Industry  |  5 April 2021  |  Joris Vanlessen  |  4 minute read

What are the 5 best central reservation systems?

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One of the most important parts of running hotel operations is streamlining processes, and there’s no more efficient way to do this than having a central reservation system. So what exactly is a central reservation system for hotels and how does it work?

A central reservations system is a platform used to manage and distribute inventory, rates, and reservations in a centralized manner.

First the CRS gets the inventory from the property management system and thereby distributes information on rates and availability in real time to third parties, OTAs, channel managers, and other direct channels (such as the hotel’s own call center). Reservations are then sent back from these channels to the CRS and synched with the PMS.

CRSs are useful for hotel marketing managers and revenue managers to distribute different promotions and offers, adjust prices quickly across all channels, and to manage reservations. There are several options available, which we’ll discuss in further detail in the article.

Now that you have a better idea of what central reservations systems are, let’s look at the top central reservations systems of 2021.

 

The top 5 central reservation systems of 2021

There are several different central reservations options available in today’s hospitality industry such as SynXis Central Reservations, Amadeus, Pegasus CRS, Guest Centric and Windsurfer CRS by SHR. Let’s take a look one by one at how these systems work, the pros and cons, and their HT score (an algorithm by Hotel Tech Report that tracks product rankings).

SynXis Central Reservation

The SynXis Central Reservation system by Sabre is a comprehensive inventory and reservations management system with an HT score of 8 out of 100 (although it ranks much higher in the popularity index). The good news about SynXis CRS is that it was created by Sabre, one of the leading providers for hospitality solutions technology, with the aim of unlocking value and revenue for hoteliers. 

SynXis CRS allows you to execute your distribution strategy and keep track of related metrics thanks to a reporting dashboard. It also offers a channel manager and OTA distribution system, as well as a dynamic pricing scheme. You can manage multiple properties at once and you can also sync it up with your PMS. The main objectives are to help drive direct bookings, optimize distribution, manage business, and increase guest loyalty. 

The main pro of this system is that it’s very easy-to-use. There is also a great option to do price managing by season that also gives you the opportunity to configure promotion codes. Furthermore, the channel manager allows you to connect with many distribution channels and it has a great booking engine.

Some of the cons are the fact that there are no e-payment solutions at the end of the booking process and there is no way to manage loyalty cards. In addition, it would be ideal if the walk-through training guides were better, and if you could see how information is being displayed in real time.

Amadeus

Amadeus is a reservations and booking engine that automates distribution across different channels, whether that be web, mobile, voice, travel agent, OTA or metasearch channels. In addition it centralizes management of inventory, rates, and pricing. It has an HT ranking of 21 out of 100.

The SaaS technology allows you to host applications in the cloud and makes them available worldwide. The idea behind this system is to leverage booking engines to centralize management and only work with one vendor for both distribution and booking requirements, which is one of the main pros of this CRS. Another pro is the fact that there are many options for revenue and pricing strategies. 

Furthermore, the customer support is very friendly and helpful, although sometimes a little delayed. On the other hand, the reports are sometimes complicated to read.

Windsurfer by SHR

Windsurfer has an impresive HT score of 84 out of 100. Windsurfer CRS offers advanced features in order to manage rate and inventory across all distribution channels. It is one of the more powerful booking engines on the market and has very strong connections to different distribution channels. You can easily sell your rooms, packages and add-ons virtually, thanks to its responsive design and a shopping-cart booking process.

The pros are the fact that you have a revenue manager assigned to your property to offer unique insight into your revenue management strategy. In addition, it has persuasive messaging to convert customers, and top technology.

Some of the cons of Windsurfer are the fact that sometimes it’s hard to find what you are looking for in the menu navigation related to rates and reservations. The fees are also steep for smaller businesses, and can add up quickly.

GuestCentric

This central reservations system gets an HT score of 77 out of 100, ranking third thanks to its simplified and fully integrated solutions. This CRS allows you to generate direct reservations, manage inventory, and easily measure revenue. As with other CRSs, the idea is that you can centralize reservations in one interface.

One of the pros of GuestCentric is the fact that it’s user-friendly and easy to connect with different options for reservations. The reporting system is very good and it can also be used as a channel manager, while the platform is intuitive and easy to work with.

On the other hand, there isn’t a lot of flexibility when it comes to creating promotions and the interface is not streamlined across mobile and desktop versions. Ideally, they would also offer the option to allow bookings with different room types at the same time.

Pegasus

Last but not least is Pegasus CRS. It’s arguably the best CRS, with an HT score of 100 out of 100, in addition to winning the 2021 Best CRS award at the Hotel Tech Awards. It’s a cloud-based reservations system that also connects with all the distribution channels, but especially prioritizes the hotel’s website. With this CRS you can manage rates and inventory.

The pros of Pegasus are its support team and the fact that the software is easy to manage. Furthermore, it’s easy to download reports and inventory for revenue management purposes, and it integrates well with the necessary distribution channels.

Some of the cons are the fact that the backend is a little out-of-date, and that the group inventory and rate distribution require a lot of maintenance.

Conclusion

In this article we’ve looked at the top 5 central reservations systems of 2021: SynXis CRS, Amadeus, Pegasus CRS, GuestCentric and Windsurfer by SHR. We’ve looked at how they work and their pros and cons, as well as their HT score. 

There’s a lot to keep in mind when choosing a CRS, such as its ability to integrate with distribution channels, generate reservations and manage inventory. It’s also important to look at the quality of the reports, and the ability to do revenue management. Other things to keep in mind are the user interface; it should be easy to use and make your life easier, while at the same time offering integrated solutions.

Rest assured that no matter which of these five CRSs you choose, you’ll be able to better manage your hotel reservations, rates, and promotions. By taking advantage of today’s technology, hoteliers can reduce human error and keep reservations and availability in check so that the hotel maintains good working relationships with third-parties, direct channels, channel managers and OTAs. Having a central reservations system is without a doubt one of the most important investments you can make for your property as a hotelier in today’s world.

 

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Joris Vanlessen | 5 April 2021

I like to set a bar for myself, obtaining my goals and setting out new ones. Keeping me challenged is the best self-motivation for me to thrive. Me in short: - Multilingual (4 fluent, 1 extra for small talk) - Designer (Adobe CS & GIMP) - Builder (Wordpress, Sitecore, Drupal, HTML) - Writer (Journalist, content & copywriter) - Coach & team player (In the office & on the football pitch) - Dreamer (Out of the box is my domain) - Open minded (New experiences excite me)

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