Unless you are one of the biggest names in the world of hotels and related businesses, you are going to need help. Most hotels cannot be successful without being a part of 3rd party booking websites (booking engines). As an owner/operator, this will be a very big decision. There are a lot of issues to discuss. Being a part of these booking engines should be making you money, and they should be bringing you other services and incentives. Here is what to look for:
- Cost. Some sites will want a monthly fee. They had better be bringing you a serious amount of business if they are going to take money off you at the start, or they had better be giving you a refund plus apology fees if they don’t. Charges per booking are the best, unless they are going to guarantee a certain level of income. The sites with the most confidence will even guarantee a paid minimum return within a certain time frame. They will pay you that money whether you get clients from them or not.
- Payment Systems. Payment systems need to be swift, and you should not be getting charged for the luxury of getting paid. You need to make sure you are getting paid in the correct currency so your earnings are not affected by currency changes. Payment systems need to be completely secure.
- Participation Incentives. You are becoming a part of an organisation. Group buying is a very powerful force. Any decent booking engine will offer more than just Google search results and a system for payments, they should be providing their clients (you) with extra service. Bulk purchased business and hotel insurance and even group income protection insurance for longer term employees can be arranged. What incentives is your booking engine offering you?
- Website Integration. You are going to have your website, and you need theirs to integrate into yours as well. You cannot have people working in the background to manually enter in data. Their system should integrate into your CMS and PMS (Price Management System). They should supply the applications and code to help you generate your site, or integrate their applications into yours.
- How Busy Are They? It takes time to assess whether a website actually has the business it is claiming to have. Read user reviews and see how many of them are real, and do some research with other vendors. The best booking engines dominate Google search, they are well respected, and they are the number one choice for independent travellers.
- No Clauses. You don’t need to be tied down to any booking engine. If they are not popular enough to get your business, it should not bother you because you are signed up with 100 more.
With so many of these websites on offer, and so many of them that do a completely useless job, you need to be sceptical and you need to make careful selections.