According to a survey conducted by Greenberg and Google, online searches expand three times for booking experiences and activities compared to hotels. The value amplifies eight times in comparison to flight searches. This justifies the ever-increasing demand for a simplistic yet functional booking system on travel websites.
When integrating an online booking system, you must opt for a service that’s as powerful and generous as your company. The software on offer must provide a streamlined shopping and checkout process as more travellers turn online to explore their reservation options.
But how do you choose the right platform for your site? To simplify things, let’s discuss some parameters to help identify the ideal online booking system for your travel business.
Prioritizing Your Needs
Make a list of all your business needs and consecutively segregate the listings into two columns: must-haves and nice-to-haves. This will help determine a dividing line among your business vitals and preferences. Ultimately, you will identify the perfect online booking system that houses the features that you were looking for.
You must involve your team members and their valuable inputs to prepare the list of your business needs and requirements.
For instance, here are some key differences between basic and complex booking software systems.
Basic Online Booking Software:
- Maximum payment options including credit cards, bank transfers, PayPal, and cash among other options
- Real-time booking
- User-friendly interface
- Inventory system
- Enhanced customer support
- Integrations with an email marketing software
2. Complex Online Booking Software:
- Language and currency settings
- Integration with third-party software such as POS Systems, Rating Portals, and others
- Email customization
- Detailed sales reports
- Voucher and promo code management
- Resource management
The ROI of the Booking System
When it comes down to selecting an online reservation software, you need something that fits your budget. Every booking system has a differing SaaS (software as a service) pricing model in place. Some offer monthly or annual plans, while others are entirely ‘free.’
Let’s highlight the positives and negatives of each option:
Tiered Pricing Plans
This is a fixed price system that has a flat fee for different tiers. Most online reservation systems come with tiered pricing plans based on the volume of bookings. The system allows businesses to upgrade as they grow to provide advanced features, priority support, and many more.
- It’s predetermined, making it easy to plan your finances
- You can fast-track your growth once your site starts gaining traffic
- You need to pay from your pocket before the first few bookings flow in
- The plan that fits your budget might have some essential features missing
Whenever a customer makes a booking, you need to pay a certain percentage of the booking amount to the software provider. The rate may vary from 1% to 25%.
- You only pay when a reservation comes in
- With bookings flowing in, commissions add up quickly. This results in paying more collectively as compared to a flat-rate booking system
- Booking software providers have the leverage of modifying commission rates at their will. As a result, even a 1% difference turns out to be massive in revenue loss
3. Booking Fees
Much similar to a commission model, this plan also relies on the number of reservations received. But instead of you paying a commission fee, a convenience charge is offloaded to the guest during the checkout process.
- It’s a free booking software for tour businesses
- You can utilize your savings to boost other aspects of your business
- There are no additional fees for distinctive add-ons
- You need not worry about budget approvals from the board members
- This online reservation system has a high cart abandonment rate owing to a surprise fee
- You need to adjust your pricing strategy — alongside taxes and other fees you charge — to remain competitive
The Support System on Offer
Your business is on the brink of adopting a completely new system for the site. Even if you are tech-savvy or a coding maestro, something might wrong in the online booking and reservation system during peak season or at 3 am. The software provider must be ready to provide adequate support to keep your system running and minimizing the chances of losing out on customers.
But how do you ensure the proficiency of the technical support team?
You must partner with a 24/7 available team for starters; however, around-the-clock service doesn’t ensure quality. What matters more is the response or solution provided and in less amount of time. You want a team that walks you through the steps with detailed analysis.
Ease of Setup and Configuration
Depending on your business, you must integrate the online booking system into your site in a day or two. Further, if you need minimal guidance, usually, there are support articles or onboarding tips that walk you through the entire journey.
However, suppose you want to get all set at a faster pace. In that case, you must look at the capabilities of the software company provider to provide custom configuration or one-to-one coaching sessions.
What’s the point of an online reservation software that makes things more complex for customers and the staff? That would turn out to be a software problem instead of a software solution.
A clean and sleek user interface comes along with its perks. Your customers must identify all the steps involved in the booking process served through your booking engine. People don’t have enough patience to deal with a clunky interface these days.
Promo Code and Group Discount Functionalities
Suppose you feel like rewarding loyal customers with promo codes and special discounts. In that case, you must ensure that your online booking system software can handle bulk code creations, tracking, and redemption process.
Opt for software programs that can help create custom codes in just a few simple clicks. The booking system must have provisions to customize and edit tour descriptions, manage the starting and ending dates, and even designate the set of tours where the promo code can be used. This feature leverages tour businesses to run promotional campaigns at ease.
Choosing an online booking system should not be a hard nut to crack. Knowing precisely what to look for and how things fall in sync with your business model should be sufficient in making the purchase decision. Booking software engines must provide complete encryption and data security and answer the queries mentioned above to give substance to your tour business.