Online hotel reservations

Online hotel reservations

Online hotel reservation is becoming a very popular method for booking hotel rooms. Travelers can book rooms from home, using online security to protect their privacy and financial information, and using several online travel agents to compare prices and facilities at different hotels.

Prior to the Internet, travelers could write or telephone the hotel directly, or use a travel agent to make a reservation. Nowadays, online travel agents will have pictures of hotels and rooms, information on prices and deals, and even information on local resorts. Many also allow reviews of the traveler to be recorded with the online travel agent.

Online hotel reservations are also helpful for making last minute travel arrangements. Hotels may drop the price of a room if some rooms are still available. There are several websites that specialize in searches for deals on rooms.

Hotels face several challenges in selling online directly to consumers. There are numerous electronic distribution "channels", and connecting to them, then managing the room inventory and rates to be offered online is essential.

Large hotel chains typically have direct connections to the airline national distribution systems (GDS) (Sabre, Galileo, Amadeus and Worldspan) that in turn provides hotel information directly to the hundreds of thousands of travel agents that align themselves with one of these systems. Individual hotels and small hotel chains cannot afford the expense of these direct connections and turn to other companies to provide the connections.

Several large online travel sites are, in effect, travel agencies. They send the hotel's information and rates "downstream" to literally thousands of online travel sites, most of which act as travel agents so that they can receive commission payments from the hotels for any business booked on their websites.

Lastly (oddly enough), persons can book directly on an individual hotel's website. An increasing number of hotels are building their own websites to allow them to market their hotels directly on the web. Non-franchise chain hotels require a "booking engine" application to be attached to their website to permit persons to book rooms in real time. One advantage of booking with the hotel directly is the use of the hotel's full cancellation policy as well as not needing a deposit in most situations.

To improve the likelihood of filling rooms, hotels tend to use several of the above systems. The content on many hotel reservation systems is becoming increasingly similar as all the hotels sign up to all the sites. Companies thus have to rely on specially negotiated rates with the hotels or hotel chains, or trust in the influence of search engine rankings to draw in customers.

The ultimate service provided by these companies to the hotels and the online consumer, is that they provide a single database from which all reservation sources draw immediate room availability and rates. It is very important that hotels integrate with all the supply channels so that their guests are able to make accurate online bookings.


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Hotel Reservation

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