Hotels often opt to purchase licensed software to handle their booking system requirements. Although a viable option, purchasing a software license does not represent the only option for your hotel. You can also use open source products to implement a functional, effective hotel booking system. Open source software is often free or significantly cheaper than licensed alternatives, and you can employ a programmer to adjust it for your needs, making it ideal for small or bootstrapped hotels working on a limited budget.
Preliminary Setup: Domain and Hosting
Although some open source booking systems, such as Hotelier, function as stand-alone programs, the vast majority of booking systems require you to provide a domain name, hosting services and content management system to function. You purchase a domain name through a domain name registrar. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers maintains a list of accredited registrars you can use to select a registrar. Numerous hosting services provide reliable service, but if you expect high traffic to your site, invest in a hosting service that offers unlimited bandwidth.
Content Management System
If you do not select a stand-alone program, you should expect to install a content management system as a base for the booking system. Wordpress and Joomla offer two common open source choices for a content management system. A key advantage of using Wordpress or Joomla is that many hosting services provide a function to install either of the content management systems with a single click. This minimizes the technical assistance needed by do-it-yourself hotel owners.
Open Source Booking Solutions
Open source booking solutions come in three versions -- free, paid and "freemium," which means it's free for most functions but advanced features cost more. For those working with a strict budget, Jomres offers a highly functional choice. Jomres operates as a freemium product. You can install the Jomres Core and use its key functions for free in either the Wordpress or Joomla content management system. If you want access to additional, non-core functions, you can choose a paid membership option. Additionally, the Wordpress Plugin Directory and Joomla Extension Directory offer a variety of other booking options.
Installation and Settings
Wordpress and Joomla offer direct access to their plug-in and extension directories from the administrator panel. You can search for the hotel booking system of your choice, such as Jomres, or conduct a broad search for hotel booking systems. Once you select the plug-in or extension, an option to install in Wordpress or upload and install in Joomla provide the fastest methods. Once you install the booking system, you can adjust the settings, such as room number and pricing, to reflect the specific details of your hotel.