Online booking systems bring tour and activity business owners into the 21st century. And when you pair the technology with old-school customer service, your business gets an exciting edge for selling services and filling activities. But before you choose a provider, it’s a good idea to consider the advantages and disadvantages of using an online booking system to make sure the software is right for you.
Advantages of Online Booking Systems
1. Your business is open around the clock.
Customers who make a decision to book a tour or rental don’t want to wait until you are in the office — they want to lock in the activity on their own schedule. Using an online booking system means that your business is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
2. You can maximize reservations.
Customers who book their own reservations are more likely to show up, making no-shows a thing of the past. If a customer does need to cancel, the spot automatically opens online, giving another customer the chance to book it. By maximizing your reservations, you won’t leave unused activity spots or rentals on the table.
3. You get paid quicker.
With an online booking system, you can require customers to prepay for activities and rentals. This puts money into your pocket faster.
With an online booking system, you can require customers to prepay for activities and rentals. This puts money into your pocket faster and helps make sure that on the day of the event you don’t have to worry about payment — giving you and your customers more time to have fun.
4. You’re not tied to a phone.
If a customer calls a tour or activity company and gets routed to voicemail, they may call back later — or they may call their second-choice. Online booking means you capture more potential business because reservations and information are always available. It also means you won’t get caught in a dreaded game of telephone tag.
5. You can effortlessly up-sell add-ons.
You can always add more guides, offer more activities, or expand your hours to grow your business, but all of those take work. By adding additional perks to your customers, you can easily add extra revenue for your business. Fun extras like photo packages or memorabilia, you can include options to these items in your online booking checkout.
6. It’s easy to manage your calendar.
Online booking systems allow you to check your reservations and availability wherever you are using any mobile device. You always know the status of your business, and your schedule can be easily managed from a convenient location.
7. You get valuable insight about your business.
An online booking system provides you with a dashboard of analytics that help you grow your business. Quickly determine your most popular sellers, the most requested time slots, or even the most popular add-ons by using an online booking system with robust insights. Take advantage of knowing what your customers want most — saving you time and money on offerings that don’t help your business grow.
Disadvantages of Online Booking Systems
1. You need Internet access.
If you run tours and activities in remote areas where you aren’t able to get on the Internet, online booking might not be for you. You’ll need reliable Internet access to check your reservations and to add bookings that are made online.
The good news for Peek Pro users is that our mobile apps work offline. This means that you can connect to the internet, sync your bookings, and go to areas with bad reception. In those areas, it doesn’t even matter if your internet cuts out – the Peek Pro apps will work.
2. You need to be ready for an influx of new customers.
Online booking software is a great way to attract new customers, many of whom prefer booking online from their computers and mobile devices. However, if you’re running a small operation without enough staff members or resources to expand your activities, growing too quickly may pose a challenge.
3. Not all online booking systems are created equal.
If you choose a provider that offers poor customer service or only a few features, an online solution might be frustrating — especially when you’re ready to grow your business. It’s important to do your homework upfront and choose an online booking system that is committed to supporting you and your business for the long haul.
4. Avoid booking systems that don’t bring you new quality customers.
If you’re going to invest in a new technology platform and take the time to train your staff, we recommend you choose a booking system that fits all of your business needs — including bringing you a stream of new, high-quality customers. Some booking systems include distribution channels, but they may not attract quality customers who will give you great reviews and refer your business to friends. Make sure you do your research to find a booking system that guarantees a consistent stream of quality customers.