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The majority of people plan and book their holidays online. To ensure visitors stay the night at your accommodation business, it thus needs to be both discoverable and bookable.

When you want to increase your bookings, it's important to improve being discoverable and bookable in tandem.

After all, there’s not much sense in allowing customers to book online if they don’t know you exist. It also doesn’t work to attract large numbers of customers online if they can’t book online.

1. How can I be discoverable and bookable online?

What do we mean by discoverable?

A website is discoverable if it's designed to be easily found by users via a search engine, within an application, or on another website.

It’s all about how easy it is for a user to find your business online. Whether that’s when they’re searching generally, for example "hostels in Edinburgh", or specifically for the name of your business.

What do we mean by bookable?

Bookable means that there should be no need to contact the accommodation provider to confirm the booking.

You're bookable if a customer can book your accommodation online before they arrive, be it a room, a camping pitch, or a self-catering cottage.

Top tips for being discoverable and bookable

  • Let people book far in advance

    Get your pricing and availability updated as far ahead as possible. The further people travel, the further in advance they book. Consider at least one year’s availability.

  • Have a clear booking button

    Make your booking button on your website has a clear call-to-action to book. Ideally, it should be as visible as possible on every webpage at all stages of a customer’s journey.

  • Upsell opportunities

    Build in upselling opportunities in your shopping cart. Before they complete their purchase, let your customers add on breakfast, a bottle of champagne, or any other extras you might offer.

    Do try to keep the primary booking experience as simple as possible though.

  • Understand the user journey

    Go through the user journey yourself regularly and check for barriers or breakages. This helps you keep on top of your functionality and avoid bad experiences for potential customers.

  • Make use of analytics

    Set up e-commerce analytics and goals. This allows you to see which target audience is driving the most revenue and which areas of investment give you the best return.

  • Stay competitive

    Direct booking is the most profitable form overall. But to stay competitive, you might also need to list your property on other booking websites. This is why sites such as TripAdvisor, Expedia and can be so important.

    Look into what your competitors are doing on those sites and emulate them.

2. The stages of being bookable

Let’s look now at what technology you can put in place to be both discoverable and bookable. You may be using certain tools already, and some will give you access to certain features but not all.

Stage 1 (website)

You have a dedicated website with content about your business (in addition to a social media presence).


Business benefits:

Customers can:

  • read about your business

Stage 2 (add a web booking engine)

You have a business website with a web booking engine.

Examples include Eviivo, Freetobook, Supercontrol, Beds24, Queensborough Group and SiteMinder.

Some web booking engines are integrated with This enables your business to display:

  • live availability

  • real-time pricing

  • a "book now" button on your free listing and in live availability search results on the site

Read about web booking engines integrated with VisitScotland


Business benefits:

Customers can:

  • read about your business

  • check availability of your accommodation on the dates they want

  • book your accommodation

  • pay for their stay


You can do this by using a web booking engine that:

  • will display live availability

  • accept online bookings through your website

Stage 3 (sell your accommodation on Online Travel Agent (OTA) websites)

You have a business website with a web booking engine, and a separate listing with an online travel agent. Examples include, Expedia,, Airbnb and HomeAway.

Are you not using a channel manager? (explained in stage 4) Then you'd need to update your availability and price on your own website and for each online travel agent's site you have a listing on.


If you don't make use of an online travel agent

You may be able to use your own web booking engine to display your prices directly alongside the agent's prices.

If you make use of an online travel agent

Metasearch sites will usually pull your availability and pricing info directly from the agent.

As such, your accommodation will gain greater exposure online. Potential customers will also have more chance of finding you.


Business benefits:

Customers can:

  • read about your business

  • check availability of your accommodation on the dates they want

  • book your accommodation

  • pay for their stay

  • also check availability, book and pay on the online travel agent's website


The benefit of working with an online travel agent is that you will be discoverable and bookable on both the agent's and metasearch sites.

A metasearch site is a comparison site. Think of Google Hotels, Kayak, Trivago, TripAdvisor, and Skyscanner.

It lets customers compare prices for your accommodation across different websites. This includes the online travel agent's websites and (sometimes) your own website.

Stage 4 (add a channel manager)

You have a website and a web booking engine with channel manager functionality.

This allows you to distribute availability and pricing to online travel agencies and metasearch sites. In other words, whenever you update the availability and pricing on your own website, it pulls through everywhere at once.

The alternative would be updating information on multiple different platforms with different logins.

There can be costs associated with using channel managers. They may charge you with a fee or commission via your web booking engine. But it could be worth that investment if:

  • it makes your accommodation business more visible

  • saves you time

  • reduces the chances of double bookings


Business benefits:

Customers can:

  • read about your business

  • check availability of your service on the dates they want

  • book your service

  • pay for your service

  • find your business on travel sites

  • find your business on metasearch sites

And you can more easily distribute your inventory and rates across multiple sites.

3. How do I choose a web booking engine?

Check which online booking system best meets your business requirements.

We don’t endorse or recommend any system over another. The following list represents only a small fraction of booking systems available. The ones included have Scottish clients or account managers working in Scotland.

4. What should I consider when choosing a channel manager?

It’s best to do a bit of research to work out which channel manager functionality is right for your business. This is because they can increase the volume of bookings to your business, but charge a commission to do so.

  • Functionality

    Discover which functionalities each system provides and whether they line up with your business needs.

  • Partnerships

    Check what online travel agent partnerships are in place. The three most common ones are, Expedia, and Airbnb.

    For some businesses, other smaller agencies may be more suitable if your target audience might use them more regularly.

  • Training

    Check what training and support is available for set up and maintenance.

  • Budget

    Before coming to a decision, please consider the price of each web booking engine. Some systems will have a basic license, but might also charge a commission or additional features with added costs.

    Some systems will have a basic license, a commission, or additional features with added costs.

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