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How to avoid overbooking during high season

How to avoid overbooking during high season

This article was originally published on April 25, 2023, and has been updated in May 2024 for enhanced accuracy and the most current information.

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 overbooking — 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 overbooking 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 overbooking

The good news for tour and activity operators is that the tourism industry is booming. In fact, in 2023, the tourism industry generated over $1.5 trillion worldwide. With those kinds of numbers, overbooking sounds impossible to avoid. Here are some tips for reducing overbooking to keep your business running smoothly. 

Allocate resources effectively

Effective resource allocation is crucial to avoid overbooking. Here are some techniques and booking systems that can support this: 

  • Dynamic resource allocation: Use a dynamic resource allocation system to manage your resources based on real-time demand. This allows you to adjust your resources, such as guides, equipment, and vehicles according to how many bookings you have.
  • Automated scheduling tools: Invest in automated scheduling tools that can help you allocate your resources. These tools can track availability, manage booking and schedule resources automatically to reduce the risk of human error.
  • Centralized booking system: Implement a centralized booking system that provides a clear overview of all your resources and bookings in one place. This can help you see potential conflicts and make adjustments as soon as you need to. 

Start managing your sales channels through a Channel Manager

Managing multiple sales channels can be overwhelming and increase the risk of overbooking. A channel manager can help you handle this by: 

  • Centralized control: A channel manager lets you control all your sales channels from one platform. This means you can manage bookings from your website, online travel agencies, and other third-party platforms in a centralized manner.
  • Real-time update:  With a channel manager, all your sales channels are updated in real-time. This makes sure that availability is consistent across all platforms, making overlapping bookings almost impossible.
  • Automated processes: Automation in a channel manager reduces the risk of manual errors. It can automatically update availability, process bookings, and even handle cancellations, making sure you always have an accurate inventory. 


Manage your agents and resellers in one centralized system

Agents and resellers can significantly boost your bookings, but managing them can be challenging without the right tools. 

  • Centralized management: Use agent and reseller management tools to keep all your bookings from agents and resellers in one place. This centralized system will help you monitor bookings and availability more effectively.
  • Commission tracking: These tools can help you track commissions automatically, reducing the administrative burden and ensuring accurate payments. This fosters good relationships with your agents and resellers, encouraging them to bring in more business.
  • Real-time updates: Make sure that your agents and resellers have access to real-time availability updates. This helps them avoid overbooking and provides a better experience for their customers. 

Train your staff

Your team plays a crucial role in managing booking and preventing overbooking. Your staff should be well-trained on your booking system and understand the importance of accurate data entry. Regular training sessions can keep everyone up-to-date with the latest features and best practices, reducing human errors that can lead to overbooking. 

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 overbooking 

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 travellers 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 overbooking with an up-to-date inventory across all channels.
  • Manage all bookings in one place. Control bookings from OTA's, 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.  

Try the tool to learn more about how our booking solution can help your business. 

Get started with a free demo


Gabriela Cofre Torres
Posted by Gabriela Cofre Torres
Content writer with a background in customer success and sales, Gabriela enjoys exploring Latin America, reading, and DIY projects.
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