The tourism market is crowded, so standing out is important. Sometimes the only thing that motivates a customer to choose you over a competitor is the convenience you can offer them. That's why whether you're a tour guide or activity provider, you need to offer a way for customers to book your services online.
But how do you choose a booking solution? You can build one yourself using a number of helpful tools. For some companies this is enough to bring them online. Or you could look into an all-inclusive package that helps you receive bookings, manage them, and streamline everything in your web presence.
So, which is the right move for your company? Let's weigh the options.
Building your booking solution
As a business owner, you're used to getting things done. You often take an idea and make it a reality, even if it means trying to do it on your own. That's why it seems sensible to build your own booking solution. However, managing your online needs can be complicated.
There are a number of tools out there to help you manage your tour or activity company, but it's hard to find it all in one place. Here are some of the options available:
Building your website
1. Squarespace - One of the highest-rated website builders around, Squarespace is a great tool. It allows you to use it as an online store, use newsletter templates, and even host your blog. Its packages start around $40 each month for their ecommerce options. This cost increases based on customization and additional features you choose.
2. Wix - Another favorite, Wix offers similar features as Squarespace. You can choose a package that offers an online store, free domain, and 200GB of storage. The VIP package is ideal for businesses as it comes in around $25 each month. This cost increases based on additional features.
3. Weebly - This website builder is easy to use. It comes with an ecommerce package as well, membership registration, and even offers its services in several languages. The pricing is similar to Wix and like both Wix and Squarespace, it increases depending on add-ons.
4. Hiring a web designer - this is an option that most businesses choose when establishing themselves online. It comes with benefits such as customized designs, full-time support, and a designated person to take on all IT responsibilities. It's worth it for the knowledge and time it saves, but it comes at a price.
A custom-built website made from scratch can set you back anywhere between $2,000 – $5,000. That might not come with the full-time support that a custom website would need. Adding in the hours, even from a freelance employee, you could easily spend another $5,000 each year.
To have a designer build your site on a platform like Wordpress is a more affordable option. This will run you something in the neighborhood of$150 - $500 for service. That may or may not include any costs with additional software, though. It also doesn't factor in the potential need for a Wordpress developer.
The most affordable option with a designer is to hire them to build you a drag-and-drop site (ex. a Wix website). That will cost much less, somewhere around $100 - $400. This doesn't include the cost of the subscription, which could be somewhere between $25 - $50 each month.
Managing payments and distribution
While most website builders offer a payment gateway, they might not be compatible with all currencies. They could also require different security needs and inconvenient time commitments. PayPal and Stripe are two of the most popular payment solutions on the market. While they are helpful for most businesses, they might not fit your particular market.
Once your website is online, you need a good method for distribution. We know that most tourism companies use a number of distribution channels. Whether you're on Viator, Musement, or TripAdvisor, there is a lot to manage in your channels. It's quite time-consuming, but worth it to build your network online.
Buying your booking solution
We've seen how much goes into building a website and management solution. Depending on the route, it can be quite expensive but it's worth it to effectively present your business online. Alternatively, you could invest in an all-in-one option.
The problem with a standard website builder it that they're not designed specifically for tour and activity companies. The standard ecommerce options were created for online stores. These businesses often have a standard price and inventory, it's all very simple to fulfill these orders. Activity and tour companies often don't have the same luxury, as their bookings may come in surges and need to be fulfilled anywhere from months in advance to a moment's notice.
There are a number of online booking software companies to choose from. But the best one will be something that takes all of the steps of building a booking-optimized website and makes them simple. Tour and activity companies often need three basic things to move their business online: a website, a booking solution, and a payment gateway.
It's most convenient when the same software can provide all three. However, some companies are happy with their current website and don't need a new one. That's why some companies opt to simply integrate the booking software onto their existing site.
TrekkSoft provides its customers with a number of features they need and several solutions to help them go further. Our list of features starts with booking options and spans all the way to reporting and analytics. Best of all, you can access these features at a price point that fits your unique needs.
Does this sound familiar? In one window, you're managing your website builder, in another you're tending to payments, and you're trying to manage all your distribution channels in several more. It starts to feel like you're running a website management service instead of a tour company.
It's hard to manage everything at once, and adding up each service is a big investment. Not only of your money, but valuable time and resources. It's definitely possible, but it's a lot of work to build and manage your own booking solution.
Thankfully, there's a better way. There are plenty of options when it comes to bringing your business online. Let TrekkSoft help with our all-in-one website builder and booking solution. See how much time you could save by scheduling a demo today.
Wondering what you could save by switching to TrekkSoft? Let us help you find out.
Written by Sara Napier Burkhard
Sara is a writer from the American West Coast. In recent years, she's written for companies like Hipmunk, iTourMobile and Mylikes. She now resides in Zurich, Switzerland where she finds new adventures and attempts to speak German with minimal success.