By Blake Ng — 22 Feb 2021
If you’re an operator with tours or activities on offer, you’ll know just how important it is to nail the booking process. Not only do your customers need to be able to find you in the right places, they also need the right information and the right system so they can book however – and whenever – they want to. While changing technology and customer expectations were already changing bookings pre-pandemic, the presence of a global virus has undoubtedly sped up the rate of change.
So what’s changing in 2021 when it comes to the booking process?
In an era where lockdowns and restrictions can change overnight, flexibility and clarity around booking policies are more essential than ever. According to Booking.com’s global research report on the Future of Travel, 74% of respondents want greater transparency about cancellation policies, refund processes and trip insurance options when it comes to using travel booking platforms. 36% want the flexibility to cancel without being charged. While a deposit-free refund policy may not be realistic for many operators, making your policies clear on your tour operator reservation system is a really simple update to make.
It’s no secret that we’re all looking locally for fun right now! In Booking.com’s research, 50% of respondents said they wanted to travel somewhere they’d already been in the past, while 43% planned to explore a new destination within their home region or country. This provides the incentive to both remarket to past guests with Rezdy automated guest communication, and to attract new bookings from fresh audiences via Rezdy Marketplace.
Research from McKinsey and Skift shows that the average booking window has shrunk since the start of the pandemic, with more people booking closer to the date. This is probably due to several factors; one being that people are wary of having their plans cancelled if they book too far ahead, and a second being that people tend to book with shorter windows for local travel. 53% of travellers in the Booking.com report said they want to be able to make last-minute reservations, which is simple with Rezdy’s tour operator booking software.
Hygiene and safety will be important factors for some time to come, and 70% of Booking.com’s survey respondents said they expected tourist attractions to adapt to allow for social distancing. A contactless booking platform using tour scheduling software is the first place to begin, so people can book from their own device and home. If you haven’t done so already, it’s also worth updating your tour or activity listings to include your business’s COVID-safe measures so people can know exactly what to expect on the day.
Many people have been financially affected by the pandemic, and while uncertainty is in the air there are plenty of travellers looking for value. The research is showing that people are more price-conscious and are more likely to hunt out promotions and savings when it comes to travel, than in previous times. As it’s been a tough time for lots of operators it may not be the right time to offer massive discounts, but promotions such as refer-a-friend campaigns and loyalty rewards can be really helpful to boost those bookings and restore confidence for customers.
If you’re ready to make booking easier for both yourself and your guests, why not try Rezdy travel and tourism software free for 21 days?