Just before we dive in, for any of you who may not think you need a booking system – we’re here to tell you, you very much do. Today’s tech savvy travellers want to see availability in real-time and if you’re not able to provide this, your competitors are. Instant gratification is the new standard for travel service.
First things first, you’ve started trading and realise there are aspects of the booking process that will need to be outsourced. Your guests expect to be able to book your tours and activities online, but your expertise and passion is in providing travel experiences – You just don’t have the time to check how many seats are available on next Wednesdays 2pm coach tour. So, where to start, who to go with and what will ultimately mean a smooth experience for your travellers?
Investing in new technology is a big commitment and not a decision to be taken lightly. Especially when it’s so central to your business— you are trusting a third party to deliver the same standard of customer service, usability and technology you offer as part of your services. There are a ton of booking systems out there, and no two tour companies will ever be the same. So how do you choose the booking system that’s the right fit for you?
Trust My Travel partner with travel’s leading innovators but we want to provide an impartial guide on how to go about making an informed decision for yourself.
Before agreeing to whoever appears cheapest, follow these three steps:
Make a wish list
This might sound silly, but it’s good to get an idea of what you want before you start looking. Make a list of everything your ideal booking system would have. What’s the price, what features does it have, what’s the level of customization and customer support?
List everything you can think of. Then break it down.
Separate your wish list into need-to haves, such as your budget, and nice to have’s, like appearance. This will help you evaluate each platform in our next step.
Sign up for free trials
Now that you have your wish list it’s time to sign up for some trials. This step will take up a bit of your time. But you and your staff will be using your booking system every day. So it’s worth it to find the right one.
Any software provider can make big promises on their website, but until you start playing around, you won’t be able to tell whether or not it’s the right fit for you.
Test your traveller’s experience
You’ll get a good feel for two important things from the first day of your trial— the user experience, and the level of support.
User experience: This is how easy the software is to use. Does the navigation make sense? Can you add your inventory easily? Can you find helpful resources?
And don’t forget to consider the booking process from your customers’ perspective. The reservation system should make it easier and quicker for your customers to book with you.
With user experience, the small things can make a big difference so pay attention to early warning signs of inefficiency.
Support: This can come in two forms – customer support and educational content. The right software will provide both.
If something goes wrong and your guests are unable to book with you, you could lose a lot of business. You want to feel confident that if you reach out, someone will be there to help.
Utilise the trial environment to establish the level of support each reservation system offers— email, phone, live chat, or in person. Are they contactable 24/7? Is an upgrade required to access live chat? Do they offer tools such as webinars, guides, videos or blogs to help you learn how to use their system effectively?You’ll get a feel for how much a company values your business during your trial. That’s when they’re on their best behaviour trying to win you over. If you can’t get support during a trial, I’m afraid not much will improve when you are a paying customer.