We get it – choosing a new tour booking platform is no easy feat! While it’s relatively simple to compare the basic features and integrations of each option, there are several critical factors that can be as important as any main feature but may not be so readily discussed. Unfortunately, it’s often after an operator chooses a platform that they discover it doesn’t meet their needs – and often at great cost in terms of time, money and stress. To help you avoid these pitfalls we’re launching a series of essential questions to ask that cover these critical factors, so you can make a fully informed choice.
Having your customer and business data in the cloud is a wonderful thing; you have complete control over your data on any device and on the go. But ensuring that data is safely managed is paramount, both for your customers’ sake and yours. Many of the major booking platforms underestimate the importance of data security and only encrypt data at rest, while select platforms such as Rezdy offer 256 bit SSL encryption both in transit and at rest. It’s a good feeling knowing data such as booking volumes, commission levels and customer information are consistently protected against a potential data breach. Look for a secure booking platform that offers PCI compliance for credit card processing, as well as daily backups.
Independence is a big deal when you consider that some booking platforms are owned by major online travel agents, or OTAs. For example, Bokun is owned by TripAdvisor; FareHarbor is owned by Booking.com; and Peek has its own proprietary online travel agent. While none of these relationships are inherently bad, many tour and activity operators prefer to work with an independent platform such as Rezdy that can provide neutral and flexible access to a large number of in-destination and regional agents (such as hotel concierges and visitor information centres) as well as the major OTAs. Read on for more on why that’s a great thing.
If someone books your tour through the booking software of a major OTA, you typically won’t receive specific details on how or where your customer found that tour. Unfortunately, this leaves you unaware of which channels are bringing you the best business – and for serious operators, that’s a missed opportunity to build strategic relationships with resellers. As such, you might prefer to work with more regional-based, local and independent resellers either in whole or in part. With a healthy and broad network of distribution opportunities, you’ll be setting yourself up for success and minimising the risks of aligning to just a few distribution partners. As one example, your bookings will be less vulnerable to any sudden changes in algorithms by the major OTAs.
If you have a website already set up for your tours or activities then you’ll likely be looking to embed a booking widget rather than use a hosted website solution. This allows you to maintain control over your own website and simply use a third-party system to add a streamlined booking experience to your web pages of choice. Ensure that a new platform will make this process easy, and check whether the platform will include their own logo on the booking page. We believe this detracts from your own brand as an operator, which is why we choose not to add the Rezdy logo to booking widgets.
Different booking platforms require different levels of control from the operator – some require you to call customer support every time you want a change made, which can quickly become frustrating! Others, like Rezdy, offer self-management and support when you need it. That’s important, because modern tour operators often need to be able to manage last-minute adjustments to their tours, reseller pricing and promotions. You’ll want to find an intuitive platform that allows you to manage most changes yourself in the back-end of your website. Of course, it’s also important to have easy access to quality support when you need it.
So there they are: the essential questions to ask about security and autonomy when comparing booking platforms. A free trial is an excellent way to determine whether a platform will provide the flexible features and ease of use you’re looking for. For all of your other questions, the team at Rezdy is here to help.
Coming up next: Essential questions about distribution channels.