The first step to your strategy involves real-time availability. Displaying your availability on your website in real time has a huge impact on your conversion rate, and eventually in the number of bookings you’ll receive.

In order to sell more tours or activities through agents you need to create the right environment. Different agents, have different needs. In a 12 article series we’ll discuss the steps you need to be aware of to improve your distribution strategy.

What is Real-Time Availability?

Real-time availability allows you to broadcast your live availability across all of your distribution network at any given time. Imagine that you have a basket of eggs, and you are able to showcase that basket to all of your customers at once. They can each grab an egg when they want one, while all of the interested customers can continue to see what’s available in your basket. People can keep reaching for eggs at any time, as long as there are eggs left in the basket!

This is how real-time availability works for tour and activity operators. You can showcase all of the tours that you have available, and the entirety of your distribution network can see those options. As soon as one time slot is reserved, the entire system is updated and everyone is instantly informed.

Real-time availability is extremely convenient not only for you, but also for the agents who are looking to resell your tours and activities. An increasing number of agents are working solely with tour operators who offer real-time availability, as it significantly decreases the risk of overbooking and improves their own customer satisfaction ratings. If you want to work with more agents and expand your network, real-time availability is a must.

What are the Industry Best Practices for Implementing Real-Time Availability?

  • Do not set a deadline for when travelers can book your tours and activities. Allow them to book up until the last minute. There are many agents that specialize in last-minute bookings, and they will book customers even on the day of the tour. If you can allow people to book up until hours before the tour begins, you will see an increase in your overall bookings through your agents. Ideally, it’s best to give people the option to book until at least 2 hours prior to the start of the tour. Of course you can’t have no deadline at all because you need to prepare your tour, but make it as short as you possibly can!
  • Schedule your availability for tours and activities up to 2 years in advance. When you offer bookings in advance, you provide travelers who love to book early with options for their stays. But beyond that, agents will find you to be a more trustworthy tour and activity company. Your advanced schedule indicates that you have a strong, stable business that is continuing to grow, and also proves that you are organized and committed to your business. Agents know that they can book their customers on one of your tours, and they don’t have to follow up with you in order to verify that you are still going to be offering that same tour at the scheduled time.

distribution ready real-time availability

Share your Real-Time Availability across your Sales Channels

Once you’ve set your availability you can share it across all your distribution channels in real-time.

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