So, you'd rather be doing something other than updating your business spreadsheets for hours on end? Or updating your availability and pricing on each online travel agent individually? We don't really blame you.
Logistical difficulties hinder expansion and reduce profitability, despite reasonable levels of turnover. But you can always choose the alternative and bring order to the chaos of running a high volume tour and activity business.
Fortunately, we've got a formula for managing your tour and activity business without the headaches.
Streamlined business management
Less scope for human error
A great team of guides and top-quality customer service
Less time on admin and in the office
Better customer experience and reviews
More resources to focus on expansion and profitability
1. Spend less time on admin... integrate your bookings in one system
Does the following sound familiar?
“Our staff spend hours on the phone and manually entering bookings. I worked it out once and it was taking up to 40 minutes to process one booking, regardless of size.”
First things first, you need your bookings in one place if you want to simplify admin. By using booking software like TrekkSoft, you can integrate your online, offline, and point-of-sale (POS) bookings. And because your bookings on all channels will update in real-time, you'll always know when you're booked up and when to set up a last-minute sale on OTAs.
Having a book now button on your website is no good if it isn’t connected to your ticket desk and partners. If your staff are manually updating a spreadsheet with the bookings from your website, walk up trade and last minute sales from B&Bs and hostels, you’re not operating in an integrated environment.
To ease the transition online for you and your team, have a few demo calls with booking software providers and ask how they'll help you get your booking system live. Here are a few other questions you might want to ask.
2. To remove human error and know your availability... make your resources update automatically
You need: resource management
Got a mild fear of overbooking? A booking system stays on top of your resources in real-time. This means you will know exactly how many guides, kayaks, vehicles, or paintball guns you have available and when.
3. To spend less time on distribution... update all of your OTAs in one place
You need: channel management
We know a lot of you can relate to this...
“Keeping everything together in one place is a challenge. We have hostels selling paper tickets, we take online bookings on our website and with Viator, we also have a ticket office, none of which are connected. We’ve a good process in place, but we know we can do better.”
Online travel agents, or OTAs, can be another source of headaches for tour and activity business owners. But yes, there's a solution for that too: using a channel manager.
A channel manager lets you easily update the availability and pricing of your tours across multiple OTAs from one dashboard, saving you time and removing the possibility of human error. It also makes it easy to set up a last-minute sale on sites such as Viator to sell those last few seats.
A glance at the Channel Manager built into TrekkSoft booking software
4. To get out the office... start managing your business on your mobile
For this you need: a mobile management app
Want to see your synced calendar and bookings when you're on the road? There's an app for that. These days, you don't need to be in the office to manage your business and stay on top of bookings.
5. To scale up your business... see what's working with reporting
For this you need: a booking system with reporting
Once you've amped up your efficiency, you need to know if it's bringing in the results you want and need. Choose an online booking system with reporting and business intelligence features to help you keep track of it all. Then, do more of what works.
"We have expanded quite a bit in the last couple of years; we now operate tours in 18 cities. TrekkSoft has made it easy to manage our bookings across all our locations. With our new mobile app powered by TrekkSoft, our customers can book with us in-destination!"
Chris Sandeman, Owner of SANDEMANs NEW Europe
6. For profit and growth... keep things simple
Less is often more, especially when you have the right tools on hand. You might think you need a team of employees to manually input bookings and administer availability across different channels. But in reality, that's not the case. You just need to choose a booking system with a built-in resource manager and channel manager.
But is a quality booking system really worth the cost?
You might still be wondering if the switch to a system that integrates and manages your bookings is worth the cost. After all, you already have business running costs to consider. But it's not only worth it, it's becoming a necessity. Let's think about it.
Removing one seasonal employee for admin at $10 per hour for 5 months is equivalent to $8,000 saved.
A booking that takes 10 emails instead of 0 costs time and money. Pre- and post-trip emails that aren't automated are likely to cost you more.
Using an online and mobile booking system also means opening up the most important distribution channel for today's tech-savvy consumer. We see companies receive up to 40% more bookings after enabling online bookings.
Remember: it's not enough to accept online bookings but use manual processing to update everything else. Yes, it'll bring in extra bookings, but you'll also be losing time and money.
By getting the right tools in place and not hiring for admin, you're also in a better position to hire where it really matters. This might mean hiring more or better guides. For instance, Pat Liddy's Walking Tours in Dublin has the selling point of multilingual guides for some tours. Differentiation like this can really help your business scale.
Are you interested in talking this through in more detail? We'd welcome you to arrange a demo call with our team.
Written 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.