On online travel agencies (OTAs) such as booking.com, the term "booking" can refer to multiple rooms. On property management systems (PMSs) such as Opera, the term "reservation" usually refers to a single room, while "group reservation" is used to refer to multiple rooms.

Do the terms "booking" and "reservation" mean different things in the hotel industry?

1 Answer 1


Technically I haven't ever worked for a hotel, but I have worked for over 20 years for half a dozen hostels and one motel.

In natively English speaking countries at least in the accommodation industry, "booking" and "reservation" are 100% synonymous. I wouldn't even say there are any differing nuances or even that one is more formal than the other.

You ask the place to "reserve" a table/room/etc for you and we do that by putting it in a "book". These days the book is usually a computer.

Actually I do have one caveat. Non-native English speakers have begun to refer to the app/website Booking.com as just "Booking", which often confused me as I would think they were talking about their reservation rather than which app they used to make it.

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    In German booking (Buchen) and reservation (reservieren) are lightly different. Booking is binding and must be canceled, whereas reservation are not. For hotels, a reservation is considered to be a booking, since the hotel is entitled to compensation for any damage due to a noshow. BGH, 24.11.1976 - VIII ZR 21/75 - dejure.org and What is the difference in the usage between "reservieren" and "buchen"? - German Language Stack Exchange Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 8:48
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    @MarkJohnson That's really interesting and I think makes this question a better one than I first thought since very many people will be using non-native English in their travels. Also if this difference does technically exist in English in the law or such I'd very much like to know, but I've never heard of it. Anyway I'm now going to vote the question up. Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 8:56
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    In my experience (as a reasonably well educated American with zero hotel experience), I'd say that the only difference is that "booking" seems to be a more British use, while "reservation" is a more American use. That doesn't imply that there is zero crossover, but just a tendency.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 17:03

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