Every hotelier’s worst nightmare; double bookings are bad for business efficiency and a terrible guest experience! So what can you do about it?
Find the cause
The solution to every problem begins with finding its cause. What could be causing double bookings or over bookings?
1. Outdated information on distribution channels: If you’re being smart about your distribution, at any given point in time your inventory would be listed with multiple online channels. Updating every channel individually can be time consuming and extremely cumbersome. If not updated, even for a short period, chances of double selling are high. Even human error could cause these issues.
2. Deliberate over bookings: Sometimes properties overbook on purpose, fearing empty rooms on account of no shows or cancellations. This is especially true for smaller properties that cannot process credit cards at the time of booking and hence unable to charge cancellation fee. This is extremely unprofessional and will have your guests running to online review sites for negative feedback in no time!
What can you do about it?
1. Invest in a channel manager: Channel managers are a simple and efficient way to distribute your inventory online to multiple channels, including OTAs, GDS and your booking engine. Because it updates all channels automatically in real-time, booking errors are next to nil.
2. Get a good booking management system: A booking management system a.k.a. property management system (PMS) is a great solution to processing credit card payments securely at the time of booking. And because you always have the card details on file, you can charge cancellations if required. Safety net in place, you can now proceed with bookings correctly.
Typically you will need an online merchant account and a payment gateway to get an online payment underway. Talk to your booking management system partner or bank about it.
3. Link your booking management system to your channel manager: Having multiple systems that are not integrated will get you back to the starting point where double bookings creep in. If your front desk is linked to your channel manager, updates will be made across all systems in real-time, even when there is a walk-in or phone bookings.
Have you considered how under bookings are affecting you?
If over bookings can lead to irate customers, under bookings can severely affect your revenue.
Fearing over bookings, some property owners may allocate set inventory to channels. The problem with this model is inefficient distribution because one channel may sell all inventory allocated while another will have unsold rooms.
By following a pooled inventory system, where all your rooms are available for all your channels, you’ll be better off. Managed by a channel manager that is making real-time updates, double bookings are unlikely. And you can be sure that you’re making the most amount of revenue possible with the inventory available.