of your property.

Without advanced reporting, you will be stuck trying to manipulate data in spreadsheets – which could take you an entire day – instead of being able to access it within a few clicks.

Questions to ask:

  • Can I access a daily transactions report, where I can see check ins and check outs, cancellations, average unoccupied rooms, and different payment methods used?
  • Can I track essential statistics, like RevPAR (revenue per available room), average occupancy, average length of stay, and more?
  • Can I see metrics around my booking channels, like number of bookings per channel, and revenue per channel?

If you would like to find the best hotel booking engine for your small hotel, download our interactive buyer’s guide:

Why not consider Little Hotelier’s all-in-one solution?

Get a booking engine, front desk system and channel manager for a flat monthly fee. Check out our demo videos to see how it works.

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).