Let us find your solution 10 Best Central Reservations Systems for Hotels in 2021 | Find Reviews, Pricing, Buying Guide
Helping thousands of hoteliers make better buying decisions every month
Marriott
Denihan Hospitality Group
Fairmont
starwood
The Standard
Ace Hotel
Kimpton
Accor Hotels
Ace Hotel
Ace Hotel

What is a central reservations system? A central reservation system (CRS) is a platform used by hotels to centrally manage and distribute room inventory, rates, and reservations. The CRS typically receives inventory from the PMS, then distributes rates and availability in real-time to direct and third-party channels, including the hotel’s own website booking engine and call center (direct channels), as well as channel managers, OTAs, GDS, and metasearch (third-party channels). Reservations from these channels are sent back to the CRS and subsequently synced into the PMS for room allocation. H... Read the full Central Reservations System software overview

10 Best Central Reservations System

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Hoteliers voted Pegasus as the #1 Central Reservations Systems provider in the 2021 HotelTechAwards
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Pegasus CRS

HotelTech Logo score
HT SCORE
100 out of 100
Hotel Tech Score is a composite ranking comprising of key signals such as: user satisfaction, review quantity, review recency, and vendor submitted information to help buyers better understand their products.
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Take full control of your hotel’s distribution strategy with the Pegasus CRS, an award-winning cloud-based reservations solution that offers unprecedented flexibility, scalabili...

Geography: Regional
Geography: Global Verified Customer Support: Yes No
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Hoteliers voted Pegasus as the #1 Central Reservations Systems provider in the 2021 HotelTechAwards
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Hoteliers voted SHR as the #1 Central Reservations Systems provider in the 2021 HotelTechAwards
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Windsurfer CRS by SHR

HotelTech Logo score
HT SCORE
84 out of 100
Hotel Tech Score is a composite ranking comprising of key signals such as: user satisfaction, review quantity, review recency, and vendor submitted information to help buyers better understand their products.
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SHR–Keeping Hotels Competitive. SHR, Sceptre Hospitality Resources, provides advanced tools and services that help hotels execute their best distribution strategy while delighti...

Geography: Regional
Geography: Global Verified Customer Support: Yes No
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Hoteliers voted SHR as the #1 Central Reservations Systems provider in the 2021 HotelTechAwards
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Hoteliers voted GuestCentric as the #1 Central Reservations Systems provider in the 2021 HotelTechAwards
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GuestCentric CRS

HotelTech Logo score
HT SCORE
80 out of 100
Hotel Tech Score is a composite ranking comprising of key signals such as: user satisfaction, review quantity, review recency, and vendor submitted information to help buyers better understand their products.
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Simplified and fully integrated solutions to generate direct reservations, manage inventory, and measure revenue. Keep all your reservations in one simplified interface, and watch...

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Hoteliers voted GuestCentric as the #1 Central Reservations Systems provider in the 2021 HotelTechAwards
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Hoteliers voted Vertical Booking as the #1 Central Reservations Systems provider in the 2021 HotelTechAwards
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Vertical Booking (CRS)

HotelTech Logo score
HT SCORE
77 out of 100
Hotel Tech Score is a composite ranking comprising of key signals such as: user satisfaction, review quantity, review recency, and vendor submitted information to help buyers better understand their products.
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Vertical Booking is a leading, global reservation technology provider with hotel clients in 107 countries worldwide, offering solutions translated into 29 languages and usable in ...

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Hoteliers voted Vertical Booking as the #1 Central Reservations Systems provider in the 2021 HotelTechAwards
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Hoteliers voted Busy Rooms as the #1 Central Reservations Systems provider in the 2021 HotelTechAwards
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Busy Rooms

HotelTech Logo score
HT SCORE
62 out of 100
Hotel Tech Score is a composite ranking comprising of key signals such as: user satisfaction, review quantity, review recency, and vendor submitted information to help buyers better understand their products.
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Busy Rooms offers an adaptable, brandable, and scalable cloud-based Central Reservation System designed to be the control center for our Customers' daily sales, marketing, and rev...

Geography: Regional
Geography: Global Verified Customer Support: Yes No
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Hoteliers voted Busy Rooms as the #1 Central Reservations Systems provider in the 2021 HotelTechAwards
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Hoteliers voted Amadeus as the #1 Central Reservations Systems provider in the 2021 HotelTechAwards
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Amadeus – iHotelier® Reservations & Booking Engine

HotelTech Logo score
HT SCORE
21 out of 100
Hotel Tech Score is a composite ranking comprising of key signals such as: user satisfaction, review quantity, review recency, and vendor submitted information to help buyers better understand their products.
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Amadeus' market-leading reservations and booking engine solutions deliver unmatched flexibility and scale of distribution for independent hoteliers and mid-scale chains. Create ne...

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Hoteliers voted Amadeus as the #1 Central Reservations Systems provider in the 2021 HotelTechAwards
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Hoteliers voted Omnibees as the #1 Central Reservations Systems provider in the 2021 HotelTechAwards
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Omnibees

HotelTech Logo score
HT SCORE
10 out of 100
Hotel Tech Score is a composite ranking comprising of key signals such as: user satisfaction, review quantity, review recency, and vendor submitted information to help buyers better understand their products.
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Omnibees is an integrated technology distribution and marketing solution for the hotel market. In a single platform, we offer several tools that allow the hotelier to maximize rev...

Geography: Regional
Geography: Global Verified Customer Support: Yes No
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Hoteliers voted Omnibees as the #1 Central Reservations Systems provider in the 2021 HotelTechAwards
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Hoteliers voted Xn protel Systems as the #1 Central Reservations Systems provider in the 2021 HotelTechAwards
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XN Protel Systems (XnCRS)

HotelTech Logo score
HT SCORE
8 out of 100
Hotel Tech Score is a composite ranking comprising of key signals such as: user satisfaction, review quantity, review recency, and vendor submitted information to help buyers better understand their products.
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xmsEnterprise CRS is a globalized, cloud native central reservation system for hotels, serviced apartment operators, online booking service providers and reservation sales offices...

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Hoteliers voted Xn protel Systems as the #1 Central Reservations Systems provider in the 2021 HotelTechAwards
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Hoteliers voted NAVIS as the #1 Central Reservations Systems provider in the 2021 HotelTechAwards
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NAVIS RezForce Call Center

HotelTech Logo score
HT SCORE
8 out of 100
Hotel Tech Score is a composite ranking comprising of key signals such as: user satisfaction, review quantity, review recency, and vendor submitted information to help buyers better understand their products.
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Our highly trained, expert agents capture bookings when your team is busy or unavailable.We hire, train, and performance test only the best US-based agents who deliver an industry...

Geography: Regional
Geography: Global Verified Customer Support: Yes No
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Hoteliers voted NAVIS as the #1 Central Reservations Systems provider in the 2021 HotelTechAwards
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2021 Winner HotelTechAwards
Hoteliers voted IDS Next Business Solutions Pvt.Ltd. as the #1 Central Reservations Systems provider in the 2021 HotelTechAwards
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FX CRS (by IDS Next Hotel ERP)

HotelTech Logo score
HT SCORE
8 out of 100
Hotel Tech Score is a composite ranking comprising of key signals such as: user satisfaction, review quantity, review recency, and vendor submitted information to help buyers better understand their products.
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The Global Hospitality Technology Platform Provider IDS Next is a company of vision, a company that focuses on the future, a company that develops, deliver and supports innovative...

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Hoteliers voted IDS Next Business Solutions Pvt.Ltd. as the #1 Central Reservations Systems provider in the 2021 HotelTechAwards
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Recent Central Reservations Systems Articles

The Future of Hotel Front Desk Software: PMS, CRS and Hotel CRM Are Converging

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 year ago

Dave Berkus knows hospitality technology more than nearly anyone. Back in the early 1980s, his company, Computerized Lodging Systems, dominated the nascent hospitality technology market with one of the first electronic Property Management Systems on the market.  The immediate popularity of the technology resulted in rapid growth for the company, which was recognized on the Inc 500 list -- twice. Dave also created FOSSE, the property management system technology that Marriott used for almost 36 years. Dave practically invented hotel front desk software and he has invested in hundreds of tech companies since - many of those in hotel and travel tech so he knows this market better than anyone. Today, there are over 700 property management systems for hotels. With such a dense thicket of choices, it's hard to imagine the early days of hospitality technology. These are the days when only a few players dominated, offering truly game-changing solutions that defined how hotels began using technology to operate more efficiently and profitably. Dave is also an accomplished angel investor, having achieved an impressive 97% internal rate of return from over 150 investments to date. His Wayfare Ventures unites five partners from AIG, TAJ Hotel Group and Starwood, alongside a board of accomplished travel industry veterans, to make early stage investments in travel technology startups. Hotel Tech Report’s Jordan Hollander recently enjoyed a wide-ranging conversation with Dave on the Hotel Tech Insider podcast, where the two discussed how Dave’s history in hospitality technology has shaped the way he sees the industry today. These are the most pertinent themes that reveal how this hospitality technology luminary sees the future of hotel tech, as well as what he looks for when evaluating both ideas and entrepreneurs for investment.   The future of the PMS With so many property management solutions competing for business, it's hard to envision a post-PMS future. Yet, this future is coming, Berkus says, due to the increased importance of the Central Reservation System. The CRS owns the guest name record, which has made it more of a centralized source of data than the PMS: The PMS systems are, for the chains at least, becoming increasingly less important, as they handle right now in-house functions only. Berkus notes that the cloud PMS companies of today are likely to be the players who evolve these CRS like capabilities so while he believes that their technology will remain a core piece of the tech stack, he believes that what it means to be a PMS will change more in the next 5-10 years than in the last 20 years combined. Guest history has shifted to the CRS, while the PMS has transitioned into a fully operational role for specific properties. As hotels have both consolidated and established micro-brands, the CRS naturally became the way to share guest preferences across the portfolio. The centralization of data cemented the role of the CRS at the center of modern data-driven personalization and marketing strategies. says Berkus:   Big Data's being used in very important ways but certainly not just from the PMS system anymore. The question then is: if the CRS could potentially supplant the PMS as the source of all-important guest data, will we need a PMS system in the future? Berkus says yes but the legacy PMS companies will be forced to innovate and more specifically open up their architecture to become platforms themselves because CRS, CRM and even Revenue Management companies of today have the requisite data necessary to become the center of the tech stack according to Berkus. Eventually, Berkus sees most hotels relying on a single cloud-based system that aggregates all functionality into one flow, which reduces errors and increases accuracy as it doesn't require passing information around multiple systems. A hybrid PMS/CRS/CRM solution means a single guest record that enables better, more accurate personalization. The consolidation of functionality also simplifies the tech stack and should help hotels effectively use existing data to power personalization at the individual guest level. A unified tech stack unleashes the full power of data-driven decision making, which will soon be table stakes for how hotels everywhere compete. Rather than relying on incomplete sets of data, hoteliers can constantly make decisions based on the holistic view. A unified tech stack can also be achieved through seamless integrations and Berkus says that “there will always be best of breed solutions in various categories.” This vision will take a while to achieve, and so the PMS will continue to play a critical role for hotel operations: If we look ahead ten years, it would be easy to see a single cloud-based system integrating everything from CRM to reservations to the accounting functions at the properties, all the way through all forms of marketing and follow-through. Even with this view, Berkus sees the potential for category leaders to dominate specific verticals, while still providing the essential services necessary to run a hotel. For example, revenue management, which may be a feature of a CRS or a standalone solution -- all depending on how an individual property derives its revenue, and the sophistication of its revenue generation strategies. Part of the problem, he says, is that people confuse hotel tech with quality hotel tech: just because a hotel has a system doesn't mean that it is a good system. For Berkus, this means that the hospitality technology industry has plenty of dynamism ahead of it and he believes that it’s far from maturity.   The transformative power of analytics For Berkus, the primary reason for the PMS’ uncertain future is due to its isolation from data and analytics. Even the most integrated systems have challenges when it comes to gathering data from disparate sources into a unified view. Even so, it’s the analytics on top of all of this data that drives profitable hospitality today. Whichever technology hotel uses, It must facilitate the types of analysis that drive “more capable decisions,” across the organization, says Berkus: Analytics are everything. The most important single change that's going to come is the fact that every piece of data that arrives at the central source will be analyzed. You're going to find that more capable decisions will be made to maximize revenue...based upon AI and data analytics. That's your future. The unsaid implications here is that hotels with a sub-par data and analytics approach will be left behind. Hospitality has become not just about the guest-facing product but also the hidden back-end of intelligent data capture and analysis. The top performers will effectively oscillate between analyzing the data and making clear improvements based on this analysis.   The data-driven hotel GM As data and analytics move to the core of a hotel’s operation, general managers must evolve their skill sets to match. While operations will never cease to be a part of a hotel general managers role, success in this role is increasingly about the ability to enhance profitability by effectively translating data analytics into actionable initiatives. Currently, GMs have a steep learning curve to build muscle memory around analyzing large amounts of data from disparate sources. As machines become more capable of doing the analysis on their own, the best GMs will be able to take action on the analysis presented by the tools to increase profitability, Berkus predicts: A manager has to be able to add value by adding revenue and by increasing guest satisfaction. Those two things are not necessarily the operational things that a manager today normally concentrates on. Marketing also matters more to the GM of the future. As marketing campaigns become data-focused, GMs will engage more deeply with their marketing teams to leverage a data-driven approach to spend marketing dollars more efficiently. It's all about the relevant message consumed in the right context, as GMs seek to add value in new ways.   Sourcing true pain points from sales and marketing Berkus is an active angel investor, and his recent announcement of Wayfare Ventures brings his focus to travel technology. When it comes to developing an idea, Berkus sees real value in entrepreneurs solving true pain points rather than perceived problems: I love it when somebody in marketing or sales develops a company and says “I feel the pain” and let's try and solve the need. As opposed to what I see most often, which is an engineer says I really got an idea and I'm going to make that idea work. The contrarian view is noteworthy in its opposition to the engineer-focused view espoused by many investors and technologists. Part of this view comes from the plummeting costs of cloud computing, as well as the prevalence of APIs which make it simpler to plug into an existing ecosystem without having to build as much technical infrastructure. Differentiation comes less from tech and more from truly knowing the problem and having clarity around what needs to be solved -- rather than building a technically-flawless solution that misses the mark and fails to gain traction because it doesn't solve an actual problem. An early-stage solution that solves a real problem for a specific segment sells itself and helps a startup gain traction at a lower cost. It’s expensive to convince people that a product solves a non-existent problem.   Market trends poised for investment As far as trends in the market that have potential, Berkus points to artificial intelligence, robotics, and data analytics as three disruptive forces. However, things change fast. Apps are no longer the hot commodity they once were. Today’s opportunities are all about AI, robots, and data analytics. When evaluating the most exciting opportunities for investment, Berkus expands his view to encompass all of travel technology. This expanded view allows him to see opportunities from the interconnectedness of the travel and hospitality industries, which is a core part of the thesis at Wayfare Ventures. It all comes down to using modern technology to find new revenue that may not have been easy to uncover in the past. Whatever it be, there are opportunities now for revenue that weren't easily available in the past but are today. But the whole point is if guest satisfaction goes up and guests are able to do things they couldn't do before, like order a meal from text, then you're going to have better revenue and more satisfaction.   Enjoy the full podcast episode here. Outside of the points covered above, Berkus shares the fascinating foundational story of the first property and yield management tools for hotels.

How Does Hotel Booking Software Work?

by
Hotel Tech Report
6 months ago

The growth in technology tools for hotels has complicated life for hoteliers. While it has always been important to bring potential guests into the conversion funnel, there are now many ways to both capture and convert lookers to bookers. When considering the different ways to bring prospects into your hotel’s funnel, it can be helpful to start with the goal and then look at technologies that accomplish that goal. This approach differs from other common vendor evaluation processes in one key way: it puts the goal first rather than the category. Generally speaking you always want to start closest to the conversion event and work your way higher and higher in the purchase funnel.  This means that you should start by analyzing your hotel's booking software to make sure that you don't have leakage (i.e. low conversion rates).  Next you'll analyze your website and direct channel and lastly you'll explore ways to bring more visitors into that funnel once you've sealed up any holes. In this method, we advise analyzing data across your business from channel mix to conversion rates to identify problem areas.  Once you've identified these problems, prioritize starting at the bottom of the funnel and work your way up.  We'll then explore the tools that can help solve each of these problems (hint: some tools may solve the same problem in completely different categories).  We'll start by clearly explaining the different types of hotel booking software.  We'll then outline the four main objectives of any hotel marketing strategy, we'll then dive into which software categories and providers can help shore up issues within each objective. With an increasing number of guests choosing online booking - up to 80% of guests under the age of 30 - a well-informed hotelier should have a solid understanding of the hotel booking software landscape. The term “hotel booking software” can refer to a few different types of software, which can be confusing for hoteliers who might not work in the technology space on a regular basis. In this article, we’ll introduce you to the five main categories of hotel booking software: OTAs, Central Reservations Systems (CRS), booking engines, channel managers, and property management systems (PMS). By the end of this blog post, you’ll know the ins and outs of each so you can maximize your property’s online reach and make the right technology decisions for your hotel.   Central Reservations System: Manage Rates & Inventory It’s a good rule of thumb to diversify your mix of reservation channels, so most hotels don’t rely solely on OTA bookings. Large hotels and chain hotels often use central reservation systems (CRSs) to manage bookings made through their own reservations teams. CRSs allow various reservations agents to view real-time rates and availability and create, edit, or cancel reservations in one centralized system. A hotel wouldn’t use a central reservations system alone, though. The CRS would receive rates from a revenue management system, exchange availability data and reservation details with a property management system, and possibly also integrate with a channel manager to distribute inventory to third-party channels like OTAs or the GDS. CRSs deliver the most benefit to hotels with reservations teams or which are part of a brand or chain with off-site reservations offices.   Booking Engine: Drive Direct Bookings Besides booking through reservations staff, guests can also make reservations on hotels’ own websites - but in order for that to be possible, the hotel website needs a booking system to sell hotel rooms called a booking engine. Hotel booking engines display real-time rates and availability, house the booking process and gathering of guest details, and integrate the confirmed reservations with the hotel’s property management system or hotel management system. Some property management systems include integrated booking engines, and some hotel-specific website builders also come with booking engine capability. But even if your existing tech stack includes a built-in booking engine, it’s worth doing some extra research to find the most user-friendly booking engine. Glitches or slow loading speeds can make guests change their mind about booking at your hotel, and, on the flip side, a great booking engine with upselling and customization capabilities can increase your conversion rate and your RevPAR.   Channel Manager: Facilitate Bookings on 3rd Parties Direct reservations - whether through a reservations agent or your hotel’s website - usually don’t lead to a full house every night. A savvy hotelier leverages third-party channels to maximize online exposure and develop varied segments of guests. In order to work with third-party channels most efficiently, hotels use channel management software. Channel managers often support connections to hundreds of third-party sites that range from big OTAs (Booking.com and Expedia) to smaller niche sites (HostelWorld and Mr & Mrs Smith) and wholesalers (Hotelbeds). Manually updating rates and availability on hundreds of sites is impossible, so a channel manager makes it easy to keep all of your distribution channels accurate and up-to-date. Some property management systems include integrated channel management functionality; if not, be sure to choose a channel manager that supports integration with your PMS so reservations can sync seamlessly.   Property Management Systems: From Hotel Bookings to Guest Experience Management A property management system is at the core of your hotel tech stack. It houses all of your reservations, guest profiles, billing information, room statuses, and more. Small hotels often opt for a combined PMS with a channel manager and booking engine referred to as hotel management system.  This helps to streamline hotel operations in a simple and easy to use management solution and reservation software combined - which can be more cost-effective.  Nearly all hotel departments use the PMS on a daily basis: front desk agents check-in guests, housekeeping teams learn which rooms need to be cleaned, finance teams manage billing, leadership teams look at reporting and trends. Without any booking engine or channel management capabilities, a PMS is only considered hotel booking software if we think about reservations booked manually by hotel staff. But most PMSs include modules for additional functions; some PMSs even include CRS, channel management, and booking engine functionality. If your hotel uses a PMS that connects directly to OTAs and has integrated an CRS, channel manager, and booking engine, that PMS might be the only system you need.   Online Travel Agencies (OTA): 3rd Party Booking Extranets Out of all those reservations booked online, many of them come through online travel agents or OTAs.  The smallest hotels and guest houses (under 10 rooms) often lack direct bookings in their channel mix at all while major hotel chains command a larger share relative to the OTAs. You can think of these digital marketplaces as an Amazon for travel; travelers can use various criteria to search through available hotels, flights, rental cars, and more, then complete the booking process through that marketplace platform.  Guests often choose OTAs due to the perception of better pricing on travel products and streamlined package offerings which help to automate a lot of the itinerary management processes. OTAs offer significant benefits to guests, such as loyalty programs, credibility, and the convenience of having all the available options at your fingertips. Guests complete their booking on the OTA and receive a confirmation from the OTA, at which point the OTA sends a notification to the hotel with the reservation details. Those reservation details integrate with the hotel’s property management system or travel to the property management system via a channel manager - more on that later! For hoteliers, OTAs also deliver plenty of benefits. OTAs give hotels visibility among massive audiences (Booking.com receives well over 200 million monthly visits, for example) and access to marketing channels that would be cost-prohibitive if the hotel tried to get similar reach independently. Many hotels also experience the “billboard effect,” in which travelers find a hotel they like on an OTA, and then they search for that hotel’s direct website to complete their booking. However, all this marketing exposure comes at a cost; most OTAs charge commissions between 15% and 20% on each confirmed reservation.     Goal #1: Optimize Website & Hotel Booking Software Conversion When it comes to getting more direct bookings, it’s all about the hotel website (and booking software or IBE). After all, a hotel with a buggy website and poor user flow will scare off many potential guests who seek a trustworthy booking experience. Direct booking tools promise growth in direct bookings by increasing conversions on a hotel’s website through price check tools, real-time guest messaging, smart segmentation, and pricing optimization. These direct booking tools offer a mix of capabilities, so it’s best to evaluate each according to how your hotel prioritizes direct bookings. Booking engines are a necessity for selling rooms directly. Without a modern and intuitive interface that’s optimized for conversion, guests will go elsewhere out of frustration or suspicion. Look for a booking engine or hotel booking software with real-time inventory updates; otherwise, you risk double booking across channels. Reputation management is more than just an operational tool: it’s also handy for marketing. Most hotel reputation management solutions have the ability to feature previous guest reviews on your website; doing so can dramatically boost your conversion rate. Virtual tours can help conversions. When potential guests consider a hotel, they want to be certain that the property is as advertised. Consider investing in a virtual tour to give guests piece of mind.   Goal #2: Drive More Traffic to Your Hotel Website With Paid & Social Once a website has been optimized for direct bookings and conversion, the next step is to entice more potential guests to it. There’s a blended approach to making this happen.   Content marketing is one of the most affordable ways to engage potential guests and to bring them to your website. With great content, you’ll have an engaging website to attract visitors, as well as plenty to post on social media. Be sure to make your content relevant to your guest profile. Social media is a challenging place but can deliver results when done right -- especially for distribution of the great content you’ve created! Social media is also a goldmine of consumer insights. Leveraging social media tools can bring you closer to your customers. Influencer marketing continues to be a growth area for hospitality marketers. Inviting influencers to experience the property, or paying them to post about the property, appeals to hotels looking to reach particular demographics. These influencer marketing tools should factor into the mix, helping identify the right influencers and tracking the success of your campaign. Digital marketing agencies are assets for those hotels that have enough budget to engage subject matter experts. Hotel digital marketing vendors use their experience across clients to build high-impact campaigns that can be quite intimidating to deploy solo.   Goal #3: Drive Retention and Return Visits According to research from Bain & Co., the company that invented the Net Promoter Score, increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. Statistics aside, it really comes down to customer acquisition cost for hotels. With each booking channel taking a large commission for bringing in a guest, it can be extraordinarily lucrative to re-engage former guests. Loyalty programs are helpful assets to organize and track a comprehensive loyalty program for independents. The best technology will give you insights into your guest profiles, and help you craft the best offerings to each group.  Read our article reviewing independent loyalty programs to decide if this option is right for your hotel or properties. Email marketing is a critical piece of the loyalty puzzle. When evaluating email marketing tools, you want to be sure that it integrates with your existing loyalty program and hotel CRM tools.   Goal #4: Develop a Well Balanced Omni-Channel Distribution Mix Third-party websites and metasearch are important pieces of any hotel revenue management strategy. As part of a cohesive approach that includes direct bookings, wholesale, and groups, these channels are valuable tools to shore up low demand periods and achieve overall revenue targets. Metasearch and ad tech bring advanced reporting, bidding and inventory management to your third-party distribution strategy. These metasearch tools help hoteliers wrangle the complex web of metasearch campaigns, as well as integrating in real-time with existing systems to maximize profitable bookings without overbooking. Review management software performs a critical function: it monitors your hotel’s reviews for potential operational issues. Catching poor performance before it affects the guest experience means better reviews -- and a higher ranking in search results on OTAs and metasearch sites.   ** Want to get started today? Run an internal SWOT analysis for your hotel's marketing department to identify weaknesses and opportunities then use that analysis to inform where you invest resources.  Rather than comparing only direct booking tools to one another, for example, this process focuses on the desired outcome -- and then compares tools across categories that may help your hotel achieve that outcome. With this outcome-based approach, you'll have stronger odds of successfully matching with the correct vendor for a specific issue.   What else would you like to learn about hotel booking software? Let us know!

Revenue Management Tools: The Top Tech Your Hotels Needs Now

by
Hotel Tech Report
9 months ago

Revenue management has made great strides in recent years. The transition to cloud-based systems built flexibility into the software development process, accelerating the pace of new features. The shorter cycles allow the software to more accurately meet the evolving needs of hoteliers. This is a relief to many hoteliers with less-than-pleasant memories of the shackles of frozen legacy technology. “Hotels face large hurdles to shrug off legacy back-end systems. Revenue management and the related issues of marketing and distribution require a full set of data to be done right.” -Skift A review of today’s revenue management tools highlights just how far the industry has come in fulfilling a vision of connected revenue management systems that use data to dynamically price room inventory. Real-time, data-driven intelligence now comes standard in the industry-leading tools.   An agile approach to releasing new features is also a requirement. As the industry experiments with new ways to sell its inventory, such as attribute-based selling, the best revenue management software anticipate change, test features, and deliver on the promise of true revenue optimization. Even so, only 1 in 10 hotels deploys some level of revenue management software, due largely to the complexity of practicing proper revenue management. A comprehensive approach to revenue management generally includes a solution from each of the following categories: CRS, RMS, rate shopper, and business intelligence. Some solutions offer more of a one-stop-shop, while others overlap. Whether you choose to stick with one multi-purpose solution or craft a bespoke tech stack, be sure to prioritize agility, flexibility, and extensibility. You want a vendor that keeps ahead of the trends, while also offering a flexible product that can be customized to your needs through flexible implementation and extensible integrations. With that in mind, here are the top tools you need to improve your revenue management, as rated by the Hotel Tech Report community of verified customers.   Central reservation systems (CRS)    The central reservation system is the heart of revenue management. Everything pumps through the CRS: each reservation is processed and managed in this centralized hub which prevents double booking and keeps availability updated in real-time across all systems and channels. As such, the CRS acts as your distribution hub. Any inventory distributed to third-party channels will flow out from the CRS via a two-way connection that pulls inventory once its booked while also pushing out newly available inventory for potential booking. While there are technically CRS platforms that do not automate availability across channels, this approach is not recommended. Manual updates to third-party channels nearly always result in double-booking. That being said, some may prefer a basic CRS augmented with a channel manager. Desirable features: XML connectivity to your preferred third-party channels, extensible modules that allow you to reduce the clutter of unwanted features; decent reporting with visibility into channel profitability; integrations with your other technology solutions; 99.9% uptime; 24/7 customer support; compliance with global security standards. The top three central reservations systems solutions: TravelTripper. The TravelTripper CRS integrates with major PMS software to ensure accurate distribution of rates and availability. Windsurfer by SHR. The Windsurfer CRS features an Internet Booking Engine (IBE) to merchandise and sell your rooms, packages, and add-ons in any configuration. TravelClick’s iHotelier. The CRS from TravelClick maximizes visibility across all distribution channels and drive demand to your property, with a focus on direct bookings.   Revenue management software (RMS)   Revenue management software, also known as revenue optimization (RO), focuses on optimizing revenue through better pricing decisions. While inputs vary across solutions, the two primary factors that determine price are the demand forecasts for an individual property, as well as the local market’s popularity. Automation factors heavily in RMS, although some solutions provide levers to control these pricing decisions manually. Desirable features: real-time direct connects to the distribution channels you use most; real-time calendar updates of new bookings and cancellations; demand-based pricing optimization at both property and market level; integrated demand forecasting to inform pricing decisions; customizable levels of automation for adjusting pricing in real-time; easy integrations with your CRS and business intelligence tools. The top three revenue management software solutions: IDeaS G3. One of the largest incumbents, IDeaS is a division of global conglomerate SAS. The company serves 10,000 properties with its revenue management software that increases “better revenue” opportunities across the entire hotel operation. Duetto Gamechanger. Duetto’s “revenue strategy platform” focuses on pricing decisions based on micro-segmentation, which means that each channel, room type, and segment can be independently yielded in real-time. Atomize. The only startup on the top three, Atomize’s cloud-based system can fully automate pricing decisions, or provide pricing recommendations based on revenue urgency for manual adjustment.   Rate shoppers   Rate shoppers save time. Lots of time. Only recently, a revenue manager would pull rate data from the competition in a spreadsheet to track changes. Or perhaps rely on a rudimentary module baked into an existing technology solution. Today’s rate shoppers make manual updates and inaccurate competitive rates a thing of the past. A rate shopper has two primary functions: to see how your hotel’s competition is pricing rooms and to identify channels that violate parity agreements. This information can then be used to react to competitor pricing and to rectify parity violation with offending channels.  Rate shoppers are the most easy-to-implement revenue management solutions. As they shop publicly available rates, there’s no integration hurdle to clear. Within a few days, a hotel’s rooms can be mapped, its competitive set defined, and reports pulled that accurately guide pricing decisions.  Desirable features: Rate data pulled from sanctioned direct API connections; robust room mapping that allows you to build an apples-to-apples comparison; easy-to-understand visual reports that identify parity violations; comprehensive event schedule to accurately identify factors impacting market demand.  The top rated rate shopping solutions: TravelClick Demand360. Recently acquired by Amadeus, Demand360 offers a segmented view of historical and future pricing across the market and a hotel’s competitive set. Rate Insight by OTA Insight. A relative newcomer, OTA Insight’s Rate Insight product has captured a sizable chunk of the market with a focus on data visualization and ease of use.   Business intelligence for hotels   If the central reservation system is the heart of revenue management, business intelligence is the brain. Your BI system will process and analyze your hotel’s data, alongside market demand data, and deliver insights that help you understand performance. It’s true that most revenue management software has reporting functionality. However, the more data-hungry visualizers won’t be satisfied with limited analytics and reporting. BI solutions unlock insights hidden in data, while also providing a gut check for hoteliers with robust reports. Since BI tools are integration-heavy, they often paint the most accurate picture of a hotel’s performance. By pulling in data from multiple sources, BI improves the accuracy of its own analysis and insight into the true state of a hotel’s revenue forecasts. Desirable features: Customizable reporting according to your own individual KPIs; real-time connections across your hotel’s tech stack; visual dashboards that are easy to understand; exportable reports to share with your team.  These are the top three business intelligence solutions for hotels: HotelIQ. The HotelIQ solution pulls in data from the property management system, as well as other connected operational software, to glean insights. Reports can be at the property level, portfolio, or brand. Revenue Insight by OTA Insight. The business intelligence tool from OTA Insight features a flexible approach for smarter hotel analytics. Year-over-year performance is trackable and combines future and historical performance.  Juyo Analytics. Juyo Analytics uses dashboards for data visualization, forecasting, and revenue pacing. The tool also allows for productivity tracking of sales teams.     Channel managers    A channel manager is a specialized tool for those hoteliers seeking much tighter control over where and how inventory is distributed. If the CRS is the heart, the channel manager is the valves, controlling where your inventory flows. Many RMS solutions have integrated channel managers, so this may be redundant functionality for some. Nonetheless, for those looking for a light-touch software approach that doesn’t involve RMS, a channel manager can be used in conjunction with a CRS and rate shopper to adjust pricing based on internal property targets and external demand factors.  Desirable features: Easy, stress-free connectivity to your CRS; ability to update the content of individual room types across channels; allocation management to control availability on each channel; consider GDS/metasearch connectivity; decent reporting that provides visibility into channel profitability and booking trends. These are the top three channel managers for hotels: MyAllocator by Cloudbeds. The Cloudbeds channel manager connects the property management software in real-time to global distribution channels, including Airbnb and niche sites for hostels and backpackers. SiteMinder. With 350 direct connections to distribution channels, as well as 250 integrations with popular hotel software, SiteMinder’s channel manager has wide reach. Cubilis by Stardekk.  Stardekk's channel manager helps with online management of availability and rates on many booking channels. With their integrated booking engine is you can receive commission-free bookings through your hotel website.  

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Recent Central Reservations Systems News & Community Updates

Maestro is Making a Difference for Hotels via Advanced Two-Way CRS Integration

Maestro PMS
2 months ago

Ensuring a frictionless guest experience from booking to check out and beyond is critical in today’s new normal. Thankfully, Maestro is one of only a few property-management system providers with enhanced two-way integration to Pegasus CRS and other leading Central Reservation System providers. Built on Hospitality Technology Next Generation (HTNG) standards, this joint technology initiative is making it easy for guests to book rooms and make changes to existing reservations on command — regardless of where the booking originated. “As travel resumes, hoteliers must do everything possible to ensure an exceptional stay experience, and that starts with booking,” said Warren Dehan, Maestro president. “When guests call the hotel, the reservations agent — no matter where he or she is located — must have access to all relevant data, no matter the time of day or with whom the booking was first made. We wanted to make sure that if a client closed its reservations line at 8:00 p.m. and a guest calls at 9:00 p.m. to make a change to an existing reservation — or if a loyalty club member is making a reservation at 10:00 p.m. and expects the hotel to honor prior profile requests — Pegasus CRS or the other third-party CRS providers that are manning the hotel’s Call Center have a complete view of the guest and a true depiction of centralized reservations in and out of the system. With a standard two-way integration, even one written to HTNG standards, that level of transparency does not exist.” “Together with Pegasus and other leading CRS providers, Maestro is delivering a secure way to upload volume reservations from multiple threads, not just rates and availability,” he said. “It creates a more service-oriented booking experience for guests who call about their reservations and gives operators more control over their reservations processes. This enhanced two-way CRS integration is something that hotels without a proprietary 24/7 Call Center can benefit from today, and it is something that travelers will expect if they are going to give you a good review. Daily we are getting requests from customers and new prospects asking for this type of functionality, and they are delighted to learn that we already have it in place.”   Full Circle Reservations Synch Maestro first embarked on the enhanced two-way integration project in 2018 with Pegasus. Elizabeth James, Pegasus Solutions Consultant, led the effort to develop a way to access all reservations in its CRS and those originating from Maestro. Pegasus does not have direct access into the PMS; Maestro’s booking engine instead pushes all reservations data to the CRS, creating a record of the transaction with full details transparent to the reservation’s agent. “In the typical hotel reservations world, a one-way system would send guest reservations from the Pegasus CRS to the Maestro PMS — that’s it,” James said. “With the enhanced two-way scenario, we send booking information to the PMS and it sends data back. It’s a full-circle reservation synch, complete with rate and inventory details. Few PMS companies have this type of deep integration with Pegasus. Having all reservations on a single platform gives us the ability to pull reports needed on an entire set of reservations. And, because of the Pegasus Business Intelligence platform, we can slice and dice the information in more meaningful ways. This gives Pegasus and Maestro the most accurate and meaningful analytics by default.” “For us, building strong connections with vendor partners is critical to our customers’ success,” she said. “A CRS is only as good as its relationships with, and connections to, hospitality vendors. Without the enhanced two-way integration, hotels would have to wait until the next day (when its reservations system is back up) to upload new reservations and see changes to bookings that were made the prior evening through the CRS. Together we are offering the most painless way to manage distribution and enhance the user experience. It’s time that operators get rid of old clunky systems that do not have seamless integrations. It’s a different world today and implementing enhanced two-way integrations between Maestro users and Pegasus help ensure guest satisfaction and loyalty.” Maestro Web Browser based software is the preferred cloud and on-premises Property Management Software (PMS) suite for independent hotels, luxury resorts, conference centers, vacation rentals, and multi-property groups. Maestro’s PCI-certified and EMV-ready enterprise system offers 20+ integrated modules on a single database, including web, mobile, and contact free apps to increase profitability, drive direct bookings, centralize operations, and enable operators to engage guests with a personalized and safe experience. Maestro’s Support Service provides unparalleled 24/7 North American based live phone and instant chat support and education services.   HTNG Applauds Technology Effort HTNG Web Services Architect Sandy Angel said the enhanced two-way CRS integration is “pretty cool.” It not only enables hoteliers to service guests properly from a 24/7 reservations perspective, but “it levels the playing field for independent hotels, enabling operators to provide services identical to the bigger brands.” “This enhanced two-way CRS integration is truly helping hotels better manage their reservations — especially on off hours — and it’s supporting operations from a labor perspective,” Angel said. “If you look at the big chains, they have full-service 24/7/365 reservation operations in remote locations. A lot of independent operators do not have that type of access or the human resources to support it, particularly today. It’s rewarding to see these vendor partners working together and using HTNG specs to design a reservations solution that is keeping hotel staff and guests better connected. Kudos to everyone involved. This type of interoperability is essential for the hospitality ecosystem to survive.”  

Central Reservations System Category Overview

What is a central reservations system?

A central reservation system (CRS) is a platform used by hotels to centrally manage and distribute room inventory, rates, and reservations. The CRS typically receives inventory from the PMS, then distributes rates and availability in real-time to direct and third-party channels, including the hotel’s own website booking engine and call center (direct channels), as well as channel managers, OTAs, GDS, and metasearch (third-party channels). Reservations from these channels are sent back to the CRS and subsequently synced into the PMS for room allocation. Hotel revenue managers and marketing/e-commerce managers use CRS or distribution systems to create various promotions and offers through rate plans for different channels and to adjust pricing quickly to be updated across all channels. Reservation agents also work in the CRS to manage reservations.

Want to learn more? Check out our deep dive article: What is a CRS?

How can a central reservations system improve profitability and efficiency?

  • Increases efficiency: A CRS allows hotels to distribute their rates and inventory and receive reservations through a singular system—a hotel only needs to input rates and manage inventory through one backend instead of manually updating rates in various channels. A CRS also allows for cost efficiencies in distribution; although hotels can connect their PMS for channel distribution, CRS companies typically have the ability to integrate to different channels and partners (such as GDS and call center), giving hotels a broader reach for less cost.
  • Grows distribution: A CRS allows hotels to connect to a broad network of travel distributors, allowing the hotel to expand its reach to different types of sellers (OTAs, travel agents, consortia, etc.) in many different worldwide markets.
  • Delivers insight: A CRS gives hotel revenue managers a bird’s-eye view over their pricing and inventory allocations through all distribution channels, which allows them to quickly adapt to the market as needed.

 

What are the most important features of a central reservations system?

  1. Integrations and distribution: reservation software should integrate seamlessly with your existing property management system and allow your hotel to distribute rates and availability through a wide network of channels, including direct channels (website, call center) and third-party travel industry channels (OTAs, GDS (global distribution systems), metasearch).   The CRS should have integrated channel management capabilities to facilitate hotel distribution with OTAs (online travel agencies like Expedia and Booking).
  2. Pricing capabilities and flexibility: Every revenue manager needs a good toolset to develop a sound distribution strategy whether they work for an independent hotel or one of the major hotel chains. Your CRS partner should offer dynamic pricing tools that will give your hotel enormous flexibility when it comes to executing complex revenue strategies and selling multiple hotel room types across multiple channels. Also consider whether integrations between your revenue management, merchandising, and CRM platforms with the CRS would help to increase operational efficiency (e.g. being able to automate pricing from an RMS, being able to enter rates only once within a backend, etc.) 
  3. Booking engine / e-commerce platform: A huge deciding factor for many hospitality industry businesses is the quality of the CRS’s booking engine, which should offer conversion optimization features to encourage direct bookings and enable high volumes of online bookings. Key features include the ability to showcase strikethrough pricing, social proof, scarcity messaging, and incremental pricing, dynamic room rates, among others.  The CRS should integrate with the most user-friendly and mobile optimized booking engines on the market. Learn more in our article: What is a booking engine?
  4. Support and account management: A good CRS partner should not only provide round-the-clock customer support, but should also have active account management focused on customer success. Client services should include performance reviews with detailed analytics and reporting, as well as advice on revenue and pricing strategies. Ultimately a CRS provider provides more than just a way to take hotel reservations and should be considered a true strategic partner in hotel management.
  5. Innovation: Your CRS partner should always be seeking to enhance features, support the latest technology trends, and evolve the platform to fit the needs of today’s hotel.

 

What makes great a central reservations system?

  • Drives high volume of bookings: A good CRS should help a hotel to gain visibility and expand global reach across all distribution channels via dedicated channel manager, which should raise overall revenue via increased bookings and occupancy.  It's also important that a hotel reservation system prevent overbooking.
  • Helps shift share from OTAs: A good CRS will help to shift more bookings from high-cost channels (third-party) to low-cost channels (direct ) . Hotel s with poor - performing / low-converting booking engines will often see a shift ranging from 7 to 25+% when switching to a good CRS. It’s not a panacea, however — a smart direct booking strategy also takes into account a high-converting website, well-managed digital marketing strategy, and other direct booking tools to accomplish its goals.
  • Direct impact on NOI (net operating income): If hotels are seeing their overall revenue increase through increased overall bookings, while simultaneously shifting more of those bookings from third-party channels to direct channels, overall profitability should increase as hotels pay out less commissions.

 

What is the typical pricing for a central reservations system?

A CRS is typically priced on a variable basis and varies by channel.  For example, direct bookings via booking engine can cost 1-5% of bookings or a flat fee per booking.  Call center reservations are generally priced on talk time or commissions and GDS is usually priced on a flat fee per booking plus membership fees.  Pricing varies dramatically in this category so make sure to compare quotes on Hotel Tech Report to find the best fit for your business.

 

How long does it usually take for a hotel to implement new a central reservations system?

A designated implementation team will reach out to begin the implementation process, which includes completing required forms, building out the system, and proactively reaching out to third-party vendors where integrations are needed. Generally, implementation can be completed within 2-4 weeks, including staff training, provided that hotels provide all the required information in a timely manner and attend the training sessions.

 

For a full breakdown on how CRS pricing works and download the 2020 Hoteliers Guide to Central Reservations Systems.