How to Deal with Overbookings

15 Feb 2016     |    Taz Bareham

As a tour and activity provider, the last thing you want is to get an alert that one of your tours is overbooked. It might seem like a good problem to have — so many people want to enjoy your tour — but it can be a stressful situation to manage. This is when your customer service skills are put to the test, and you want to do what is best for your guests, your business and your sanity. Here’s how to deal with overbookings:

Take a deep breath, and understand that it happens

Don’t panic. Overbooking is fairly common in the travel industry, and your guests will be patient if you provide them with a solution promptly. When you are selling through multiple channels, overbooking is always a risk. If it happens, contact guests in order to see if they can switch to the next tour. Offer them a discount or a premium benefit for the confusion. Make it a positive experience, and let your customer service skills shine through.

Create a waiting list for your tours

A waiting list is beneficial for both you and your customers. When a tour has been sold, customers can opt to be put on the waiting list. If you have any last-minute cancelations, you can quickly contact the customers on the list and see if they are interested in joining the tour. Once you have a waiting list created for each tour, you do not have to stress as much about overbooking. Instead of selling too many seats for one tour, customers will simply be redirected to the waiting list where they can choose to input their information.

Identify the cause

While overbooking is fairly common in the industry, you don’t want it to be common in your business. You need to identify the issue to ensure that it never happens again. Start with your staff, are you under-staffed during the peak seasons? What about your booking processes? Is there a time-lag between confirming a booking and updating your availabilities? Investigate your business until you find the cause! Remember, to prevent is better than to cure.

Invest in an online booking system to prevent overbooking in the future

When your distribution network includes multiple channels, you need to implement an online booking system that offers live availability to all of your agents. Live availability ensures that everyone can see the most accurate information about your tours and activities in real-time. An agent will instantly know if a tour has been sold out, and therefore it will not be overbooked. Instead, the agent can offer the guest information about your waiting list, and the guest can decide if they want to sign up. By automating the booking process, you no longer have to manually handle bookings from multiple channels. This significantly reduces the risk of overbooking your tours.


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