Whether you run a kayaking rental business on the island of Maui or you are a tour guide operator working in Australia, you will want to provide your customers with a state of the art online booking system.
Why? These systems allow customers to easily reserve your services for their upcoming vacation from the comfort of their own home. This is the way that travelers want to do things these days — they want to know they can head to their destination, ready and prepared for all of their excursions with a few clicks.
Here’s our pick of the top 10 must-have features that tour and activity operators should look for when considering which online booking system best suits their business:
#1 Beautiful Image Gallery
High-resolution images allow customers to visualize what they will experience when they book with your company. An image gallery, being an important feature of the online booking system, allows you as the tour manager to pick the best sights that they will see along the way, and highlight those features of your tours. It’s also important to put up images of your team at work, because it gives your business a special character.
#2 Appealing ‘Book Now’ Button
This bright, simple, and easy-to-use button is a necessary addition to your online booking system. Make sure that:
By the way, you can make more buttons besides ‘book now’, although that should be your most appealing one. You can create other ‘call to action’ buttons that allow you to promote certain special deals and packages. They help to make the process of reserving a tour very simple for the customer so they’re not left wondering where to go next on your site.
#3 Real-time Booking
Real-time booking features actually give you the freedom to choose when and where you will offer specific reservations. At the same time, customers can book these tours and reserve your services when it is convenient for them, and they receive immediate confirmation of their reservation. This gets rid of the hassle of answering phone-in availability inquiries.
#4 Social Media Integration
People who are looking into your services for an upcoming vacation will probably want to stay on top of your latest deals and promotions, which you likely advertise via social media. Social media integration in your booking software allows your customers to quickly link to your social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google+. You could also advertise on social media whatever feature of the online booking system you may have programmed or launched.
#5 PayPal Payment Options
This is a safe and easy way for your customers to pay for your tours and services, and it is used across the globe. It increases your validity and proves you value customer privacy and security, and at the same time allows you to get instant, guaranteed payments from your customers. The best booking systems will allow you to use PayPal as a payment option.
#6 Credit Card Storage Options
In addition to offering safe and secure ways to pay, premium online booking systems also offer credit card storage options. This allows customers to store their credit card information in a safe and secure manner, and is especially helpful if the customer is planning to book more than one tour with your company.
#7 Visual Calendar
A visual calendar allows tour and activity operators to see what their daily, weekly, and monthly calendars look like at a glance. It’s an easy way to plan for staffing, additional tours, and refreshments that might be needed. The fact that it updates automatically means there’s one source of the truth. This is much more efficient than going back and forth with other staff members to double-check.
#8 Currency and Language Settings
Most tour companies want to appeal to a global audience, so it is important to have an online booking software that can be displayed in other languages and also accommodate different currencies. After all, you will most likely be catering to tourists, and you want to make it as easy as possible for them to learn more about your offering and lock in a booking.
#9 Online Support and Phone Support
As with any technological addition to your business, tour and activity operators might need support when it comes to their online booking system. When you are taking advantage of the many free trials out there, test out the helpfulness of their support team. Make sure you invest in a system that offers both online customer support and customer service over the phone.
#10 Access to the Cloud
Chances are, your days as a tour manager aren’t spent sitting in front of a desktop computer all day. You probably manage your business over your smartphone or tablet as well, so ideally you will want to have a booking system that works with the ‘cloud’. Cloud-based software allows you to manage your business remotely, while you’re on the go and working with customers at the same time. Cloud access is a highly-important feature of the online booking system.
The purpose of any good feature of an online booking system is for the customer to be able to reserve services with ease, and for the tour and activity operators to manage their business in the simplest way possible. An organized, cohesive, and functional online booking system is essential to surviving in the ever-growing tourism market, no matter where your tour company is located.
Since it allows people from all over the globe to find your company and book your services, you will want to make sure your online booking system has all of these features at the very least, as it makes the experience better for both you and your customers.
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