The OnRes Blog

The Ultimate Checklist: Essential Features for Hotel Booking Engines

By: Steve Behrisch , President & CEO

In today’s digital era, the hospitality industry is witnessing a significant shift towards online bookings. 

With this change, the importance of a robust and efficient hotel booking engine cannot be overstated. 

This article will delve into the essential hotel booking engine features that small and mid-sized hotels should consider when selecting a booking engine.

Table of Contents

What is a Hotel Booking Engine?

A hotel booking engine is a software application used to securely process direct reservations through a hotel’s website. 

It enables visitors to check the availability of rooms, view room types and rates, and finally, make a booking. 

The right hotel booking engine features can significantly enhance the user experience, leading to increased direct bookings and revenue.

Features to Look for in a Hotel Booking Engine

Here are the top features a booking engine of a small or mid-sized hotel should have. 

1. User-friendly Interface

A user-friendly interface is one of the most critical hotel booking engine features. The booking process should be simple, intuitive, and quick. The fewer steps it takes to complete a booking, the better.

  • Ease of use: The interface should be easy to navigate, with clear instructions and prompts.
  • Mobile-friendly: With the increasing use of smartphones, the booking engine should be mobile-friendly.
  • Visual appeal: High-quality images and a clean, attractive design can significantly enhance the user experience.

2. Multiple Language Support

To cater to a global audience, your hotel booking engine should support multiple languages. 

This feature allows international guests to make reservations in their native language, enhancing their booking experience.

  • Language options: The more languages the booking engine supports, the wider the audience it can cater to.
  • Currency conversion: Along with language support, the booking engine should also offer currency conversion options.
#OnResTip: Did you know that OnRes booking engine is available in EIGHT primary languages?

3. Flexible Search Options

Flexible search options are another essential feature. Customized search filters allow guests to narrow down their options based on their preferences, such as room type, price range, and dates of stay.

  • Date flexibility: Guests should be able to search for availability based on flexible dates.
  • Filter options: The more filter options available, the easier it is for guests to find what they’re looking for.

4. Secure Payment Gateway

A secure payment gateway is a must-have feature. It ensures safe and reliable transactions, giving guests peace of mind when making a booking.

  • Security: The booking engine should adhere to the highest security standards to protect sensitive customer data.
  • Payment options: It should support a variety of payment methods, including credit cards, debit cards, and digital wallets.
#OnResTip: The OnRes hotel booking system is integrated with prevalent payment gateways like PayPal, Stripe to make it seamless for your guests to make a direct booking with you. 

5. Real-time Availability and Instant Confirmation

Real-time availability is a crucial feature that ensures guests see the most up-to-date room availability. It eliminates the chances of double bookings and enhances the overall booking experience.

Once a booking is made, the system should provide immediate confirmation. This feature gives guests assurance that their booking is secure.

6. Integration with Other Systems

Lastly, the booking engine should seamlessly integrate with your property management system (PMS). This integration allows for real-time synchronization of data, ensuring accurate availability and rates.

  • PMS integration: The booking engine should easily integrate with your existing PMS.
  • Channel manager integration: It should also integrate with a channel manager, allowing you to manage all your distribution channels from one place.

Frequently Asked Questions

For your independent hotel, prioritize a user-friendly booking engine with a mobile-responsive design. Secure online payments, integration with your property management system, and the ability to manage rates & packages are crucial. Consider features for upselling add-ons and promoting special offers to boost revenue.

Look for a hotel booking engine that offers an integration with your property management system (PMS). This allows two-way communication, automatically updating room availability and guest information across both platforms, saving you time and minimizing errors.

Leverage multiple channels to drive traffic to your hotel booking engine and convert website visitors into paying guests:

  • Hotel website: Ensure your website is user-friendly and prominently features your booking engine.
  • Social media marketing: Promote your hotel and special offers on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
  • Email campaigns: Run targeted email campaigns to past guests and potential customers, highlighting special offers and packages bookable directly through your engine.
  • Local listings (e.g., Google My Business): Optimize your hotel’s presence on local listings and online travel directories to increase visibility and drive direct bookings.
  • Promotional offers: Create special packages and deals exclusive to your booking engine to incentivize direct bookings.
  • Partner with travel bloggers: Collaborate with travel bloggers to showcase your hotel and link directly to your booking engine.

Yes, mobile-friendly booking engines are essential. Today, most travelers research and book hotels on their smartphones. A user-friendly mobile experience streamlines the booking process, increasing conversions and direct bookings for your hotel.

To ensure the security of guest financial information, your hotel booking engine should incorporate several key features:

  • Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption: This encrypts data transmitted between your booking engine and the guest’s browser, safeguarding sensitive information like credit card details.
  • PCI compliance: The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) outlines a set of security requirements for protecting guest payment card data. Choose a booking engine that is PCI compliant to ensure adherence to these industry standards.
  • Fraud detection tools: These tools help identify and prevent fraudulent booking attempts, protecting your hotel from financial losses.
  • Secure payment gateways: Partner with reputable payment gateway providers who utilize robust security measures to process guest payments securely.
  • Data encryption: Sensitive guest data, including names, addresses, and credit card information, should be encrypted at rest and in transit to prevent unauthorized access.
  • User authentication: Implement strong user authentication measures to restrict access to your booking engine’s administrative panel and prevent unauthorized modifications.

To optimize your conversion rate, consider these features that enhance the guest booking experience:

  • High-quality photos & virtual tours: Showcase your hotel’s amenities and ambiance with high-resolution images and virtual tours, allowing guests to explore your property virtually before booking.
  • Clear cancellation policies: Clearly communicate your cancellation policy to avoid confusion and build trust with potential guests.
  • Upselling options (e.g., spa treatments): Provide guests the opportunity to add on experiences or amenities during the booking process, increasing your revenue per stay.
  • Guest reviews & testimonials: Positive guest reviews and testimonials build trust and social proof, influencing booking decisions.
  • Multiple payment options: Offer a variety of secure payment options to cater to different guest preferences and ensure a smooth checkout process.
  • Easy-to-use booking process: A streamlined and user-friendly booking process minimizes friction and encourages guests to complete their reservations.

When choosing a hotel booking engine provider, consider these key factors:

  • Pricing & subscription models
  • Features & integrations
  • Ease of use & customer support
  • Security measures & PCI compliance
  • Mobile responsiveness
  • Reputation & customer reviews

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) mandates specific security measures to protect guest credit card information. Choose a booking engine that is PCI compliant and ensures secure storage and transmission of guest data.


The right hotel booking engine features can significantly enhance the booking experience, leading to increased direct bookings and revenue. 

Therefore, it’s essential to choose a booking engine that offers a user-friendly interface, multiple language support, flexible search options, a secure payment gateway, real-time availability, instant confirmation, and seamless integration with other systems.

Steve Behrisch, President & CEO

Steve joined the OnRes Team as an account rep in 2008 and was promoted to VP of Operations a short time later. In 2011, Steve agreed to purchase OnRes and became President and CEO, and has been steering the ship since; achieving significant milestones such as rebuilding the reservation software from the bottom up, forging new partnerships, doubling the revenue, and much more…
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