Hotel Reservation Systems:
The Definitive Comparison (2018)

Hotel Reservation Systems

Looking for a hotel reservation system but having trouble picking from the options available?

Our guide has you covered!

We’ve taken a look at the leaders in the field and compared them in terms of various features:

Here’s a shortlist of our top picks:

  • Cloudbeds
  • Bookinglayer
  • eZee Absolute
  • Hotelogix
  • Hoteliga
  • SabeeApp
  • Frontdesk Anywhere
  • innRoad

We’ve selected these based on more than just customer base: we’ve chosen systems which are are already widely in use in the market as well as newcomers with outstanding feedback.

Yes, it’s a subjective list, but we can guarantee our choices are 100% unbiased (i.e. no one’s paid us or asked us to include them).

Please suggest your favorite hotel reservation software in the comments below!

NOTE: This review includes only web/cloud-based systems. Desktop apps are obsolete IMHO and come with a number of disadvantages compared to web-based and cloud software.

Let’s get started!


User Interface

When was the last time you opened Gmail or Twitter or Expedia or even your smartphone’s menu and marveled at the amount of effort and ingenuity it took to make such a clean, elegant, usable product?

Users have simply come to expect this level of design in the apps they use.

This applies to hotel management software as well: it needs to be beautiful, intuitive, and fast.

Here’s a look at how our selected systems compare to each other in this arena. As you’ll see, there are some clear winners and losers here!

Cloudbeds

Here we have Cloudbeds’ calendar view:

Cloudbeds Calendar

Looking good here: the design is clean, the color palette is tasteful, and it’s easy to get all the info you need about accommodations in one place.

Their online booking form also gets high marks from us, but the best feature of all is you can adapt it to your own brand:

Cloudbeds Booking Engine


Bookinglayer

Bookinglayer’s reservation system takes a more minimalist approach:

Bookinglayer Booking Form

It doesn’t offer the same level of customization as Cloudbeds, but it has its own features which more than make up for that (as we’ll discuss later).

We also give high marks to Bookinglayer’s beautifully designed backoffice. It reminded us a lot of Basecamp, a legend in project management software.

Take a look at Bookinglayer’s backoffice:


eZee Absolute

eZee Absolute looks a lot like a copy-and-paste implementation of their eZee FrontDesk desktop app as opposed to a modern web application.

The design isn’t terrible by a longshot, but it looks like it might have stepped out of a time portal from 5-10 years ago:

eZee Absolute Front Office

On the flip side, their booking engine is a bit more polished and modern-looking.

eZee Absolute Booking Engine


Hotelogix

Hotelogix is well known and widely used, but like eZee above it also suffers from a bad case of “Desktop on the Web” syndrome.

On the upside, people who are familiar with the desktop versions of property management systems (PMS) should have little trouble transitioning to their web-based doppelgangers.

Hotelogix Frond Desk


Hoteliga

We’ve got Hoteliga on our list because it’s got a ton of positive reviews from customers. People really like this hotel booking system!

The design, however, leaves a lot to be desired. Check out the eye-searing colors in their calendar view:

Hoteliga Calendar

Just who picked out the colors on these charts?

Hoteliga Design


SabeeApp

Let’s get back to safer waters now!

From the moment you first visit the SabeeApp homepage, you get the feeling these people understand and care about user experience and design.

Their calendar is easily one of the best designed on the market:

SabeeApp Calendar

The booking system is also well designed. The only issue we have is that the “Show Rates” button looks a bit too big for its caption, but that’s a small nitpick.

SabeeApp Booking Engine


Frontdesk Anywhere

Frontdesk Anywhere offers another shining example of solid design. Color choices are distinct yet muted, and the reservation system is optimized for mobile (an important consideration!):

Frontdesk Anywhere


innRoad

Look at innRoad’s reservation form. We’re pretty sure it’s physically impossible for a team from the heart of NY to make bad interface design, and as expected, they’ve knocked it out of the park:

innRoad Front Desk


Overall

Cloudbeds, Bookinglayer, SabeeApp, innRoad, and Frontdesk Anywhere get our highest marks in terms of interface design and user experience. These companies know how to hit all the bullet points we discussed before: beautiful and intuitive.

As for eZee Absolute, Hotelogix and Hoteliga …maybe you guys should look for a new interface designer.

Best Hotel Management Software Compared (Design, Booking Engines, Payment Options, Integrations, Customer Reviews)Click To Tweet

Booking Engine and Online Payments

Do you absolutely need a booking engine?

Strictly speaking, no.

You can let your customers book through Booking.com and Expedia and use your hotel management software for tracking.

But wouldn’t you like to get payments directly without paying those huge commission fees?

So yes, if you’re smart, you’ll want a full-fledged Internet Booking Engine (IBE) so you can let customers book accommodations online directly through your website.

eZee Absolute IBE

eZee Absolute IBE

Fortunately, every hotel reservation system on our list features an IBE, so no matter which one you choose, your customers will be able to reserve rooms online.

However, paying online is a different story, as the chart below illustrates:

Online
Reservation
Sell on
Facebook*
Stripe PayPal Braintree
Cloudbeds Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bookinglayer Yes No Yes Yes Yes
eZee Absolute Yes Yes No Yes No
Hotelogix Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Hoteliga Yes Yes No Yes Yes
SabeeApp Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Frontdesk Anywhere Yes Yes Yes Yes No
innRoad Yes No No No No

* Many hotel management systems allow you to place a booking engine widget directly on your Facebook page.

Booking Engine on Facebook Page

This way, Facebook users can make hotel reservations directly from your Facebook page.

This is especially handy if you’re just starting out and don’t have the resources to get your website set up right away. Your Facebook page can serve as your online storefront for the time being.

A simple and straightforward way to start getting direct clients!

Tip for a Hotelier: You can get reservations directly from your Facebook page! And payments too...Click To Tweet

Distribution Channels (Booking.com, Expedia, etc.)

Now you’re probably asking the obvious question:

Why do I need my own reservation system if I sell most of my rooms through Booking.com or Expedia anyway?

Booking.com Commission

As we’ve said before, there’s one huge advantage:

You don’t have to pay commissions for bookings.

Booking.com’s base commission is 15% (and it can go up!), comparable to sales tax in some countries.

By contrast, if you get payments directly through your website, you can expect card processing fees of only 2-3%.

Do I have to give up Booking.com and other hotel booking sites?

Of course NOT! Giving up your distribution channels is like shooting yourself in the foot.

But many potential customers will shop multiple sites to find the best hotel rates, and the savviest bargain hunters will always check your hotel’s website sooner or later.

Another thought:

How can I get customers to pay through my site if I can’t make my rates lower than on Booking.com?

Two words: added value.

  • Airport PickupOffer an extra bonus like free airport pickup.
    It doesn’t cost much – and it’s as simple as calling a taxi.
    Travelers who are all too familiar with jet lag after a long flight will leap at the promise of a ride to your hotel.
  • Pay for a hotel using PayPalUse popular payment options on your website.
    Many customers use PayPal all the time for fast, secure, simple payments.
    However, neither Booking.com nor Expedia accept it.
    Accepting PayPal can easily be the tipping point that gets customers to book directly through your website.
  • Do nothing.
    Many customers just don’t like dealing with middlemen, or have had bad experiences with booking sites in the past.
    They’ll buy directly from you purely on principle.

To sum up, it’s not a choice between two different options. You need to support both ways of letting customers book with you:

  • Through travel-booking sites (a.k.a. Online Travel Agencies or OTA) like Booking.com, Expedia, or Agoda (so potential customers can find you easily)
  • Through a reservation system on your own site (so you can avoid paying commission fees on bookings)

And one more question:

Say all my standard double rooms have just been sold through Booking.com. How can I avoid these rooms getting double-booked through my website? (Or vice versa?)

All the different hotel reservation systems do this for you out-of-the-box!

Their channel managers will automatically synchronize bookings across all sources (your site, Booking.com, Expedia, etc.) and keep room availability and rates up-to-date in real time.

Popular OTAs: Booking.com, Expedia, Agoda, AirBNB

They even let you reserve (or block) rooms manually. All the functionality you need is right at your fingertips!

Now, enough theory for now: let’s get down to details.

The following comparison table shows the available OTA integration options for each of the hotel systems we’re discussing here:

Booking.com Expedia.com Agoda.com AirBNB
Cloudbeds Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bookinglayer Yes* Yes* Yes* Yes*
eZee Absolute Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hotelogix Yes Yes Yes No
Hoteliga Yes Yes Yes No
SabeeApp Yes Yes Yes Yes
Frontdesk Anywhere Yes Yes Yes No
innRoad Yes Yes Yes No

* Bookinglayer uses MyAllocator as its channel manager. Why not?

Just in case you manage a HOTEL... Learn how to sell rooms on all popular travel-booking sites (Booking.com, Expedia etc) and your own website at the same time!Click To Tweet

Staff/Housekeeping Management

There is a question on Quora.com:

What are the top 5 problems that hotel managers have to face?

We’ve found the interesting answer given by Deborah Crawford who managed and worked in medium-sized hotels for years.

So here is what she placed on the top:

Labor-finding, training, scheduling and managing staff is an ongoing process. Controlling labor costs is very important and can be a daily struggle without a great team. It takes time and effort to build that team and keep it going.

Managing staff is an integral part of running a successful hotel.

While no amount of software can help you build and train a team, each of the systems we’re looking at has useful tools to help simplify housekeeping management.

Cloudbeds

Cloudbeds’ housekeeping system is simple and straightforward: just select the rooms you want cleaned and the housekeepers you want assigned to them.

As soon as cleaning is finished, the room status gets updated in the system.

A fire and forget solution if ever there was one!

Cloudbeds Housekeeping Module


Bookinglayer

Bookinglayer, on the other hand, has a more complicated staff management process – by necessity, as Bookinglayer is designed to allow travelers to book accommodations and activities simultaneously.

Surf camps, dive schools, yoga retreats, and other activity centers make use of Bookinglayer to manage not just guests but also instructors and other event-related staff.

As a result, Bookinglayer’s staff management tools are more complex than typical housekeeping modules.

Bookinglayer Staff Calendar


eZee Absolute

eZee Absolute offers a powerful platform for housekeeping management.

You can:

  • Manage housekeepers and assign them to rooms
  • Assign custom room statuses (e.g. “In Progress” or “Damaged” in addition to “Clean” and “Dirty”)
  • Manage units (e.g. assign staff to clean swimming pools, lobbies, etc.)
  • Manage remarks (e.g. automatically leave special instructions for housekeepers on guest checkout)

There is a nice demo explaining how it works:


Hotelogix

Hotelogix has a nice page listing several handy things you can do with their housekeeping system, including:

  • Print daily task lists for each member of your housekeeping team
  • Create special requests like “put flowers in the room”
  • Set rooms as “Do Not Reserve” to prevent guests from booking rooms under maintenance/renovation
  • Configure automatic room status updates (e.g. automatically setting a room to “Dirty” on guest checkout)

SabeeApp

SabeeApp’s housekeeping module has features comparable to the systems described above.

But it has one unique feature we’d like to draw your attention to:

Instead of having to print out daily task lists for each staff member, housekeepers can make use of SabeeApp’s mobile app for iPhone and Android.

SabeeApp Housekeeping Application

All they need to do is:

  1. Tap once to change the color of the room from red (dirty) to yellow (in progress).
  2. Tap again when cleaning is finished to change the color to green (cleaned).

That’s it! All the information is automatically displayed through the frontdesk.


Frontdesk Anywhere

Frontdesk Anywhere’s housekeeping system supports some powerful features.

First and foremost, you can set housekeeping rules which automate management tasks.

For example, if you have rooms cleaned on a daily basis (and I hope you do!), you don’t have to start each day setting each room to “Dirty” status by hand. You can just set a rule and it’ll happen automatically.

You can also set much more complicated rules which will run in whatever priority order you choose.

Frontdesk Anywhere Housekeeping Rules

You can also organize how housekeeping information is displayed!

You can sort by housekeepers, by room status, or even by floor. It’s easy to get whatever information you need QUICKLY.

You also have much finer-grained room statuses instead of just “Clean” and “Dirty”: e.g. “Dirty Vacant” for unoccupied rooms in need of cleaning, or “Dirty Departing” for rooms whose guests are just about to check out.

Frontdesk Anywhere Housekeeping Tab

Hotel Reservation Software Compared (Design, Booking Engines, Payment Options, Housekeeping Management, Customer Reviews)Click To Tweet

Unique Features

Before we proceed with the unique features, let’s talk about the basic functions.

What does a hotel reservation system consist of?

  • Booking Engine (to let customers make reservations on your site)
  • Frond Desk (for check-ins, check-outs and other daily work)
  • Calendar (to see the rooms’ occupation and manage it)
  • Housekeeping Module (to manage your staff)
  • Channel Manager (for integration with Booking.com and Expedia)
  • Reports (for so many things…)

We’ve touched on most of the basic features so far. However, some hotel reservation systems have unique features that set them apart from the rest.

Here are a few standouts:

Activity Reservation by Bookinglayer

This feature is extremely useful for activity centers such as surf camps and yoga retreats.

This feature allows guests to book not just accommodations but also the events they want to participate in, for example surf lessons.

They can also book airport pickup and avoid the trouble of getting a taxi on arrival.

Activity Reservation

This simple yet powerful interface lets guests select the dates they want to stay, their room, which activities they want to participate in, and when they want to participate in them.

In the screenshot above, you can see how these guests have booked airport pickup and three consecutive days of surfboard rental, all through Bookinglayer’s system.


Price Wizard by SabeeApp

SabeeApp’s Price Wizard allows you to quickly and easily update room prices.

Price Wizard

Say you want to set room prices for the winter season. You don’t have to set individual prices for individual days.

You can just select the entire period of time the rates will apply, select all the rooms you want to apply those rates to, and set the rate you want.

Want to set lower rates on weekends?

Just as easy: select only the weekends and update the base price with the new rate.

“But wait,” you say, “what if I want to set rates based on the number of guests checking into a room?

That’s where another tool of SabeeApp’s hotel management software comes into play: the Price Relation Model.

The Price Relation Model will automatically adjust prices based on occupancy according to the rules you set.

For example, you can add a flat fee per guest, or a percentage of the room’s base rate.

You’ll never have to manually set room rates for different numbers of guests!


Email Templates by Bookinglayer

Do you enjoy sending out dozens of emails by hand every day? Probably not.

Fortunately, Bookinglayer has a built-in tool that will automatically compose and send emails for you:

Email Templates

You can set rules and create templates to send out a wide variety of automated email messages, such as:

  • Booking confirmations
  • Deposit reminders
  • Travel advice (“Don’t forget sunscreen!”)
  • “Thank you” messages (“We hope you enjoyed your stay!”)

All of these will be sent out by the system with no effort on your part – other than adding your own personal touch to the email templates, of course!


OTA-in-a-box by Cloudbeds and eZee Absolute

OTA-in-a-box allows you to process bookings for all your properties from a single website – like the name implies, it’s like having your very own personal Booking.com or Expedia!

OTA-in-a-box

Not everybody needs this feature. But if you own or manage multiple hotels, this feature can save you time and money by putting all your properties under a single digital roof.

No need to manage separate websites for each property!

Find out more on Cloudbeds and eZee.

Are you HOTEL owner or manager? Does your hotel software have these UNIQUE features? Check it here..Click To Tweet

Customer Satisfaction

Now it’s make or break time.

Like with any other product or service, customer reviews can tell you things a simple feature comparison won’t.

Let’s look at how they stack up on this front:

At a glance, all of the hotel management systems we’ve looked at seem to be pretty well-liked!

But once we drill down into the actual content of these reviews, we start seeing the differences.

Cloudbeds Reviews

Cloudbeds (4.5 / 5 based on 44 reviews)

What do customers like?

The sleek, user-friendly interface is a common point of praise.

Nearly every review cites ease of use and a shallow learning curve for the system.

The built-in tools such as OTA integration, online booking, and reservation management have also earned Cloudbeds its share of positive feedback.

Cloudbeds is one of the easiest software out there. Forget about the hours of training, complicated setup… it’s intuitive, and mostly automatic.

Ettore Z., Source: Capterra

I love it because it manages my inventory really well. This is what i wanted. One stop shop for all my problems.

Avinash K., Source: Capterra

What do customers NOT like?

Most of the complaints are concerned with poor customer support.

While we’ve seen many reviews claiming a positive experience with their customer support, some reviews take issue with long wait times and a lack of phone support.

I pray for your soul if you ever have to deal with their customer support. I’ve never been through such a frustrating process for 12 weeks and still don’t have a mayor problem fixed.

Felix S., Source: Capterra


Bookinglayer Reviews

Bookinglayer (5 / 5 based on 38 reviews)

What do customers like?

The company and its staff get universally high praise.

One review describes Bookinglayer as a “family-like business with high-tier customer service.”

They even can customize their online hotel booking system to meet specific business needs.

Customers also like their time-saving email templates.

My product and packages are not the easiest to decipher, or formulate, but the team at Bookinglayer made it beautifully simple and massively effective. I highly recommend you invest in the set-up package they offer.

Sarah O., Source: Capterra

What do customers NOT like?

Customers seem to have very few complaints with the software.

In most cases, the “cons” field is either empty or just lists specific features they wish the software had.

There is not much to dislike about this software to be honest. You get so much for your money. Occasionally, you might encounter a bug here or there, but it will be resolved right away.

Gerrit K., Source: Capterra


eZee Absolute Reviews

eZee Absolute (4.5 / 5 based on 176 reviews)

What do customers like?

eZee gets high ratings across the board.

Like with Bookinglayer, their customer support is highly praised.

The live support system is very helpful, you get a response very quickly and all the information or questions that you have gets sorted out immediately or they explain to you what to do. The are always willing to help.

Zhivago S., Source: Capterra

The system itself also gets high ratings. Reviewers agree that the software is highly comprehensive, offering everything they need to manage their hotel businesses.

We use eZee products across all our 27 properties. We are impressed with the overall experience and specifically with clean UI, and the user-friendly PMS. It is so intuitive that a new joinee can learn the PMS in a day.

Deep B., Source: Capterra

What do customers NOT like?

Once again, reviews are almost universally positive.

Some reviews cite minor quibbles with the system, such as perceived sluggishness or old design. But most users claim they don’t have any major issues with this hotel management software.

The user interface could be worked upon a bit, bringing more intuitiveness to it. The last UI update was long ago.

Deep B., Source: Capterra


Hotelogix Reviews

Hotelogix (4.5 / 5 based on 115 reviews)

What do customers like?

Most of the praise is general. Some highlights such as the online support chat and night audit feature come up.

But overall most users describe it as an easy-to-use system that can be accessed from anywhere – not a particularly standout feature, as it applies to any reservation system we’ve reviewed here.

In fact, while the software has many positive reviews, there are a few EXTREMELY negative ones which are a bit concerning.

What do customers NOT like?

Issues with the dated interface aside, the most significant concern is bugs.

There is unlimited issues, before you take care of old issues, new issues arise all the time. Every time, you are working as fire fighters! Enough is enough! If we have to go manual on everything, it would not be as bad. LIVING NITMARE describes our experience with this program!!

Sherry X., Source: Capterra


Hoteliga Reviews

Hoteliga (5 / 5 based on 72 reviews)

What do customers like?

The team, the product, the price, and the lack of issues are all cited as reasons for its high score.

The hoteliga team has always been there, not just when I needed them, but also when I needed someone else. When there was a problem with a partner website advertising the property, the team was there to assist me with their knowledge of the industry.

Stavros T., Source: Capterra

A clean program, easy to use, that is always growing, meeting our expectations, and developing along with us! It is everything you may need in managing your reservations, creating reports, and keeping everything neat.

Yiannis T., Source: Capterra

The biggest attraction is the price but this doesn’t affect the functionality.

Eszter D., Source: Capterra

What do customers NOT like?

Once more, there are no significant issues noted in the reviews, but we’d like to raise a concern of our own regardless: guys, please update your design and get rid of those eye-searing red-green side-by-side colors.


Sabeeapp Reviews

SabeeApp (5 / 5 based on 17 reviews)

What do customers like?

While there aren’t many reviews for this hotel management system, two words sum most of them up: “great system!

Reviewers are happy with the calendar, reports, and channel manager functionality.

In particular, they appreciate the Price Wizard feature discussed earlier.

We like the calendar view the most, it gives us a great overlook of our bookings. It is very easy to create new bookings and change existing books by dragging and dropping. The tools on the calendar is our favourite feature.

Jessica S., Source: Capterra

…my favourite part is the Reports. You can check several financial and sales reports and daily or even yearly performance with comparison.

Andrea M., Source: Capterra

What do customers NOT like?

There are a few very minor complaints with the system, nothing that would affect business processes.

The housekeeping dots in the calendar view are not so logical for me (for example after check in they shouldn’t be in inspected status any more).

Andrea M., Source: Capterra

Translation into other languages (in my case Dutch) is sometimes missing or with mistakes (e.g. when printing the check-in form).

Lennard d., Source: Capterra

Very few cons, if any at all. There are a few minor tweaks to the core system that could be made to further improve it’s functionality and flexibility, but we have confidence that Sabee with get round to addressing these in time.

Steven C., Source: Capterra


Frontdesk Anywhere Reviews

Frontdesk Anywhere (4.5 / 5 based on 82 reviews)

What do customers like?

Reviews here are a bit more varied: like with the last two systems, the majority are 5/5, but there are some middling and even poor reviews here.

This said, the system still gets high marks overall, and reviewers are fond of its design, its ease of use, and its reputation management feature.

Recently, we are thrilled with reputation tab which allows us to track all online reviews and see our current rating. It’s great for us to quickly respond to reviews from OTAs and Tripadvisor, as well as to recover the hotel reputation through Frontdesk Anywhere software.

Rada A., Source: Capterra

The software has a very small learning curve, so you’ll have your team up and running in a breeze.

Hector S., Source: Capterra

What do customers NOT like?

Reports are the single most common issue, with reviewers complaining about errors and printing issues.

Customer support is another frequent subject of concern, though the exact nature of the complaints suggests deeper issues at play within the company.

Customer support is friendly, but is never able to resolve problems. They seem almost overwhelmed or annoyed, like they’ve heard the complaints several times before, but don’t have a solution.

Brian M., Source: Capterra


innRoad Reviews

innRoad (4.5 / 5 based on 156 reviews)

What do customers like?

Virtually all the reviews make note of their excellent customer service.

I cannot remember another system I have used that maintains this level of customer service. The amount of time saved with each question outweighs any concern regarding price. If you value your time – this system is A+.

DeShawne B., Source: Capterra

Reviewers do cite a learning curve, exacerbated by the outdated training material, but they also appreciate the functionality and usability once that hurdle is overcome.

What do customers NOT like?

Many reviews for innRoad take issue with bugs and overall sluggishness, as well as the system’s steep price point.

Sometimes it can be slow and that circle just spins. Or when it says you need to sign in again, even though you are already signed in.

Patty L., Source: Capterra

Hotel Reservation Systems Compared (Customer Reviews, UX & Design, Payment Options, Housekeeping Module)Click To Tweet

Hotel Reservation Systems Awards

Conclusion

As we said at the very start, this review covers our shortlist of the best hotel reservation systems out there.

With that said, our comparison definitely highlights some as standing out head and shoulders above their competition.

We’ve divided them into three categories:

Rating A+

  • Bookinglayer
    Excellent team; customizable product; unique features
  • SabeeApp
    Great design; stylish housekeeping app; outstanding calendar and reports

Rating A

  • Cloudbeds
    Big company; modern design; easy to learn; full-featured product
  • eZee Absolute
    Big family of hotel software, all industry-covered; dated backend UI
  • Frontdesk Anywhere
    Clean design; useful housekeeping rules; problematic customer support
  • Hoteliga
    Highly positive customer reviews; low price; ugly design

Rating B+

  • innRoad
    Modern design; no integration with major payment systems
  • Hotelogix
    Frequent glitches; dated UI

All are winners in their own right, and even ones with issues have plenty of opportunity to improve!

Thank you for reading! Be sure to comment below!

Many thanks to Robinson Taylor for the article editing!


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