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Hotel CRS: What it is and how it helps the bottom line


By Cloudbeds

The number of booking channels lodging businesses must manage has expanded exponentially, from their website to online travel agencies, bed banks, GDS’, and metasearch engines.

The most effective distribution strategies in the hospitality industry are dynamic. From managing hundreds of rate plans across multiple channels to crafting highly segmented and tailored marketing campaigns, hoteliers need the right tools to execute their strategies effectively. 

That’s where a central reservation system or CRS comes into play. In this article, we explore what a CRS is for hotels, how it works, and five leading CRS solutions. 

What is a hotel CRS?

A hotel central reservation system is a core software platform that manages all reservations for a hotel and provides a centralized repository of the inventory of rooms on sale and their characteristics (e.g., room types, maximum occupancy, stay restrictions, etc.), their current availability, and their rates (or ARI for short). 

In a hotel’s technology ecosystem, the CRS sits between the PMS (property management system)—which helps staff manage all back-office and front-desk operations—and distribution channels such as OTAs (online travel agencies), GDS (Global Distribution System), metasearch engines, bed banks, and the hotel’s website and booking engine for direct reservations.

The main function of a CRS is to act as a hub for all distribution activities, including making available rooms visible across distribution channels, allowing travelers and travel agents to make reservations, and collecting booking data. Unlike a channel manager, a CRS can service search requests and create new reservations in real time. 


How a CRS works 

As the hub of distribution, a CRS plays a critical role in creating strategic rate plans and promotions across channels. Using data from various systems, including your PMS, revenue management system (RMS), and customer relationship management (CRM) system, hotels can strategically leverage data to implement dynamic pricing strategies and personalized, segmented, and tailored campaigns via their CRS.

No matter how a room is booked, the reservation request is sent to the hotel CRS where it is either confirmed or denied based on room availability. If confirmed, the room is blocked for those dates, and the ARI is updated. 

From there, the CRS will sync in real-time with: 

All other distribution channels. During the booked period, the hotel room won’t appear available to any traveler or travel agent on any reservation channel, preventing double bookings. If at some point the reservation gets canceled, the process is undone, and the room will appear available again. 

The property management system. Reservation details are sent to the PMS to allow housekeeping staff to prepare rooms for guest arrival and front-desk staff to organize check-ins and send pre-stay communications. For reservations made over the phone or directly at the front desk by walk-in guests, data will flow in the opposite direction, from the PMS to the CRS and to the rest of the distribution channels. 

The revenue management system (RMS). The RMS will pull reservation data from the CRS to update occupancy and optimize room rates based on the hotel’s dynamic pricing strategy. For example, the higher occupancy during those two weeks might trigger rate increases for the remaining room inventory. Once the RMS updates the rates in the CRS, the new pricing is distributed to the rest of the reservation channels. 

The customer relationship management system (CRM). Reservation data from the CRS can be very useful to sales and marketing teams, to easily identify returning guests (and the high-value ones among them), personalize offers, and know more about booking and spending patterns and preferences. 

The property’s payment system. If the traveler chooses to pay at the time of booking (or if they’re required to do so), the booking site will collect payment data and send it to the CRS, which will update the payment system. Conversely, if the guest pays at check-out, the update will flow in the opposite direction, from the payment system to the CRS, finalizing check-out.



5 benefits of a CRS

In summary, a CRS does five important things: 

  1. Services search requests and creates reservations in real-time
  2. Supports the development of complex rate plans
  3. Offers advanced segmentation features 
  4. Conducts tailored and personalized marketing campaigns
  5. Increases visibility and exposure across online distribution channels

This brings important benefits to hoteliers: 

Increased revenue. A CRS makes the best of a hotel distribution strategy. As soon as rooms become available, they are visible and bookable by travelers and travel agents on all distribution channels. Thanks to the RMS integration, it’s possible to adjust rates, share promotions, and apply last-minute discounts seamlessly, increasing RevPAR (Revenue Per Available Room) and ensuring rate parity. 

Lower costs. Automation of the booking process increases efficiency, which in turn saves time and prevents extra costs caused by admin errors and data loss. For example, the integration of the CRS with the PMS will prevent overbookings, help housekeeping staff know exactly which rooms need to be cleaned and by when, and help the F&B team know how much food to prepare for breakfast each day, leading to increased profitability.

Better guest experience. The other advantage of better efficiency is that it directly improves the guest experience, firstly with the basics, such as preventing double bookings and having rooms ready for guests as they arrive. However having up-to-date reservation data will also help to provide a personalized treatment that guests will love.


What types of properties need a CRS?

A hotel CRS doesn’t have to be a standalone application. In fact, some cloud-based PMS solutions will include a channel manager, a booking engine, and reservation management capabilities. For smaller properties (e.g. boutique hotels) that want to maximize their exposure to travelers, but have a limited number of rooms, a unified solution may just fit the bill. 

However, a dedicated CRS is needed for properties with a large number of rooms and complex operations. Such hotels would be: 

Larger properties. Hotels with 100+ rooms and more complex distribution strategies must manage considerable reservation data.

Properties with highly specialized teams. Larger establishments tend to divide operations into specialized teams (front desk, housekeeping, F&B, finance, sales & marketing, etc.), with each of them using a dedicated software application. In this scenario, a standalone CRS will be able to better integrate with these applications and provide them with the connectivity and data they need. 


6 leading hotel CRS systems 

Here are six of the leading CRS systems in the hospitality industry:

Amadeus iHotelier. Amadeus is one of the three largest GDS players in the world. Its portfolio of products includes a CRS that comes with revenue management functions and supports multiple languages and currencies.

Busy Rooms. The Busy Rooms CRS offers an adaptable, brandable, and scalable cloud-based CRS designed to be the control center for daily sales, marketing, operational, and revenue management activities

D-EDGE. D-EDGE Hospitality Solutions is a European company created from the merger of Availpro and Fastbooking. Their cloud-based CRS is an all-in-one solution that can also integrate with other applications.

Pegasus. Cendyn’s solution is a cloud-based CRS that fully integrates with other PMSs and Revenue Management Systems, although it has built-in dynamic pricing functionalities. It also comes with a booking engine and e-commerce platform. It’s targeted at hotel chains, casino hotels, hotel management companies, and boutique hotels. 

Sabre SynXis. This CRS is part of Sabre’s portfolio, the other main GDS player. It’s best suited to mid-to-large international brands with more complex operations. It supports multiple languages and payment options. 

SHR Allora CRS. Formerly known as Windsurfer, and developed by Texas-based SHR, it was renamed Allora after SHR acquired Irish hotel tech provider Avvio. Allora CRS is AI-based and is part of a suite of products that includes RMS, hotel booking engine, a loyalty program functionality, and a CRM among others. It’s targeted at independent hotels, resorts, and global hotel chains. 


Visit the Cloudbeds Marketplace to learn more about our CRS partners.


Representation Companies

Not to be overlooked as part of a hotel’s distribution strategy are representation companies. This refers to firms with extensive networks and relationships across the travel industry that help lodging businesses expand their reach across distribution channels to attract more high-value, targeted customers. 

Representation companies use the CRS infrastructure but go a step further, providing a human-led approach to helping hotels build strategic relationships with potential guests, travel agents, OTAs, tour operators, and more.

Top representation companies with expertise in the GDS include: 

HotelREZ. HotelREZ Hotels & Resorts is one of the world’s largest, yet tailored, companies dedicated to marketing and connecting independent hoteliers with bookers around the world.

Hotelnet. Hotelnet offers hotels a full range of solutions for hotels, including an analysis and consulting process designed to help lodging businesses expand the boundaries of their business.


Integrating your CRS

Cloudbeds’ PMS is a unified platform that gives lodging businesses of all sizes the flexibility to create a seamless, automated tech stack. The platform’s modules include a channel manager, which allows operators to choose from hundreds of channels with zero added commissions. 

For those wanting to use a dedicated CRS, we offer seamless integration with leading providers through our APIs that use a defined set of protocols, tools, and standards. This allows hoteliers to move away from the traditional hub-and-spoke model—where different applications co-exist but don’t communicate with one another, creating data silos and complex patchwork of systems—to an integrated platform of tools working together, even when they’re not all from one single provider.


Streamline operations with a CRS 

A CRS seamlessly connects various aspects of operations, from reservation management to revenue optimization and guest experience enhancement. By providing a centralized repository of inventory and automating booking processes while syncing in real-time with other essential software tools, CRS solutions significantly contribute to increased revenue, lowered operational costs, and improved guest satisfaction.


Discover how Cloudbeds can help you drive more reservations.
Published on 02 April, 2024
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About Cloudbeds


Cloudbeds is the leading platform redefining the concept of PMS for the hospitality industry, serving tens of thousands of properties in more than 150 countries worldwide. Built from the ground up to be masterfully unified and scalable, the award-winning Cloudbeds Platform brings together built-in and integrated solutions that modernize hotel operations, distribution, guest experience, and data & analytics.

Founded in 2012, Cloudbeds has been named a top PMS, Hotel Management System and Channel Manager (2021-2024) by Hotel Tech Report, World’s Best Hotel PMS Solutions Provider (2022) by World Travel Awards, and recognized in Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 in 2023. 

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