In a world where we can do almost everything online, if you run a business you need to make sure it has e-commerce capabilities. For a tour company, this means that you have a website that offers customers the facility to book a tour or activity while they’re on it.But having booking software on your website needs certain features to ensure it’s offering potential customers the best possible service. Here are 10 that are pivotal when it comes to online bookings.
1. Your booking software has live inventory
This is the most important feature of any tour booking engine. Having a booking form that is simply a contact form isn’t enough. If you only have 20 places available on a tour you might get 30 requests for one particular day. This will result in overbooking. But have live inventory and you won’t encounter this problem – only what you have available can be booked.
Using TrekkSoft's booking engine you can view upcoming departures, adjust available seats and open new tours. Using our software your business is always up to date.
2. It works on mobile
The shift from desktop to mobile will continue in 2015. Last year over 38% of web visitors and nearly 40% of page views were generated from non-desktop devices. Commercially, nearly 21% of hotel bookings and 17% of room nights came from tablets and mobile devices.
With these statistics in mind, your booking engine must work on mobile devices. TrekkSoft's mobile solution helps you sell and manage a mobile-optimised booking process.
NB: This is an analysis by Max Starkov, president and CEO of HeBS Digital
3. Your booking engine is prominent on your website
If you have a booking engine on your website, you need to let people know it’s there. There are different tactics you can use to ensure potential customers can see it – make sure you use a ‘Book Now’ button which stands out; make sure it’s above the fold; make sure you use a call-to-action in the text. Do this and people will know your website is an ecommerce one.
4. Your booking process is as seamless as possible
Nobody wants to have to spend 15 minutes or more booking a tour online. They want it to be as seamless as possible. This means having the booking process complete with as few steps as possible. When you are choosing your software, make sure it is one that makes booking on your website effortless.
5. Ensure it doesn't take visitors to an external website
Some tour companies have booking engines on their website that aren’t really on their website – the transaction is done on a third party website. This is a huge no-no when it comes to your booking engine. You want your customers to be in an environment they are familiar with and can trust from start to finish.
If the booking process starts on your website but finishes on another it will result in a drop in your conversion rate. With TrekkSoft's booking software users start and end the booking on your website.
6. Make sure the software is PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliant
If you were to ask people who don’t book online why they don’t, nine times out of ten they’ll tell you it’s because they’re wary of security – they want to know their details are secure. Whatever booking engine you choose to have on your website, make sure it is PCI compliant. This is adherence to a set of security standards that were developed to protect card information during and after a financial transaction.
7. Non-English speaking customers can use the system in their language... and currency
The popularity of English doesn’t mean that it’s the only language your booking engine should be available in. You need to give Spanish, French, German and speakers of other languages the facility to book in their native tongue. Our software supports many languages and lets you sell in a range of currencies.
8. The fields of your booking engine need to be customisable
If you’re the tour operator of a pub-crawl and you’re offering the facility to book online, you’ll need to collect different data from customers to the operator of a scuba diving school. With this in mind, you’ll need to be able to customise the data capture fields. This is why we ensure TrekkSoft's Custom Fields function allows tours and activities to collect unique information.
9. Bookers get an automated email after booking… and a reminder to review the tour
An automatic email is a huge part of the booking process. Customers need to know their booking is secure instantaneously. If they don’t they’ll wonder if their booking has gone through and is secure.
Another email customers need to get is the one after they’ve experienced your product. In a world where anybody with access to the internet is a publisher, everyone is a critic. Give your customers the option to leave their thoughts after they’ve bought from you.
10. Make sure you can capture and display tour reviews on your website
90% of online shoppers online are influenced by reviews. They can be the difference in whether or not a customer buys your product. To ensure you’re giving your customers the potential to be swayed by these decisions, you need to have reviews beside your product. Using the Trekksoft TripAdvisor integration you can harness the power of reviews and boost your rankings and sales.
Written by Colm Hanratty
Colm is Founder and Managing Director of digital marketing agency Sixtwo Digital. After running Hostelworld.com’s content and social media for almost 11 years he felt it was time to branch out on his own, using all his experience to educate others in the travel space.