If you're like me, you're booking more and more of your day-to-day life online, from restaurants to doctors appointments. This is even more pronounced when we travel. For most of us, flights and hotels were the first aspects of travel we started booking online, whether directly through the provider website or via third-parties like Booking.com.
It has been these types of online actions that have got consumers used to being able to book online – and they find it frustrating when they can't do it. The truth is that tours and activities have taken longer to follow the rest of the travel industry. But now they're catching up. And that's important, because consumers are looking for tour and activity providers with direct online booking functionality.
There are a lot of other brilliant reasons to consider adopting an online booking system for your tour and activity company though.
Here's my selection of the best, after looking at the data we collect at TrekkSoft and chatting to our customers. If you want to talk through the ins and outs of online bookings in more detail, chat with us about your business! My team really do know a thing or two about making your website your best conversion tool.
Is accepting online bookings worth it?
Short answer: yes.
1. Your clients want to book directly on your website
82% of all tour and activity bookings processed by TrekkSoft take place on a company’s website or mobile app. That's because it's easiest for guests: they don't have to pick up the phone, email, or go through a third-party site. Get set up for online bookings and you'll convert more interest to bookings (and lose less customers to competitors).
2. You can process bookings at any time of day
It doesn't matter if you're asleep when a customer on the other side of the world wants to book and pay for a tour: your website's booking system can handle it and update your calendar. This was the case for Antonio, the owner and founder of Captain Tony's:
“Since our office closes at 5.30pm, we often missed out on people wanting to book trips in the evenings. We noticed the majority of our online bookings came in the night, so TrekkSoft was a fantastic step forward for us. It took a while to get used to the system, because we run different tours on different boats from different locations, so it wasn’t an easy process to set up but once it was launched it has helped us a lot.”
3. Consumers want to book on mobile devices
49% of tour and activity bookings are on mobile. By using an online booking system like TrekkSoft, you're covered on any device. Your online booking process will be mobile-optimised and ready for bookings wherever they are.
4. You save on commission on online travel agents and resellers
With a booking system on your own site, it's easier to cut out the middlemen.
In fact, we recently talked about this in our first ever Tourism Success Q&A. Check out the full question and answer here.
5. You can reduce no-shows
The best way strategy is requiring deposits and down payments for your online bookings. Pre-trip SMS and email notifications also provide a handy reminder for booked guests.
6. It's easy to keep your inventory up-to-date
By using an all-in-one booking system like TrekkSoft, everything will be kept in sync when you process bookings via any channel - whether it's your website, a partner, or an OTA like Viator.
7. You look more professional
As Philipp Rebmann, Marketing and Sales Manager for Pearl Island Bahamas, shared with us:
“TrekkSoft has helped us a lot since not many tour operators in the Bahamas have a professional booking system, giving us a huge advantage over competitors. All our marketing activities lead back to our booking system as well. For us, this is one of the most important point of sales options and a lot of our customers take advantage of our online booking system. Additionally, it adds to our professionalism. We are still a small company but the effects of TrekkSoft are enormous.”
8. You typically receive more bookings
With online booking, you're turning your website into your shopfront and making it super simple for guests to book and pay directly. If you have a great marketing strategy and a healthy stream of web traffic, making more cash is a welcome side effect of your new booking system.
9. You can increase basket value with add-ons and packages
In an interview with Vanessa Latessa, CEO of Bus2Alps, she advised tour & activity business owners: "Offer (add-ons) to the customers at multiple stages in the booking process. Make sure they are visible during the research process, at the actual time of booking, during pre-departure emails and communication, and of course recommended by the guides during the trip.
10. You can accept bookings and payments from guests around the world
Having cash in hand and the right currency is no longer an issue for your clients.
11. You can get more bookings in advance
Here's what Mate from Brewer's Berlin Tours had to say about his experience with a booking solution:
"TrekkSoft brought us up to the level (selling trips online) immediately and online ticket sales have become an essential part of our business. Seeing our bookings in advance, we can plan ahead better, and we’ve been able to introduce new format small-group tours by managing ticket sales precisely with TrekkSoft."
12. But you can also accept last-minute bookings just before a tour
Travel consumers keep on booking more and more last-minute. The best way to respond to this trend is with an online system that saves bookings you otherwise wouldn't have time to process via phone or email.
13. You can accept requests for custom tours on your website
Managing custom tours was one of the main pain points of Oscar Almgren, owner of Uteguiden in Norway, before he chose TrekkSoft. He now saves time using the booking system:
“For us, it’s good to have a system that can handle large amounts of different trips at the same time. Many of our trips in the winter are custom made trips and it’s still possible to use TrekkSoft to manage them.”
14. It's easy to get set up for online bookings
With TrekkSoft, you can either integrate the booking software with your existing site or build a new one using the Website Builder. Before long, you'll have a beautiful "book now" button on your website to convert visitors to bookings and delight your customers.
Want to find out how the TrekkSoft all-in-one booking system could help your business? We'd love to introduce ourselves.
Published by Lucy Fuggle
Lucy is Head of Content Marketing at TrekkSoft. She tries to read a book a week, travel solo every month, and share ideas on lucyfuggle.com. You can usually find her in Switzerland's Berner Oberland.