As well known for many tour and activities operators, one of the main goals is to have all the seats occupied. Still, in the search for full tours, there's the possibility of having overbookings - where your total capacity available for a tour or activity is less than the number of bookings.
Managing all sales can be very demanding when working with direct and indirect bookings. An overbooking can happen by mistake when you're working with sales and dealing with daily operations manually or due to a system error.
But some businesses prefer to offer extra "seats" since they regularly have no-shows. If those additional "seats" that you're selling are not causing any problems to your customer's experience, then you can keep doing it. On the other hand, if the overbookings happen because of a mistake, then it's time to review your solutions.
Remember that whenever a customer chooses your tour operator business, they are seeking an incredible experience, and after all the planning and booking, realizing that the tour or activity they have planned is full will leave them with a dreadful experience. Keep in mind that a bad experience not only can affect the customer's vacation but can also affect the reviews they'll give you. A survey by Brightlocal showed that in 2021, 77% of consumers always or regularly read online reviews when browsing for local businesses.
Now that you know what overbooking is, check out how to handle and avoid them.
Ways to reduce overbookings
While having control of all your reservations, cancellations, and requests can be overwhelming, some strategies help you avoid overbookings. Here are some ways to avoid overbookings.
One way to reduce overbooking is working with a Channel Manager.
It manages the distribution of your tour or activity availability onto multiple online booking channels. With this tool, you can sell via online travel agents, such as Viator, Expedia, and Musements, all simultaneously, with your availability synced across the channels. This way, your inventory is updated in real-time, and you avoid overbookings.
There's also the possibility of working manually.
Keep in mind that when you decide to manage manually, besides adding each booking to your reporting system, you must always check your availability. Also, when you do your management manually, remember to update tour information, prices, and availability on each platform. This is not ideal for those who work with multiple channels and offer more than one service, but it is still a good strategy for those who are starting and want to know more about organizing their bookings.
Keep track of your distribution channels.
Many tour operators seeking to sell more promote their tours in several channels – their website, Google My Business, TripAdvisor, OTAs, sales agents, etc. While it can help increase bookings, it also can be overwhelming and hard to manage. Check the channel and keep the ones bringing revenue and value to your business. To know more about where to promote your tours, read 18 distribution channels tour and activity operators should consider.
And last but not least, train your staff.
Whether you work with software, spreadsheets, or a book, mistakes can happen from not knowing the correct workflow. Dedicate time to ensure everyone responsible for the reservations knows how to proceed with bookings.
Read Resource management: powerful tips for tour companies to learn more about how to operate your activities.
Whether working with management tools or manually, overbooking can occasionally happen, and dealing with them properly can save you time and a bad review.
What to do when there's overbooking
After confirming the overbooking, it's time to repair the damage. Here are some solutions you can offer your client.
- Give preference to returning customers. All clients deserve an incredible experience, but if your tour is overbooked and you need to decide which client will be moved, prefer the client loyal to your business.
- Provide a list of partners that offer similar services. If you want to take the extra mile, which will probably make your customer happier, you can contact the other tour operators and manage all the bookings. Also, make sure to provide transportation to the new operator.
- Offer exchange date. This option is only the case for some clients when dealing with tourists that often travel on scheduled dates. But if they are available, offer them to take the tour or activity on another date and give them free upgrades - which can include extra time on the location, monuments, complimentary breakfast, or any other updates your business offers.
A booking system can help you with overbookings
As we mentioned before, a way to stay on top of your distribution channels and manage your bookings is through a channel manager. Not only the booking system will automatically collect your availabilities, but it also will help you save time and avoid errors. You can also take advantage of the data to estimate the number of travelers per tour, have a detailed list of your customers, and plan how you will proceed with the overbooking.
TrekkSoft is the leading booking solution for Tour and Activity Companies that allow you to connect your online and offline sales channels to take bookings and scale while simplifying back-end management.
Learn more about TrekkSoft solutions
To avoid bookings, manage your business, and increase your revenue, Trekksoft offers valuable solutions. Automate booking confirmations and sync availability across sales channels with our channel manager. Some features that help manage your routine are:
- Adjust capacities across different channels. You decide the number of trips you want to sell on each channel.
- Have an inventory updated in real-time. Avoid overbookings with an up-to-date inventory across all channels.
- Manage all bookings in one place. Control bookings from OTAs, partners, or direct on TrekkSoft.
- Take data-driven decisions with sales reports. Track your sales performance and look for new opportunities to grow your business.
- And more.