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Hotel Booking Engine and Channel Manager for WordPress

The online business for Hotels and any other Accommodations can go the next level with e4jConnect. Have you ever thought of what benefits could bring a complete solution fully integrated with your WordPress website?

The Hotels Industry has faced many changes in the last 8-10 years with the birth of global Online Travel Agencies and various Booking Sites. The business was definitely increased for most properties, but so were the costs and the commissions they had to pay for the reservations received.

With the continuous evolution of the Internet and the devices to access the web, Hoteliers could invest some money on their own selling tool to drive more direct reservations with no or less commissions. That's how Booking Engine systems were born.

However, the OTAs still play a fundamental role for the Hotels Reservations, and so the properties need a system to centralize all the management operations and sync the availability with every sale channel. This is the Channel Manager.

Adopting a Reservation System (a Booking Engine) and a Channel Manager has become indispensable for most Accommodations, from a small B&B with a couple of rooms, passing from a simple Apartment in the hearth of a touristic city, to larger Hotels with many rooms. Beside avoid overbooking, by using a similar software solution, Hotel managers can advertise their property on many different sale channels to millions of travelers worldwide.

Why adopting a Booking System is a smart investment?

If a specific accommodation has its own website, then nowadays offering the possibility of booking directly a room from your site is probably the best choice/investment an Hotelier can do. This is the easiest way to increase direct reservations and lower costs on commissions.

A website with a Booking System that gives real-time results of the rooms availability and rates gives way more trust to the customers than a basic Contact form. One of the keys to the success of the Online Travel Agencies is the security that customers have for their reservations. They guarantee the reservations for their customers, and only a Booking Engine available on the Hotel website could give the same level of warranty, maybe by also collecting a payment to secure the reservation.

Is the Channel Manager so useful?

Using a Channel Manager definitely means adding extra costs to the management software tools of the company. However, in most cases, the Channel Manager could save you a lot of money and time. All the management operations would be centralized (rates, restrictions etc..) into your own back-end, and most of all, the rooms availability and reservations would be synced automatically across all channels. It's like hiring a robot that works all the time, 24x7, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Saving on management costs is possible by giving the right tools to the persons in charge of taking care of the rates and reservations. The Channel Manager can also avoid the risk of overbooking, so you won't have to run and close a room on the channels after receiving a reservation over the phone, or from a different channel.

The Channel Manager is not a type of software that only big companies need or can afford. Sometimes it's actually more needed by smaller companies with less people behind the scenes, because it can automatize the job a person would have to do manually. The choice of adopting this type of software obviously depends on the impact the cost can have over the yearly incoming. Considering the fact that a Booking Engine can save you money, this is more likely a suited solution for everyone who can sell at least 45 nights a year.

External Booking System vs Internal Booking System

Did you know that Booking System use different types of technology? Beside the different functions and look & feel they provide, Booking System can be based on a completely different logic by sharing the same goal. There are mainly two types of Booking System, the ones that are hosted on the provider server (External), and the ones hosted on your own server (Internal).

Finding out the type of Booking System is relatively easy. Assuming that web visitors will land on the Hotel website at https://hotel-example.com, the booking process will start after selecting the desired check-in and check-out dates (and number of guests/rooms). An External Booking System at this point will redirect the visitor to an external server, and so the booking process will take place elsewhere. The user will no longer see https://hotel-example.com in the browser address bar, but rather something similar to https://booknow.servicename.com/12345, because we are not on the Hotel website anymore. This is the most common practice, and the 99% of Booking Engines are hosted externally, meaning that they are available only on the Service Provider's website, which is where the customer personal details and credit card information will be collected on behalf of the Hotel.
It is not the best practice, nor is it convenient for the Hotel owner, because they fully depend on the System Provider. However, this is technically the only solution for certain System Providers to offer their Booking Engine. The biggest problem with these solutions is that the Hotel website becomes pretty much useless, it could be just a static HTML page with no back-end functionalities.

Other provider

The alternative solution to External systems is the Internal Booking Engine. Taking the example above, the entire booking process with an Internal Booking Engine would take place on the same website as where it started, so on https://hotel-example.com. Customers will never be sent away from the Hotel website. They could leave the site just for some minutes, maybe to pay the reservation by credit card on the Bank's website (like PayPal for example), but then they would be sent back to the Hotel website. In this case, the URL in the address bar of the browser will never change.
The main advantages of using an Internal Booking Engine is that the Hotel actually owns the software, and the Hotel collects the customer personal details and payment information. There are no really disadvantages for using this kind of technology, but it should be noted that the requirements for using a similar software solution are completely different. In fact, the website must be built with a specific CMS in order to be able to host the software internally. Here comes WordPress and VikWP.

Vik Channel Manager solution

The power of WordPress + Vik Booking and Vik Channel Manager

Two Plugins combined together to provide Booking Engine and Channel Manager functionalities to the beauty of a website powered by WordPress. This is what Hotels can get, and what webmasters can give. A tailored website with a custom booking process that reflects the company in every single aspect. No redirection to external URLs and no dependencies on third party providers. The Hotel website is the owner of the software and all data collected, from the customer information to the payment details.

This revolutionary solution opens the doors to both Hotels and Webmasters that can finally choose an alternative to the same proprietary systems. As long as the Hotel website is based or will be based on WordPress, getting started with Vik Booking and Vik Channel Manager will be as easy as installing two Plugins.
There are no specific Server Requirements for using the two Plugins, but of course the Hotel needs to have a working hosting plan that supports WordPress (PHP 5.2.4+, MySQL5.0+).

This Blog Post is not supposed to highlight the advantages of using Vik Booking and Vik Channel Manager from an economical/commercial point of view, we have just discussed about technical differences, but this solution can also be much cheaper than external systems. To summarize, beside the purchase of the two Plugins, it is also necessary to have an active subscription for the e4jConnect Channel Manager service. This will generate an API Key for the plugin Vik Channel Manager to enable the channels you subscribed for.

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