Functionality Missing for Central Reservation Systems, Hoteliers Say

REDWOOD SHORES, CA—Most operators are dissatisfied with their central reservations systems (CRS), but don’t know how to fix the problem, according to a new survey.

The survey, “The Next Generation Central Reservation System – Implications for Future CRS Developments,” commissioned by Oracle Hospitality, was conducted by analyst firm h2c, and surveyed more than 90 hotel chains to assess the state of central reservation systems (CRS) and the improvements needed to prioritize IT development and, ultimately, enhance guest service.

Among the most significant findings: dissatisfaction with CRS is common among hotel operators, with one-third of respondents reporting they are missing more than 30% of required functionality. Furthermore, half of all chains reported missing at least one key CRS functionality.

Although respondents readily cited their CRS deficiencies, many struggled to identify means to remedy shortcomings. Such issues underscore the need for technology providers/CRS vendors to collaborate with clients to truly understand problems before driving innovation with new features.

The research scope focused on an online survey and expert interviews with hotel chains in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the Americas and Asia-Pacific—representing more than 11,000 properties and 1.7 million rooms worldwide. The primary objectives of the survey were to determine chains’ satisfaction level with their current CRS solution, identify missing features and functionalities, and seek recommendations to achieve improvements.

Other highlights of the study include the following:

  • Customer relationship management (CRM) poses the largest demand for CRS integration. Small and medium-sized hotel groups, with or without full-fledged loyalty programs, are under intense pressure to improve their guest experience to better compete with the personalization capabilities of global chains. CRS integration is minimal and even non-existent in some regions, making it a critical priority for CRS vendors to address—either with a proprietary product or a third-party integration.
  • Internet booking engine (IBE) reservations are the greatest value driver, but underperforming. Though hotel chains are changing their online sales policy (including price disparity and/or offering free benefits) to compete against OTAs, the IBE needs to facilitate more sophisticated business rules. Such trends are mandating a reinvention of the IBE, which would enable more e-commerce functionality such as discounting packages.
  • Future distribution management tasks will shift to non-CRS systems. From the hoteliers’ perspective, some key CRS tasks such as availability and rates (ARI) management, will likely migrate to other systems in their IT portfolio or become part of a still-to-be-developed platform solution.

Based on the findings, h2c forecasts that PMS and CRS solutions will continue to merge in the future, either in the form of hybrid solutions or as entirely new hotel management platforms.