There's more than one way to book a hotel room, and these days many of your guests make their reservations via third-party booking options such as Expedia, Travelocity, or the host of other online or brick-and-mortar travel partners. This means that a potential guest's first exposure to your hotel is coming from an outside source. As such, a hotel's central reservations system (CRS) is of paramount importance in communicating descriptive sales information, rates and availability to voice reservation centers, the brand's own website, global distribution systems, online travel agencies and other travel sales partners. How accurate, convincing, and successful the CRS presents your hotel in all of these sales channels is directly determined by your on-property staff.
When the CRS's capabilities are well understood and actively managed by your staff, the system will be a powerful reservation generator. Poorly understood and casually managed, the CRS will portray your hotel in a lackluster (or worse) manner and will not deliver the full flow of bookings that the property could otherwise receive.
Here are a number of tips a hotel can follow to maximize the reservation and revenue production of its CRS.
Know the system
Have at least two people at the property become thoroughly familiar with all the functions and options in the CRS that are available to your property. Why two people? That's simple. Two people are needed to ensure continuing competence when one of your CRS team moves on.
Be certain they understand how your property is using (or not using) all of the system's functionality. A CRS offers a variety of ways to structure rates, manage inventory availability in each distribution channel, and implement revenue management style sales controls.
The CRS often offers a variety of opportunities to present photos and other visuals to support text-style sales descriptions. Not every choice, including the CRS choices that you are currently using, is necessarily the best option for your hotel. Understanding the choices will allow for an informed selection of the best and most productive ones for your property. You will be able to avoid selling at unnecessarily low rates, accepting one-night reservations when the hotel could fill more, or having the hotel appear basic and unattractive to reservation agents, travel agents and website visitors.
Use all sales functions
Your brand's central reservation system is the library for descriptive information about your hotel. This information is used by the reservation agents, the hotel's reservation centers, travel agents using the GDSs, your brand's website users, and increasingly by third-party booking site users. This vital role as the primary information source does not guarantee that the property overview, along with every room/rate description, is complete and compelling. That responsibility falls to your on-property staff.
John Burns is the founder and president of Hospitality Technology Consulting, an international consulting service that specializes in assisting hotel chains and independent properties in optimizing their central reservations and electronic distribution programs. John previously held positions with Hyatt International Hotels, Ramada and THISCO (now Pegasus Solutions) and is an AH&MA Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA).