Starting over isn't always the easiest thing to do, especially if you've been using the same booking and payment solution since you first started your business. It's like switching your iOS for Android, or vice versa - it can be incredibly daunting at first. But once you get the hang of it, you'll come to realise and appreciate all the new features your new software has that the old never did.
On the other hand, you will also realise that there are a few features that you will really miss, but that's because different companies have different priorities and unique selling points. Here are a few things you should consider when looking for a new software solution.
1. What are some key features you truly value?
As I mentioned in a previous post about transitioning from Zerve, ask yourself these questions:
- What key features were critical to the success of your business?
- Apart from how these features work, what results did these features actually deliver?
- How much effort and pain is required to adjust you internal processes?
- What is the difference in price of your new system?
What were the 2 -3 features that were absolutely essential to your business' success? Turn that list into your minimum search criteria. If a solution does not fulfill this criteria, keep searching until you find something that suits your business' needs.
2. Does the new software provider specialise in your industry?
"I used to use a free booking software that was in its starting phase. It looked nice but lacked a lot of features and I wanted something more professional yet easy to use", said Tom Pelgrum, owner of Bastimentos Alive, in an interview for our Spotlight feature.
If you operate in the tour and activities sector like we do, you will know that a typical booking management or online payment system is simply not good enough for your business. It is likely to lack a lot of features like a rental system, a live inventory or a channel manager. These features can really reduce day-to-day adminstration and allow you to focus on other aspects of growing your business.
So, while there are many cheaper and even free solutions out there, make sure to pick the right one for your business. Preferably one that understands what you need and can support your business with in-depth knowledge and expertise.
3. Does the software integrate with other tools you usually use?
Are you an avid Google Calendar or iCal user? Perhaps you use Wordpress or Joomla to build your website; or you sell your tours on OTAs like Viator or Musement. Does the new system integrate seamlessly with these platforms? How easy or complicated is it to get these integrations up and running?
Having your favourite tool integrated with your new system can help reduce the friction caused by the transition and can help reduce downtime.
4. What are the costs involved, and how will the costs change as you grow your business? Can you get a better deal out of the new arrangement?
Apart from the cost of whatever plan you choose, there will also be additional costs like transaction charges, charges for additional support and so on. You should also bear in mind that:
- Almost every system out there has a different pricing model. Make sure you consider the fixed costs, commision, "per booking fees", your Payment Gateway (credit card) fees when you are comparing systems.
- Free isn't always good. Free software usually means minimal features and even less support and/or an expensive commision based pricing model that will not scale with your growth.
- Paid systems differ in quality so it all depends on what features you're looking for. If something is “too good to be true”, it probably isn’t that good.
- What kind of support is included? Paid systems will usually come with a high level of support, not just when you first sign up, but throughout your customer journey too.
- Are there costs that you are better off employing someone to handle internally? For instance a call center charging $1.00 call, depending on your volume, this is something that can quickly get expensive and is worth considering hiring an in-house employee to handle.
- TrekkSoft doesn't believe in charging our customers for onboarding support. We believe that it is our responsibility to help your company grow and we want to partner with you as you embark on this new phase of your business.
5. Is the software easy to use? Will your team get along with the new system?
Is the backend easy to navigate? Once you've completed the onboarding process, it should be easy for you and your team to get to grips with it.
If you require additional support, will you have a dedicated account manager who knows what your struggles are and how to help you overcome them? At TrekkSoft, we provide that personalised support. If that’s something important to you, why not introduce yourself to our team?
6. Will your customers get along with the new booking and payment system?
If you have a loyal customer base, will they get along with the new system? Does the new system make the go through more or less steps to complete a booking and payment? Is the overall process smoother or more complicated?
Your customers are an essential part of your business. You need to make sure that they have a great experience on your website, and your new software provider should understand that too.
7. What are other users saying about the new software provider?
Is the new company credible and reliable? A quick way to check them out is to go on to review sites like Capterra and Glassdoor, as well as their social media accounts. If you find similar companies benefitting from these software providers, perhaps you should consider signing up too.
8. Does the company grow with the industry?
The tour and activity industry is changing and innovating faster than ever before. When looking at a prospective booking software provider, ask yourself how quickly the company is improving and expanding their software feature set.
- Are they seeking out new partnerships with industry leaders increase your distribution opportunities?
- Are they acquiring other software companies to enhance their software further?
- Will they grow alongside your business?
Check out their feature update pages and see if it's heading in an exciting direction, or check out what other tech companies are saying about them.
9. Do you get on well with the team?
A lot of our customers say that TrekkSoft was an easy choice because of our friendly and approachable team who is willing to go the extra mile to help them solve a problem. Our professional team will guide you through the various features of our system to help you make the most of our software.
10. Does the software provider offer a free trial with no strings attached?
With all these things to take into consideration, the best thing you can do is to test the system out for yourself. This leads me to my last point: Does the software provider offer you a free trial with no strings attached? You don’t want to spend money on something you’re not going to benefit from.
So if a free trial is offered, my advice is to take it and try it out for yourself. You will never truly know if something is meant for you until you try it.
Finally, if you are searching for a new booking and payment system, remember that you have the upper hand because companies like ours need your business to survive.
If you are transitioning from one booking system to another, you are very valuable customer because you already have experience with managing online bookings and growing your business with e-commerce. That means we can focus on teaching you how to use our system rather than teaching you how to sell online.
And most importantly, you are the customer and you have the power to choose who you want to give your hard-earned money to.
What did you think of this article? Let us know in the comments below.
Interested in a new software solution? Why not sign up for a free demo and speak to one of our experienced team members?
Written by Jon Fauver
Jon is CEO and Co-founder of TrekkSoft. He is also Co-founder of Outdoor Interlaken AG and Co-owner of Bus2Alps, Europe's leading student travel provider. Before this, Jon was a trip leader for Equator Expeditions.