Are you deciding whether free or open source are the right choice for your property? Whether you’re implementing new software or replacing your current hotel management software solution, it can take weeks of research to choose the right one for your hotel operation.
That’s where we come in to save you time.
By the end of this article, you’ll know what the pros and cons of free and open source hotel management software are as well as insight into some of the most popular options available for hotel managers.
There are some important distinctions between free and open source software that make one or the other better for different companies.
The lowdown: Free hotel management software companies usually earn their revenue by taking small percentages of each sale or booking completed using their software.
The target customer: Small hotels and vacation rental companies.
Pros: No upfront costs.
Cons: Free hotel management system versions often exclude important features that are useful for growing a property. In addition, most of these systems cap the number of users, and there can be integration limitations.
If you’ve decided on a free system, it’s just a matter of evaluating your options. To help you do this, we’ve profiled some of the most popular free hotel management software solutions out there.
The lowdown: Open source hotel management software is like a blueprint that lets you build your own solution. You can download the software source code and customize a solution to your exact specifications.
Depending on the hotel management software system, you may have to get a licensing agreement from the original creator. While the source code is often free or low-cost, you may end up having to hire software developers or consultants to help with the design, implementation, and training.
The target customer: Hotels with access to tech-savvy staff, contractors, or consultants.
Pros: The open source community is widely known to be a collaborative group that constantly works on improving the software and sharing their results so that you can benefit from their additions.
Cons: The technical know-how required to set up and maintain these systems can be intimidating for the average hotel.
Don’t worry though. We break down the pros and cons of each of the open source and free online hotel software solutions so you can decide which is right for you and get back to focusing on your customers. Let’s dive in.
Type of software: Open source
For vacation rentals
Point of sale (POS)
HotelDruid is an open source property management solution developed by DigitalDruid.Net for the hospitality industry. If you are a small or midsize property management company or owner managing vacation houses, apartments, hotels and hostels, then HotelDruid might be a solution worth considering.
HotelDruid’s scheduling dashboard (Source)
You can customize HotelDruid according to property type. Additionally, you can define assignment rules for vacant rooms and then automate room assignments based on customer inquiries. The solution also allows users to add special offers, restrictions, and different pricing tiers to the booking system. HotelDruid allows you to group direct bookings, configure room number and details, backup your system, and operate in multiple languages.
You can generate and manage configurable receipts, invoices, emails, forms, and more. Role-based access allows you to set up separate profiles for different user bands.
Potential challenges you might encounter are that the number of options can be overwhelming, the user interface can be challenging, and it requires either you or a member of your team to be tech savvy to use and install.
Type of software: Free
Billing and invoicing
Direct booking management
Credit card processing
Online booking integration
Reporting and statistics
KWHotel is a hotel management system designed for small and midsize hotel operators in the hospitality industry. The free package is limited in scope and can only be used by one workstation, but it offers the basic functionality required to be considered for this list.
KWHotel’s scheduling dashboard (Source)
Luckily, if you find yourself liking the free version, the paid version has many advanced features. Full capabilities span multi-module features within a single environment boasting a highly visual, calendar-based overview of reservations. For instance, advanced features such as group reservations, meal management, multi-computer usage, and a customizable calendar are only available in paid version
However, the free version comes with a color coded reservation schedule, guest experience management, free automatic software updates, and support via phone, email, or TeamViewer.
With the calendar, you can quickly access room booking details, manage customer contact information, and view comprehensive reservation histories.
Additionally, your guests can be rapidly checked in or out while acknowledging any associated billing, while a flexible meals management module links to specific dietary requirements of individual guests and supports broader menu provisions, planning, or pricing.
Type of software: Free
Reporting and statistics
NOBEDS is a free hotel and hostel property management system for small to midsize businesses in the hospitality industry that can be synchronized with multiple booking systems to handle customer reservations. You can also track staff activity through detailed reporting.
NOBEDS’ dashboard (Source)
The system's calendar feature allows both staff and potential customers to view availability/vacancies and create reservations. You’ll also benefit from booking confirmations which are automatically distributed via email or SMS that can be customized to share a personalized message, provide directions to a specific property, or contain a custom signature.
The system also comes with a dashboard that creates alerts and notifications for direct bookings, which are automatically added to the calendar.
NOBEDS property software comes with task management features that allow users to add specific room tasks in addition to general housekeeping. The system allows hotel staff to check off their daily work tasks, which provides managers with a way to oversee workflow and track time spent on each room.
In addition, NOBEDS generates booking reports to provide insight on the popularity of rooms, average length of stay, and the frequency of use with third-party booking sites.
Developer support is available, but it is not 24/7 and only available during business hours.
Type of software: Open source
Room booking management
QloApps is an open source hotel booking and management software solution for the hospitality industry which allows you to take and manage both on-desk and online hotel booking.
QloApps installation assistant (Source)
With QloApps, you’ll be able to make your hotel booking website, manage offline booking, and manage as many rooms or properties as you have. Additionally, because it’s open source, you have complete control over payment options as well as the way your website and booking service looks. As such, you’ll be able to manage package rates through the software.
You’ll also have complete control over the features you will most need and use. They offer available support and have a community of other users who can offer guidance.
QloApps also offers data analytic tools to help you dig into useful customer data to better scale and grow your hospitality business.
As with other open source options, it can be hard to set up and maintain unless you or someone on staff knows what they’re doing. QloApps also doesn’t offer password encryption and is only deployable on the web, so you lose some mobile support.
In order to select the free and open-source hotel management software products listed here, we searched for systems that did two things:
Offered a free, stand-alone version of the software that was not a trial version that required purchase after a limited amount of time, and
Met our hotel management software market definition:
Hotel management software comprises digital tools that hotel owners and managers can use to manage the operational and financial functions of their hotels. It helps them streamline everyday tasks such as reserving rooms, scheduling housekeeping routines, and processing check-ins and check-outs. Hotel management software is also used by motels, resorts, bed-and-breakfasts, and other forms of lodging with quick turnover.
We selected the most popular products by choosing the highest-ranked in Google search results during the week of November 9, 2020.