Updated November 2021 – Whether you run a kayaking rental business on the island of Maui or you’re a tour guide operator working in Australia, you will want to provide your customers with a state-of-the-art online booking system. Once you’ve found an effective software, it’s important you have the correct features to capture bookings effectively.

Why? These systems allow customers to easily reserve your services for their upcoming vacation from the comfort of their own homes. Today, travelers want to know they can head to their destination, ready and prepared simply with a few clicks. After all, a core purpose of online booking is its ability to actively enhance your customer’s experience.

Here’s our pick of the top 11 must-have features of an online booking system that tour and activity operators should look for when considering which software best suits their business.

#1 Beautiful Image Gallery

High-resolution images allow customers to visualize what they will experience when they book with your company. An image gallery, being an important feature of an online booking system, allows you as the tour manager to pick the best sights that they will see along the way, and highlight those features of your tours. It’s also important to put up images of your team at work, because it gives your business a special character.

#2 Appealing ‘Book Now’ button

This bright, simple, and easy-to-use button is a necessary addition to your online booking system. Make sure that:

  • It is eye-catching. Your site visitors are browsing and might miss it if it’s bland.
  • It contains actionable language. Use words that tell them what to do next (e.g. Make A Booking / Reserve Your Seat!)
  • It’s easy to find. Make sure it’s not hidden on any given page. Give it a prominent place so that no matter where your site visitors are, it’s easily accessible.

By the way, you can make more buttons besides ‘book now’, although that should be your most appealing one. You can create other ‘call to action’ buttons that allow you to promote certain special deals and packages. They help to make the process of reserving a tour very simple for the customer so they’re not left wondering where to go next on your site.

Having enticing call-to-actions will go hand in hand with your unique tour packages and special offers. It will help in encouraging your customers to seal the deal.

#3 Real-time Booking

Real-time booking features give you the freedom to choose when and where you will offer specific reservations. With this feature, you will be able to update and showcase real-time availabilities across all your channels, including third-party platforms such as OTAs or other resellers.

This is a vital feature of an online booking system that will allow you to stay on top of your bookings 24/7. Having a real-time booking feature will automatically adjust your schedule to reduce the chances of booking errors such as double booking. This means that your customers can see real-time availability and make a booking when it’s convenient for them no matter which time zone they live in.

Once a booking has been made, your customers will receive an immediate confirmation of their reservation. A live booking system gets rid of the hassle of needing to confirm bookings and answering phone-in availability inquiries.

#4 Multi-sales channel Integration

To have multiple streams of income is an efficient way to scale your business. It’s a smart move to not put all your eggs in one basket and instead have multiple baskets that will each generate bookings. By doing so, if one of your channels either stops generating sales, you’ll still have the other channels to rely on.

The easiest way of creating multiple-sales channels is to work closely with OTAs (Online Travel Agents) and resellers. Having an online booking system that allows you to integrate with other partners, like Rezdy Channel Manager, will be beneficial in being able to connect with resellers and ultimately, help you create multi-sales channels.

#5 Social media integration

People who are looking into your services for an upcoming vacation will probably want to stay on top of your latest deals and promotions, which you likely advertise via social media. Social media integration in your booking software allows your customers to quickly link to your social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Google+. You could also advertise on social media whatever feature of the online booking system you may have programmed or launched. In any case, social media provides an ideal platform to forge new and creative marketing ideas for a tourism company.

#6 PayPal payment options

This is a safe and easy way for your customers to pay for your tours and services, and it is used across the globe. It increases your validity and proves that you value customer privacy and security., and at At the same time, PayPal allows you to get instant, guaranteed payments from your customers that you then can transfer to your chosen bank accounts.

With PayPal, customers have the flexibility to pay using their cards or online bank transfer all through the PayPal portal. This means that the customer’s payment details will be saved on PayPal and not on your website, which provides customers with that extra sense of security.

Having Paypal as an added payment option on your website are extra features of an online booking system that many customers will appreciate.

#7 Credit card storage options

In addition to offering safe and secure ways to pay, premium online booking systems also offer credit card storage options. This allows customers to store their credit card information in a safe and secure manner. This is especially helpful if the customer is planning to book more than one tour with your company.

#8 Visual calendar

A visual calendar allows operators to see what their daily, weekly, and monthly calendars look like at a glance. It’s an easy way to plan for staffing, additional tours, and refreshments that might be needed. The fact that it updates automatically means there’s one source of the truth. This is much more efficient than going back and forth with other staff members to double-check.

#9 Customer support and aftersales

As with any technological addition, tour and activity operators might need support when it comes to their online booking system. While taking advantage of the many free trials out there, make sure to test out the helpfulness of their support and aftersales team. Make sure you invest in a system that offers both online and over-the-phone customer support, ideally live chat as well.

#10 Reporting capabilities

Must have features of an online booking system

Understanding the performance of your business is a vital element of your business’ growth. To be able to see what’s working and what’s not will help you gain a clearer understanding of your customers and will help you make informed business decisions. It’s beneficial to have a system that will automatically collate clear reports in order to strategize for future campaigns.

For instance, an online booking system like Rezdy has reporting capabilities that allow you to take a deep dive into your products. With Rezdy’s reporting tool, you’ll be able to see what sells, how far in advance they sell and how likely they are to sell out. Rezdy’s reporting tools ensure that you get actionable data quickly and efficiently.

#11 Manage on the go

Chances are, your days as a tour manager aren’t spent sitting in front of a desktop computer all day. You probably manage bookings over smartphones or tablets too, so ideally you’ll want to have a ‘cloud’ compatible booking system. Cloud-based software allows you to manage your business remotely. This is very useful while you’re on the go and working with customers at the same time. Cloud access is a highly important feature of the online booking system.

Make your life easier with more features of an online booking system!

The purpose of any good booking software is for the customer to be able to reserve services with ease. Not only that, it allows tour and activity operators to manage their business in the simplest way possible. An organized, cohesive, and functional online booking system is essential to surviving in the ever-growing tourism market.

Since it allows people from all over the globe to find your company and book your services, you will want to make sure your online booking system has all of these features at the very least, as it makes the experience better for both you and your customers.

If you enjoyed this article then make sure to follow the Rezdy blog. There are a lot of marketing tools and resources designed with businesses like yours in mind. Who knows, you could still add a new essential feature to your business?

Curious to see if Rezdy is right for you? Start your FREE 21-day trial or book a demo today.

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Looking for some creative ideas for tourism marketing? Read more about it here.

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