Building an Integrated Agency / Hotel Booking System with WordPress
We all use travel websites like Booking.com, Expedia.com and Orbitz.com. There are a ton of others operating now, basically trying to clone what these 3 giants have started. But do you remember how we used to book flights and hotels?
There are hundreds of thousands of hotels in the world. They all have one thing in common: being listed on one or more of these big travel sites. If you are a hotel owner, then you probably know that these websites take around 15-25% commission from every hotel booking. That’s a big chunk!
Prior to the 2000s, we used to book flights and hotels via travel agencies. Consumers very rarely booked online or through the hotels’ websites. A few entrepreneurs saw the need for a global network so that consumers could access 96% of hotels in the world through the same site, without the need for agencies.
Well, agencies still exist today. But their functions have changed; now they mostly serve businesses and large groups of people traveling or planning a vacation. Hotels are very reliant on websites like Expedia and Orbitz.
It’s hard to make money in the hotel business. The overhead is high, it’s a lot of work to keep customers happy and have them book with your property again. Competition is fierce. So, there is high competition, low margins and demanding consumers.
On top of all of this, it sucks to have to give 15-25% commission to 3rd party booking systems. But all hotels understand the importance of this. Empty rooms are an even bigger problem for hotels.
Every hotel needs a personal booking system. When you go to the front desk, you see the receptionist look up your information and available rooms through this system. These systems can be on a local server or in the cloud. The booking systems that exist today for hotels’ internal systems are outdated because they do not integrate with Internet channels and 3rd party booking systems. If they do integrate, they are very expensive. These systems also limit the marketability of the hotels.
Have you ever visited a hotel website, clicked on “Book a Room” and been redirected to another site to complete the booking? These are the outdated systems that do not let hotels have their own booking engines on their site. Of course, there are a lot of problems with this:
- Not Taking Advantage of Booking.com and Expedia.com
These websites are not evil. They provide a service that lets people all around the world find your hotel. Frankly, they deserve the commission they get because they spend millions of dollars in marketing.
The problem arises when a hotel owner does not take advantage of this traffic. The ideal thing to do would be to provide great service to your guests so you get great reviews for your property. Furthermore, create a follow-up strategy and a relationship with the customer so they choose to book directly through your site the next time they decide to visit your city.
Most hotels miss this opportunity because they don’t have an integrated booking system on their websites nor the right follow up and upsell strategies in place.
- Outdated Systems Kill ROIIf someone is on your hotel’s website and is not able to get quick information on available rooms, you are losing money! If he clicks a “book” link and goes to another website, you are killing that person’s shopping experience.
95% of current hotel management and booking systems operate in a manner where the hotel loses money. The systems should be integrated in such a way that hotel operations, online booking systems and marketing initiatives are all integrated into one platform.
- Tracking ROI Marketing DollarsLet’s say that you have a hotel with a 100-room capacity. You will most likely submit your inventory on all the big travel sites. You are paying them a per-booking commission. You might also be spending money on marketing and paid ads on Google as well as content generation for your blog. How do you know for sure which efforts are paying off?
The only way to track different marketing initiatives is to have an integrated website and booking system that allows you to actually track users, engagement and bookings. If you do not have this system, you are spending money on marketing blindly.
Scalable Solution and Hosting
Hotels in the 21st century need a scalable and integrated system. Booking.com and Expedia might be popular today but many travel portals and vendors pop up each day. The system should be able to integrate with all of these portals and track the individual number of bookings per portal.
This system also needs to be scalable for all hotels and properties. Small hotel chains as well as travel agencies could take advantage of such a system.
Upsells are critical. A system that allows custom upsells from room upgrades to dinner packages will allow the hotel to improve its “per booking” dollar value.
Responsive Design for Mobile and Tablets
Responsive design for hotels is now a must! Up to 55% of online bookings are now made on mobile and tablet devices. Where does that leave your website? People may be browsing for rooms and deals on your site using their tablets, or they may simply want to book right then and there. You website should be able to handle these requests.
Responsive design allows users to access the same website without having to go to different desktop, mobile and table versions.
80% of online booking systems on the market do not allow property owners to own the website or booking process. As a hotel owner or manager, you must own your website, booking engine and anything new that results from technology relevant to the leisure and travel industry. There are usually high switching costs from hosting companies and booking systems if you decide to switch providers. You will avoid these issues by owning your own website and platform.
At Optimum7, we believe in scalability, owning your property and improving the efficiency of a business model. We have been extensively working on a hotel and travel booking platform that allows you to do all of the above and more. We were able to integrate all of the above with a WordPress installation to provide the ultimate solution for hotels, bed and breakfasts, motels, inns and travel agencies.
Contact us today and let us free you from high booking commissions with a scalable and cost effective solution.