Central Reservation System for Hotels: CRS Functionality and Software Explained

Everything changes over time, including hotel booking

So, what is a hotel CRS?

PMS, CRS, channel manager, and booking engine — differences and integration

The PMS, CRS, and channel manager interrelation

Hotel search and booking process steps

Hotel booking process
  1. Searching for the options. Nowadays there is a multitude of search engines and platforms to find accommodations. Companies and travel agencies often use a GDS, and individuals mostly browse through metasearch websites and big OTAs. To have all these sources present your hotel’s information to potential customers, you have to integrate with them first and then distribute your ARI through a channel manager. We will discuss the integration options in more detail further on. So, when somebody is looking for accommodations, they have to fill in the dates and room type on the website or terminal to check availability and send the inquiry.
  2. Receiving an availability inquiry. The channel manager delivers these inquiries to your CRS to get the availability information.
  3. Checking availability and sending response. At this stage, it’s necessary to verify in the system if the requested room type is available on indicated dates and get back with the result. The two-way integration through a channel manager allows this to be done in a flash, pulling the data from the CRS and shooting it back to the booker.
  4. Receiving a reservation request. If the booker is satisfied with the rate and decides to stay at your hotel, the reservation request is created with the help of the booking engine (either the booking engine on your side or the OTA’s, depending on the channel) and sent to the CRS. It contains all the essential information about the number of guests, arrival and departure dates, room type, contact details, special requests, etc.
  5. Confirming and blocking. In case the requested room is still available, it has to be blocked to prevent double-booking. At the same time, a reservation record is created in the CRS that contains all the information related to this booking. An email notification is then generated and sent to the booker to confirm the reservation. Also, it usually contains payment details and cancellation policy.
  6. Receiving payment. This step is optional as many guests still prefer to pay on arrival. Many OTAs do not require paying in advance, but having a secure payment tool included in your booking engine is a big advantage, as it gives travelers the opportunity to pay in a convenient way and save time during check-in.
  7. Transferring information to other departments. The reservation record shares all the reservation details with other PMS modules. For example, the housekeeping staff has to be informed about all the expected arrivals in order to appropriately prepare all the reserved rooms; the front desk should have all the information to ensure a smooth guest check-in; the reporting module uses this data to create reports, and so on.
  8. Optional reservation modifications. Prior to arrival, the booking details might be adjusted. A guest might want to change arrival or departure dates, type of room or desired amenities, number of visitors, etc. If that happens, changes have to be confirmed by the hotel, registered in the reservation record, and shared with other modules.
  9. Cancellations. Sometimes reservations are cancelled. In this case, the room has to be unblocked to allow for further booking, and, if prepayment took place, a refund has to be issued (if envisaged by the hotel’s policy). As soon as availability changes in the CRS, the channel manager shares this information across different channels.

CRS functionality

CRS functionality

Key reservation features of the CRS

KWHotel’s scheduling dashboard

Additional features that come integrated with CRS

Sometimes guests’ special requests are.. very special
Hotel mobile app features

Additional features that overlap with other systems in a PMS

Customer service is not an easy thing
Hotel search statistics

GDS for corporate travel

OTAs as the main distribution channel

Metasearch as the biggest search starter

Wholesalers to contract allotments

Social media to reach customers where they spend most of their time

A good booking engine would let you accept reservations right from the Facebook page

Booking engine on the hotel’s website for direct bookings

Hotel reservation software providers overview

SynXis dashboard
eZee stay overview dashboard

Final recommendations

  • functionality to cover all the reservation-related processes in your hotel and customization options,
  • scalability for future growth and development,
  • integrations provided — both with other software and various distribution channels,
  • time necessary to implement the software and train staff,
  • price, including possible customizations, and
  • customer service of the solution provider.



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AltexSoft Inc

AltexSoft Inc


Being a Technology & Solution Consulting company, AltexSoft co-builds technology products to help companies accelerate growth.