Guest behaviour and booking habits have seen a change thanks to artificial intelligence and mobile usage making it incumbent on the hotels to have an effective CRS. As a result, the hoteliers’ demand for innovative and improved CRS services continues to grow. Donald Gasper asks what options are available.

A central reservation system is the central hub of your hotel group’s operations, centralising the data from all your property management systems (PMS), call centres and phone reservation systems.

The SiteMinder cloud platform, for example, integrates your CRS with the leading online travel agencies (OTA) to increase your reach and lower your cost of distribution. With SiteMinder, inventory and rate updates to and from your CRS are automatic and real-time, eliminating manual and lowering your cost of acquisition.

SiteMinder defines a CRS or Central Reservation System as a type of reservation software that is used to update and maintain information of a hotel pertaining to inventory and rates so that hotels are able to manage guest reservations and the process around such reservations in real time.

A single source of truth, a single system of record

These reservations are managed across a multitude of distribution channels such as the 3rd party booking websites, direct internet booking engines, the global distribution system (GDS), wholesalers and more. A CRS centralises the data from the property management systems (PMS), distribution channels, call centres and phone reservation systems used across one or more properties.

Frank Trampert, Managing Director & Chief Commercial Officer, Sabre Hospitality Solutions, Asia Pacific.

Frank Trampert, Managing Director & Chief Commercial Officer, Sabre Hospitality Solutions, Asia Pacific, says that Sabre’s leading CRS solution, SynXis Central Reservations (SynXis CR), connects hoteliers to the points of sale they want to be in, all from one, convenient place. “It’s a versatile solution, compatible with over 450 online channels, all major Global Distribution Systems (GDS), 14 different revenue management systems, 130 property management systems, 18 customer relationship management systems, and 24 content management systems. SynXis CR streamlines workflow processes by managing rates, inventory, and stay controls on a daily basis, and can also help support revenue strategies by driving ancillary revenue through customisable packages and pricing.”

The SynXis CR solution is at the core of Sabre’s innovative SynXis platform – the single system of record to manage availability, rates and inventory (ARI), across all channels of distribution. Thanks to its holistic integration and data analytics capabilities, the platform also enables hoteliers to provide highly personalised offers. Designed to increase direct bookings and deliver exceptional, personalised guest experiences along the lifecycle of a customer’s journey, the platform allows hoteliers to keep up with the rapidly changing booking habits of customers.

Sabre’s innovative SynXis platform.

From CRS to Connectivity

Inga Latham, CPO for SiteMinder.

Inga Latham, CPO for SiteMinder, has a different view: “I would say the demand from hoteliers is not for a more effective CRS, as such. The demand is for connectivity, which not too long ago was possible only through a CRS. With the dawn of channel managers and the evolution of those systems into more holistic hotel platforms, the term ‘CRS’ has, in fact, become less relevant. Where once it was the only way, today it’s about connectivity – in every sense, between systems, between hotel properties, and between hotels and their guests – to enable what a CRS used to do and much, much more.

“Is it a shift spurred by changing guest behaviours and habits? Absolutely. Not only are those changing, but, like other consumers of digital media, today’s guests expect immediacy and demand more personalised customer service. Plus, they travel more, and their standards are higher. Where, once, discounted rooms meant a discounted guest experience, today, because guests are spoilt for choice, a memorable experience is expected every time.”

For hoteliers, what all of this means, says Latham, is a need to excel at every stage of a guest’s journey – not just during their stay, but before and after. And that requires technology to bring every piece of data together, so guest profiles go far deeper than the type of room those guests booked, or how many nights they’re staying. “One could suggest that the ability to predict a guest’s behaviour, habits and preferences is the new form of revenue management.”

“For hoteliers that are looking for a solution, the question is no longer about a more sophisticated CRS that’s siloed in nature and limited in its capacity to decipher data. It’s about a modern, end-to-end solution that recognises there are some brilliant, specialised systems out there – whether they’re best-in-class property management systems, CRMs, guest feedback tools, loyalty systems or something else completely – and making sure they all speak to each other so every data point has meaning, every guest interaction is personalised, and ultimately every guest experience and hotelier experience is a great one.”

Perhaps it’s time we as an industry stop speaking about Central Reservations Systems and speak, instead, about what hoteliers really need today and that is a Central Connectivity System.