What is a hotel reservation system and how does it work?

Increasing and managing hotel reservations is a top priority for hoteliers. Maximizing bookings and streamlining the management process not only enhances the hotel guest experience but also improves staff efficiency and general operations. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that hotel reservation systems are indispensable and crucial for every hotel. 

A hotel reservation system is a digital hotel software that stores, manages, and processes all information related to guest reservations from all booking channels. Sometimes called a “central reservation system”, the software is a hub for guest information, room inventory, room rates, OTA or third-party listings. It is often integrated with a property management system and a revenue management software to reflect real-time updates in hotel operations. 

Advanced hotel reservation systems also actively gather customer data, helps in synching bookings across other channels, and makes the appropriate resource allocations in real-time. 


 A hotel reservation system is a hotel software that helps hoteliers automate the guest reservation process.


What’s the difference between a hotel reservation system and a hotel booking engine?

A hotel booking engine is a stand-alone hotel software. A hotel reservation system is a comprehensive digital application for processing hotel booking from all channels.


While often used interchangeably, a hotel reservation system is different from a hotel booking engine. 

Read More: Hotel Booking Engines VS OTAs: Which Brings in More Room Reservations?

A hotel booking engine is a stand-alone hotel software guests use to make direct reservations from a hotel’s website or social media accounts. On the other hand, a hotel reservation system is a comprehensive digital software that processes the said reservations from not only the hotel’s booking engine, but also from OTAs, third-party booking channels, phone reservations, emails, and walk-in bookings. 

The system allows hotel operators to manage and monitor all reservations in real-time and can be integrated with other hotel management systems. 


Learn more about hotel reservation systems with a FREE consultation. 


How does a hotel reservation system work? 

A hotel reservation system works by gathering all hotel bookings and relevant information from all channels and stores them for easy access and management.

A hotel reservation system provides hotels with a bird’s eye view of the entire reservation process.

When booking, guests can make their own reservations through the hotel website’s booking engine, inputting their personal information, requests, and other necessary data including length of stay, room preference, and number of guests. 

If the hotel reservation is integrated with a revenue management software and a property management system, real-time updates on daily rates, revenue, and room distribution are reflected as well. The reservation system then stores this information for the front desk staff to access during pre-arrival preparations and during check-in. 

Furthermore, hotel reservations systems also store important data on guest profiles, booking patterns, room and rate preferences, and other information that can be invaluable in strategic planning and decision-making. 


The top benefits of a hotel reservation system

Some benefits of using a hotel reservation system include increased efficiency, higher revenues, and reduced booking errors.

Integrating a reservation system is beneficial for both large- and small-scale hotels. The system improves efficiency, reduces human errors, and provides insight into booking patterns of guests. 

Here are the top benefits of a hotel reservation system. 

1.    Improved staff efficiency

2.    More control and customization over hotel listings

3.    Reduced human errors and booking mistakes

4.    Access to customer data


1. Hotel reservation systems improve staff efficiency by automating the entire booking process. 

The main benefit of a reservation system is that it essentially removes the necessity for human intervention once it’s up and running. Once the reservation forms, rooms, rates, and restrictions are in place, the system can be left to operate independently with very little manual adjustments. 

And because guests are making their own reservations, hotel staff only need to check on it for pre-arrival preparations and check-in. Hotel employees are free to focus on more important tasks and attend to guests.


2. In-house reservation systems provide hoteliers more control to customize the booking process.

Because hoteliers have access to the entire booking process, they can customize every aspect to suit their needs. For example, if they want to learn more about their guests, they can add more information fields to the reservation form. Or if they want to promote suites over standard rooms, they can distribute more available suites over smaller rooms. 

The added customization makes it easier for hoteliers to direct customers to higher value rooms and upsell extra perks or services during the booking process. With a strategically designed reservation process, hoteliers can potentially earn higher revenues at no additional cost. 

Read More: Hotel Revenue Management Tips


3. Automated hotel reservation systems reduce the risk of human errors and booking mistakes. 

Managing reservations manually is time-consuming and prone to errors. Double-booking, overbooking, and mistakes in room distribution are common reservation problems that can easily be addressed by using an automated system. With a hotel reservation system, hoteliers need to only customize the booking process once and let the software manage and process bookings on its own. 

Moreover, because guests make their own reservations, front desk staff are cleared from ever making mistakes in making bookings for guests. The system takes care of even the most complicated room reservations without the risk of a misheard name, a confusion in booking dates, or providing the same room to different guests. 


4. Hoteliers can access guest and booking data gathered by a hotel reservation system. 

Because a hotel reservation system processes everything related to making a hotel booking, it also stores every bit of information inputted. Hoteliers can identify their guest demographics, booking patterns, their most popular rooms, and the most preferred booking days and rates just from accessing their system’s data. 

Using this data is vital in making improvements not just to the reservation process, but can also affect revenue management, daily operations, and long-term business planning. Without a reservation system, hoteliers can miss out on valuable insights or run the risk of having to purchase the information from third-party channels or data companies. 

Read More: Is Customer Data Still Relevant? The Answer May Surprise You


Hotel reservation systems are necessary hotel management tools for staying competitive in the hospitality market. 

Hotel reservation systems have become part of the new standard in modern hospitality.  Not only does it help make the reservation process easier for guests, but it also helps hoteliers streamline their reservation management and gather data for future use. The comprehensive system is an indispensable part of staying competitive in the market, earning higher revenue, and improving overall performance.


Some benefits of using a hotel reservation system include increased efficiency, higher revenues, and reduced booking errors.


Learn more about other hotel management systems on our blog. 

Interested in setting up a reservation system for your hotel? Choose ZEN Hospitality Solutions. Integrate our booking engine, channel manager, and property management system to create a complete hotel reservation system. Schedule a FREE consultation to learn more about the system. 


Frequently Asked Questions About Hotel Reservation Systems

What is a hotel reservation system?

A hotel reservation system is a digital hotel software that stores, manages, and processes all information related to guest reservations from all booking channels.

Why is a hotel reservation system important?

A hotel reservation system significantly improves efficiency, reduces human errors, and helps hoteliers gather insights from customer data and past bookings. 

Is a hotel reservation system the same as a hotel booking engine? 

A hotel reservation system is different from a hotel booking engine. A booking engine is a stand-alone hotel software that only allows guests to make reservations. A reservation system processes and manages all hotel bookings from different channels and stores all related information. 

What are the benefits of using a hotel reservation system?

1.    Improved staff efficiency

2.    More control and customization over hotel listings

3.    Reduced human errors and booking mistakes

5.    Access to customer data

What is an affordable hotel reservation system? 

ZEN Hospitality Solutions can provide your hotel with a booking engine, channel manager, and a property management system to create an affordable and complete hotel reservation system. 



Article by: Ayna Gonzales