Pre-COVID. It was a time of flourishing visitation, growing and emerging new markets, all packaged up in promising growth for the attractions, tours and activities sector. It was rare for operators to find any time to consider website redesigns or review their booking system. But with fewer resources and (sadly) less customers, operators have taken this reset time forced upon us by the pandemic as the perfect opportunity to do just that.
Today, an optimised website and booking system is even more important than ever before. If you have potential customers visit your website, it has to be designed with one thing in mind - sales.
When considering a new booking system, remember that its functionality should go beyond just a checkout/payment page for direct website sales. A smooth, simple and encouraging booking process is vital for your customers, but a huge benefit to your business is automation.
Remove as many manual processes for your team as possible to save on labour costs across your business. A good system should cover that for you and you’ll be surprised just how much you’ll save in resourcing your entire operation.
If you’re not tech savvy or struggle with defining which system has the best features for you, use this checklist to ensure you are getting the most value, and integrate a system that truly relieves financial pressure and helps you operate with the greatest efficiency. After all, it’s never been more important than it is today.
- Is your e-commerce store white labelled?
A booking system should be a seamless experience for your customers and retain your brand throughout the customer journey. Make sure your system offers a white labelled e-commerce store along with the ability to brand your own e-tickets/vouchers. Your brand is important, don’t give it away!
- Is your booking system connected throughout your operations?
Some front desk managers have remarked that they need to use three different systems when customers arrive depending on the booking source of the guest they have standing in front of them. Walk-ins, phone bookings, third party, or direct - a booking system should be centralised with the ability to create or redeem all of these booking types. One system to rule them all, one system to bind them! Software is not a valuable tool if it doesn’t manage ALL of your booking channels, to deliver comprehensive reporting and analysis.
- Does your system manage your capacity and time slots in real time, AND do your third party agents have access to your real time capacity?
No question, in today’s world this flexibility is critical, but it’s also a smart function that will benefit your labour costs, planning and operations well into the future. Your capacity manager should also have the ability to deliver your real time capacity to your agents and distribution partners for it to be truly effective.
- Is your system cost effective?
The bottom line may have sunk below the surface in recent times, so you don’t need any additional monthly bills or outrageous fees. Look for a system that gives you all the tools you need to minimise as many manual resources as possible, and only charges you a small percentage of booking fee.
- Does your system support the provision of health and safety information to your guests?
The only certainty of future operations is that it will remain uncertain for some time to come. You need the ability to communicate important information to your potential guests as it is required.
- Is your redemption process automated and simple?
Even in ‘normal’ times, in fact, especially so, your guest expectations of their arrival and entry to your venue/activity should be smooth. Your system should have a simple QR/barcode scanner that’s connected to your backend dashboard that takes less than 30 seconds to grant entry for your guests. No paper tickets, no checking a clipboard or paper printout.
- Does your system provider help you manage your third party agents?
One of our clients manages up to 400 plus agents, each requiring spreadsheets to track wholesale rates and margins. No one has the time or resources for that. Check with your provider how they can help you with this, and manage all your additional channel bookings through the one system so you can track them all easily, and in one place.
- Can your system connect with your POS? Does your provider offer additional hardware?
POS can be an expensive outlay, and if you have already made this investment, it’s just an additional grind if your booking system can’t connect to it. Alternatively find out if your provider also offers hardware and at what cost.
- Does your system charge you for multiple products? Does it give you the freedom to partner up and create COMBO products?
Your system should give you the flexibility to create Promos and partner in your own region with multiple combination products to help the industry and your community to support each other at no additional cost. Plus it appeals to potential customers who see the value in multiple offerings.
- Is your system provider there to support you with advice and expertise?
You’re an operator in the tourism industry, so you know how important great customer service is. Ask your provider about what kind of customer support they can deliver. What advice and expertise can they provide to help you. A good provider will act more like a partner than a service, which is invaluable to scaling your business.
You can create some positives during this reset and turn your operations into a seamless automated machine, reducing your operational costs and empowering you to deliver the best customer experience for your guests, from booking to arrivals. When you're considering reviewing new software it's important that you ask your provider these questions. After all, without comprehensive tools, it's only half a solution.
Feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if we can help you review your website, create a BeMyGuest Xplore Booking System demo, or give you any advice at all.