In the modern world, people want easy access to experiences. And with 5.19 billion people online globally, there’s no better way to reach your customers than through the internet. For tour businesses, it can be vital to update your methods and appeal to online audiences. 

As online booking has become the norm, fewer people want to make a booking on the phone. After all, an online booking is quick, easy, and can be made whenever a customer wants. So make sure you’re making the most out of your online presence and set up an online booking system for better customer experiences.  

How can an online booking system help boost visibility and sales?

In recent years, technology has transformed the business world. With the power of data and new technologies, businesses can gain insights and analysis, predict their future needs, or even simply improve their workflows using automation. And tour businesses are no different, they have a lot to gain by investing in the latest tech. 

Today, the Internet is the best way of getting your business in front of a large number of customers. When people go on vacation, where do they go to look for experiences? The guidebook isn’t usually the first port of call. Instead, they do a quick Google search. 

If they find your website and it’s engaging enough, they’ll think about booking tickets. The easier this process is, the greater your chances of securing a booking. 

Let’s picture two different scenarios…

In scenario one, the customer lands on your website and finds that to book, they need to make a phone call. In scenario two, they can book straight away, pick the best times and dates that suit them, pay directly, and have their booking finalized and confirmed in just a few simple steps. This is all possible thanks to an online booking system.

Scenario two is much simpler and more likely to convince customers. Scenario one, on the other hand, needs extra steps and might put customers off. 

Still unconvinced? Just take a quick look at the stats – 69% of customers are more likely to book with a company that has an online booking system. What’s more, 59% will go to a competitor that does have a system. 

In addition to setting up an efficient online booking system, effective financial management is extremely important for the success of your tour business. Consider implementing expense management software as part of your financial strategy. This allows you to track and manage all your business expenses efficiently. This includes recording travel expenses, operational costs, marketing expenditures, and more. 

By using such software, you can streamline expense tracking, allocate resources strategically, maintain financial transparency, and identify opportunities for cost optimization. This financial management tool complements your online booking system and helps guarantee the stability and profitability of your organization.

7 essential steps in setting up an online booking system

Having an online booking system seems like common sense. Finding the best place to start, though, can be tricky. With that said, let’s explore seven steps that demonstrate how to set up an online booking system. 

1. Align choice of online booking system to business needs 

There are many different booking system packages available. Think about some of the needs that are unique to your business. As a tour business, for instance, you’ll need ticketing options for the different tours you run. 

Of course, for a completely custom solution, you do have the option of coding your own booking system. That said, this isn’t recommended unless you have specialist coding experience. Otherwise, you might end up with a system that hinders, rather than helps, customers. 

2.  Integrate an online booking system into your website

Using Rezdy as an example, let’s look at a method for integrating an online booking system. 

For this method (available on the Accelerate plan or above), we’ll use iFrames. Navigate to Sell Online > Widgets. There are seven widgets available, pick the option that best suits your website layout. 

When adding a widget on your website, it is recommended that you invite your webmaster to assist you. 

tips to set up an online booking system

Next, you need to obtain the code that you’d like to embed. Choose the widget you want and a category or a product, then select ‘Copy to clipboard’ from the top of your screen. 

The final steps will be carried out on your website itself. Find where the code needs to go (eg. the booking page), paste it, and then publish the changes. 

3. Add your products and services to the booking system

Now that you’ve successfully integrated with your website, it’s time to add your products and services. Mainly, this will be adding the different tickets for your tour business. You might also want to consider merchandise to go alongside your tour (eg. t-shirts, custom mugs, etc). 

To add your products on Rezdy, head to the Products page. From here, you’ll be given a series for the type of product you want to create. This ranges from activities (e.g. skydives) to lessons (e.g. cooking classes). 

Once you’ve selected a product type, enter the relevant information. Add a product name, price, description, and any images that you’d like to include. Finally, choose ‘Save product’.  

4. Set flexible pricing and service customization if possible 

Some solutions allow you to add flexible pricing to your products. This means that the price is altered automatically based on market conditions and demand. For example, in the winter season, the price of tickets might be reduced, as fewer people are willing to travel in colder conditions.

5. Curate product and service availability based on capacity

Letting customers know when you have run out of a certain product is common sense. When users come to your site to buy merchandise, they should be able to see availability in real-time. 

This feature holds two purposes, firstly it gives customers the confidence that slots or sessions are still available. Secondly, though, real-time is one of the ways to create a sense of urgency. If a customer sees that there aren’t many spots left, they’re more likely to buy them straight away. 

6. Set up automated guest communication to improve the customer experience

It’s important that communication with customers continues after they buy a ticket. For example, after purchase, they’ll be eager to know that their place is secured. A simple booking confirmation can put customer’s minds at rest and improve overall experiences. 

The best solutions can automate guest communications. Look for features such as the ability to send follow-up emails and reminders when a tour date is approaching. 

You should support your automated communication with customer service staff, who can also handle more complex issues. So, be sure to hire, train, and upskill your customer service team so they can assist when needed. On top of this, use other tools like HR reporting software and scheduling software to make it easier to manage your staff and their availability.  

7. Organize your payment settings for chosen payment methods

It’s important to provide a variety of payment options for customers. Your chosen online booking system should facilitate this easily. 

For example, with Rezdy, this can be enabled with a few steps. Firstly, go to Settings>Payments. Here, you can enable multiple options for customers booking online. Clicking ‘Accept Credit Card payments’ allows you to connect a payment gateway. 

The next option is PayPal; tick the box and enter your PayPal username. Finally, you can enable offline payment methods such as bank transfers. 

4 best practices for implementing an online booking system

Simplify the user interface for easy tour selection and booking

When people make online bookings, they don’t want to feel confused. It might be tempting to add lots of features to your booking system. Trust us, though, simpler is better. Opt for a basic user interface so that users are guided throughout your website and will always know where to click. 

Understanding the ebike tour market

Simplicity should also apply to the color scheme of your booking page. Lots of vivid colors only distract and slow users down. Instead, stick a basic color pallet and try to use color to emphasize key areas of the screen (eg. the ‘next’ button).

Keep real-time availability and pricing information accurate

We talked earlier about the importance of real-time availability for tickets. Customers need to know firstly that tickets are still available and, secondly, if they are likely to sell out soon. The worst experience for customers is to complete the checkout process only to find that tickets are sold out. 

Similarly, it’s important that pricing information is always kept up to date. The listed prices of tickets should be updated dynamically so that customers have a clear idea of the cost. 

Ensure secure payment processing with multiple payment options

Make sure that your buyers aren’t stuck with one or two payment methods. Customers expect payment to be as accessible as possible. This means facilitating all standard payment methods, including debit cards, PayPal, and credit cards. 

To automate payments with customers, you’ll also need to set up a payment gateway. Rezdy is compatible with a variety of payment gateways and even has its own system: Rezdypay

RezdyPay is the payment solution for tourism operators. It’s designed to enhance your business operations by providing a straightforward, secure, and practical payment solution tailored to your requirements. RezdyPay has the highest level of Payment Card Industry certification available, Level 1 PCI Compliant and SCA Compliant, ensuring a safe and secure payment system for your business.

Automate booking confirmations with clear tour instructions 

Automating booking confirmations is an essential step. It removes some of the legwork for you, so you don’t have to write each confirmation manually. But, your automated booking confirmations should do more than confirm bookings. 

Automated booking confirmations are an excellent opportunity to provide additional information to customers. This could include the date of the tour, parking arrangements, and even an itinerary for the day. On top of this, you can also provide direct contact information, so that customers feel confident that they can call or message should anything go wrong on the day. 

Final thoughts

In the modern world, online booking systems are a must-have for all tour operators. Why put barriers between you and a sale? No more waiting around on phone lines. A booking system means quick purchases. With a few simple clicks, a customer can book tickets. 

Now that we’ve explored how you can set up an online booking system, it’s time for you to start exploring the best booking software available.

Rezdy for instance is the world’s leading independent online booking and distribution platform. We have equipped thousands of tourism operators, just like you, to create a streamlined booking experience, not just for your customers, but also for your team. With features such as real-time availability and tools such as the Redzy Channel Manager, you’ll be able to save time, better manage your bookings, and grow your business. 

So, why not put these tips into action? Start your FREE 21-day trial or book a demo session to see how Rezdy can fit the unique needs of your business.

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