How to Avoid Overbooking Your Tours & Activities

18 Nov 2014     |    Taz Bareham

Overbooking is a pain in the neck for tour and activity operators. Not only do your customers doubt the reliability of your systems, but you lose time (and possibly revenue) trying to rectify the situation.

Usually it will come from a lack of technology in place to manage booking inventory. There really is no way around it – to effectively avoid overbooking, you have to do away with manual inventory management.

Overbooking from bad channel management


Manually managing your inventory across all the sales channels you use is time consuming. There’s a lot of double data entry and throughout the day you will have to keep updating your inventory across them all.

The risk of overbooking is constant. The third party sites will give you a login, and you have to log into each one every time a booking is made to update inventory.

Many tour operators tackle this with allocation (where you allocate part of your inventory to each particular channel) but you might lose out on sales if you guess wrongly (ie. only 8 out of 10 get booked, meanwhile you turned away 2 people from your website).


The only way to manage your channels effectively is through a distribution channel manager that connects to your online booking system. It doesn’t mean that you have to look for 2 separate products – some software vendors like Rezdy provide it in the one system.

This means that all those connected channels (be it a VIC or an OTA) that resell tours and activities now have access to your live inventory, with your booking system instantly updating inventory across all of them for you.

For smaller operators there’s an option to use a pooled inventory model, so that all of your inventory is available to all of your channels – ie. first come, first serve. The result is that you are never overbooked. You have some spare time from the reduced admin work, and you can rest easy knowing you’re making the most money as possible.

In choosing a booking system, check which sites integrate with them. If you’re already partnering with some of them, then it would be a good investment. If your channels are not on their list, ask them if they can be integrated later on.

If they have a bunch of channels that you’re not yet working with, then there’s an opportunity to expand your reach through establishing more partnerships without any fear of overbooking.

Overbooking from bad resource management


Your inventory is resource-dependent when the tour or activity depends on the availability of a resource, like a guide, boat, or bike.

Resource dependent inventory can always lead to overbooking when done manually. For example, two separate tours can be booked even though they need the same boat to run, so you have to cancel one and try to shuffle around customers.

Customers see you as being unreliable and they may not be available for another time. In the end, you lose revenue and make a bad impression.


Modern tour booking software will provide a resource management tool so that you don’t have to worry about whether or not the resource is available.

For example, one of our customers had this to say about our resource-dependant calendar:

“The Rezdy system (recommended by another tour operator) is much more suited to my tour company than the previous system I was using. I have multiple tour options all travelling on one bus. The system automatically adjusts the availability for all the options as people book, so I’m never overbooked and I don’t have to adjust availability myself manually. That’s the best feature for me, but overall, once I got the hang of the back end, I find it has many useful features and is user-friendly. And it looks good on my site, which is important. Plus there’s good support from the company.”

— Mac McCrostie, The Little Penguin Bus

Avoid overbooking with Rezdy’s online booking software

We can help you avoid overbooking your tours and activities. If you are interested in learning more about Rezdy,  request a demo or ask us some questions. Or if you want to jump right into it, take a free trial by clicking the button below: