Post updated on 30 Jun 2020
An online booking system is a software that lets you receive and manage reservations made on your website. It's a useful tool for anyone who manages accommodation or offers travel adventures. Using a booking system for your property serves two main goals:
- automate reservation and booking management to take work off your shoulders and save your time
- present guests with an intuitive booking experience through a highly customizable booking form
These goals already hint how your booking system should function and what your booking form should look like, whether you run a surf camp or a yoga retreat venue. You want it to be simple to use yet state-of-the-art. Your website visitors should be tempted to book instantly.
Choosing the right online booking software can be a hard decision. On the market, there are many options that are suitable for different business scenarios. To make this task easier for you, we identified twelve must-have features that your online booking system shoould provide.
The booking form should enable your guests to check availability and book directly for the desired period, presenting them with a nice and visual calendar. Aside from that, a Backoffice calendar displaying information on rooms, bookings, and availability in a clear and colorfully categorized manner will help your receptionists keep a good overview, especially hectic in situations.
2. Frontoffice styling and images
The design of your booking form should be customizable in a way that it looks very similar to your website. Featuring photos of your rooms and products will give your guests a clear picture of what you are offering. High quality images will make your descriptions more attractive as well.
3. Real-time booking
A contact form on your website is OK, but it doesn’t give the booker a safe feeling about their upcoming vacation. With an online booking form, you can make this ‘potential vacation’ a safe bet. By paying the deposit amount, guests can lock in their spot with you. They are ready and confident to book their flights.
4. Multiple payment options
Everybody has their individual preference when it comes to paying for products online. While some people like the ease of using PayPal, others prefer to pay on credit card or a bank transfer. Broadening your clients’ options can increase the number of online bookings on your website.
5. Different languages and currencies
Your booking system should enable you to work with different languages in the booking form. This way, your guests can book in their preferred language and currency, which should then trigger all automated customer communication to function in this language as well. They will feel right at home and more comfortable with booking.
6. Discounts and gift vouchers
Working with advertising campaigns is a great way to expang your target audience. A good booking system should allow you to apply promo codes. It should not come down to simple one-time discounts and vouchers though. The best booking software enables you to configure discounts for products, specific time period, the total amount spent, or the number of people in the booking.
7. Email automation
This is what will probably save you the most time! Back and forth emailing about booking with guests should be in the past, if your new reservation management system features email automation. These emails should pre-populate with booking details and feature templates like booking confirmation, payment reminders, request for arrival information, and more. Also, a "welcome home" email asking for a review in exchange for a voucher would be a nice gesture, don’t you think?
8. Channel management
Make sure your new booking system has integrations with a channel manager. That will let you synchronize availability and bookings with your offers on Airbnb, Booking.com, Hostelworld, and more. To avoid overbookings, it needs to happen in real time.
To avoid for you to spend time on writing invoices, your reservation software should automatically create those for you. Pay attention to detail here, as a good invoice features an invoice number, various tax rates, and a clear breakdown of products
Your booking system helps you manage all of your booking data. Customer data you use for marketing purposes, as well as financial data for bookkeeping. Integrations with third-parties for marketing tools such as Facebook or Google Adwords are important to make use of this data for marketing your business. Integrations with financial management systems are also important for handling your business finances.
A state-of-the-art booking system allows you to get a quick overview on how your business is doing for you to be able to take immediate action. This should include overviews on payment statuses, revenues, occupancy rates, best-selling packages, or bookings per channel.
11. Third-party integrations
With your new booking system, you should be able to use all the data that you gather over time. This could mean exporting customer data and booking form behavior insights to use it for marketing purposes such as newsletters,, as well as exporting financial data for bookkeeping reasons. Integrations with third-party systems will make it easy for you to send data around and out it to use.
12. Web check-in
A smart web check-in option saves your time upon the guest's arrival. They can inform you what kind of transportation they're using or when you should expect them. You can also ask for their dietary restriction or offer some additional services.
Now that you have a better picture of the most important features for your booking system you can start looking to get your own. Read our article about'the pros and cons of buying a booking software and building your own system' to help you make the decision. Or, get in contact with Bookinglayer for advice on getting your own booking system for your property.