As a tour operator, your process for accepting online bookings is central to your ability to run and grow your business. If that process is a good one, then you can be confident that you’re as efficient as can be. If not, then it can cause more problems than it’s worth.
Let’s take a look at what your biggest problems are in the daily running of your business without an appropriate online booking system.
It’s normal to have customers change their booking around last minute, or worse, cancel.
Without an online booking system, you have to adjust your resources to accommodate the change (for example, shuffle staff schedules), and you can’t apply a cancellation policy to make sure you’re compensated for that loss of business.
Also, if you’re the one that needs to change your availability, an online booking system will allow you to update it immediately, so that people will know that they can’t book during that time. Things happen, and bookings need to be rescheduled. An online booking system just makes it that much easier.
If you rely on resources to run your business, it’s easy to accidentally overbook a particular resource. A resource is something with limited availability, and is required to run your tour or activity. It can be a vehicle or a person.
Without an online booking system, you run the risk of overbooking without the resources to deliver. So if you have multiple tours that rely on that one bus or instructor, it can be difficult to adjust availability every time a tour is booked. The risk is you book out one resource at the same time – and then you’re stuck with the admin hassle of adjusting it all.
With an online booking system that allows you to manage your resources, it’s done automatically for you, so that if your resource is scheduled for a particular session, availability is blocked for the other tour sessions during that time period.
Without an automated online booking system, you are probably taking all bookings over the phone. After all, people want instant confirmation that their booking has been made, and they don’t want to give you their credit card details through email.
This is a hassle because it means you need to take notes and make sure that it’s been booked in and communicated to everyone who needs to know. There’s more room for human error.
If someone makes a booking while you’re out, you can’t immediately see everything you need to know about that booking. Either you wait it out, or someone back at the office needs to alert you to it and pass on all the details.
This is especially tough if you have to do a lot of work on the go. With an online booking system that allows access on mobile devices, you can check availabilities and bookings wherever you are – as long as you have internet access.
Without an online booking system, reserving a booking is a manual process. This means that while you’re having dinner with your family or sleeping, customers can’t self-serve.
But if you have an automated booking system, customers can book and pay at their own convenience. You don’t need to be there on the end pushing every booking through. This maximises your potential revenue and also reduces the human intervention needed. It’s a win for both you and your customers.
Administratively, payment that requires paperwork often results in getting paid late. You can also lose customers if you can’t accept credit card payments online.
With an online booking system, you can get instant credit card authroisation for people who want to buy your product or service online. This means that your customers have a safe way to pay, and they can be confident they’re paying the right amount, because automated calculations are more reliable.
There’s also more money in your pocket, and you get paid faster. You don’t have to pay rental space or hire an extra hand to manage your customers, and the money goes straight into your account. Instead of lagging behind, your cash flow is up to speed.
If you are interested in educating yourself on your online booking options, the information in our Buyer’s Guide to Online Booking Software Selection for Tour Operators can prevent you from picking a system that doesn’t suit your tour or activity business: