By Blake Ng — 27 May 2018
We previously discussed the major features that every online booking system requires to support a tour or activity business. However, those were the bare minimum.
For tour operators that are growing fast and need to scale quickly, you will have more complex needs that your booking software must fulfil:
You should be able to customize each email that your booking system sends out, so that it matches your business’ branding.
This should include everything from your customer’s order details and booking confirmation to the emails leading up to and following your tour. Also, if you’re allowing customers to buy your tours as a gift, you should snazz up your gift card email to make it look special.
Sending out emails and texts that are standard procedure (confirmation, reminder, and follow-up) takes up too much time. It is tedious administrative work that many booking systems will allow you to automate.
Besides automating this for your customers, your booking system should allow you to be notified in the same way when a booking is made.
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Things can get confusing if communications with your customers are not stored in the same database being managed by your booking software.
You should be able to send personal-style emails in addition to automated ones, so that each staff member can easily see the latest communication that has occurred with the customer in question without having to sift through a messy inbox.
The ability to assess your marketing campaigns is wholly dependent on your software’s ability to manage promo codes and vouchers.
Having it tied to your booking system means that you can not only set up parameters for each promotion, but you can also track how many bookings you received per marketing channel.
Your manifest needs to be organized so that everyone is on the same page. A well-structured manifest makes sure that you know of your customers’ special requirements, who has paid for the tour and who hasn’t, and your vehicle drivers can easily pick up your guests.
Your booking system should allow you to customize your manifest based on the fields specified in your booking form.
Maximizing revenue without overbooking is always an issue if your booking software cannot manage your resources for you. That way you will always have enough equipment and tour guides on hand to service as many customers as possible comfortably.
Your system should automatically adjust your availability every time a tour is booked, so that you never run the risk of overbooking without the resources to deliver.
Odds are that you are working with several agents to distribute your tours. It results in a lot of admin work when it’s a manual process, so your booking software should take over. Make sure that it can manage your agents’ access to your products and even pay them their commission.
Your booking system should allow you to slice and dice all the information you have on your orders. Whether it’s by agent, promo code, catalog, product, or even staff members, you want to be able to analyse your business from an operational standpoint. Otherwise, how will you be able to make those key decisions to grow your business?
Every modern business uses more than one online service to meet their needs. For example, you have your online booking software, your email marketing software, and your accounting software. Trying to take data from one of these to another can be a painful and time-consuming task.
Make sure your booking system allows you to automate tasks between itself and a multitude of online services. For example, it can do this through Zapier, or through WebHooks.
You should look for booking systems that are integrated with large online travel agencies so that it is easier for you to distribute your tours. The software will automatically update your availability so that there is no lag time for people booking through these travel OTAs. For example, Rezdy is integrated with Viator, one of the largest online travel agency for tours and activities.
Interested to see how many tour and activity operators are working with agents? Download the newest Industry Survey eBooks for Australia and New Zealand:
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