Are you a tour operator coming out of pandemic-driven hibernation? Or are you someone who adopted a new booking system to be ready for the upcoming season? If it’s a yes, you’ll definitely need a new game plan for a new season, especially with COVID’s impact on the industry.
Before you get the ball rolling, the first thing that needs to be taken care of is your booking system. If you’ve invested in a booking system, it should reflect the recent changes in your operations, including but not limited to reduced activity capacity, new offerings, staff members, and more.
Take the time to review some of these areas to ensure your booking system is as ready as you are for the upcoming months.
Before you spin up for the new season, here are seven questions to start thinking about.
Question 1: Have you set up your activities correctly?
If you’re using a booking system, activity configuration is crucial in determining the ease with which customers book your offerings. If your customer faces any hiccup with bookings, there might be certain activity components that are missing or perhaps have expired.
The way you use your booking and reservation system is unique to your business needs. Yet, the basic functionalities remain the same across the board.
It is best to go through all the listed activities and their components, making sure they are in sync with your new level of operations.
Question 2: Has the schedule for your tours or routes offered, changed?
Giving your customer a clear picture of your available activities, dates, and times should be a top priority. Booking processes work fine when there is clarity. It saves you from unnecessary calls and emails from your customers asking for clarification. More importantly, you don’t lose a valuable guest.
Ensure this section reflects your actual planned schedule and offerings. With the ever-changing COVID restrictions, you need to stay alert. Always remember to update the availability when circumstances change, such as updated public health orders that impact capacity or closures.
Question 3: Has your pricing changed?
Pricing strategy is bound to change every year or season. Your pricing strategy and structure may also be impacted by any capacity changes, rising operational costs, and cancellations. Edit your prices listed on your website to match up to your currents rates.
For our Zaui customers, we recommend adding new price code(s) each season. It ensures that your historical bookings will remain unaffected, should you need to make a change to one. Zaui transportation operators can take advantage of our new pricing table which makes it easier to input and update locations and fares.
Question 4: Do you have a clear refund or cancellation policy in place?
A clear refund and cancellation policy that works for you and your customers can guarantee you a hassle-free new season. Reevaluate the policy to address cancellations and cancellation deadlines.
Depending on the health orders in your community, readjust your cancellation policy. As travel restrictions are constantly changing, you should be tweaking your cancellation policy accordingly. The policy should be clearly stated on your website, activity details and even in your booking confirmation email to avoid any ambiguity for your guests.
💡Zaui Tip: As you build your activity, incorporate a checkbox to ensure your guests know and acknowledge your COVID booking, refund and cancellation policy.
If you are wondering how to tackle refunds and cancellations at this time of uncertainty, an alternative solution is to offer credits to guests for postponing their activity instead of cancelling it.
Zaui customers use Customer Credit Balance to issue credits to guests deferring travel and looking to redeem their already-purchased tour or activity at a future date.
Question 5: Are you operating at full or limited capacity?
With the situation in flux, depending on where you are in the world, you’ll most likely need to update the capacity as per the changing public health orders. Be equipped to change things on the fly, like assigning additional equipment or changing the capacity of a tour or shuttle ride.
In response to the pandemic, there might be a few things on your list, such as additional cleaning due to safety concerns. When you assign equipment, consider the extra time needed for cleaning or any other measures you have taken and add them to your booking system.
Question 6: Do you have new staff, and what do they need to succeed?
With the new season, there might be new faces on your team. If you’re using a booking system, creating users for all your new reservations staff or guides should be the first thing on your agenda.
Also, make sure that you have given the right level of access to the staff. Giving any employee unnecessary access causes chaos.
And, of course, onboarding your team with your booking platform is something you can’t afford to ignore. Whether new or returning, all the staff members should be familiar with the system to avoid any delay or confusion as the season unfolds.
Question 7: Are there any channels you’d like for your experiences to be sold?
It will not be business as usual for you when it comes to distribution. As part of tapping into new avenues to attract customers, the distribution system might be looking different this time. Take a look at the sales channels to ensure you have all the required information in there.
As an example, you may also consider selling some of your offerings on Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) like Tripadvisor, GetYourGuide, Viator or through partners like Hotel Concierges or Travel Agents.
Within Zaui, the Manage Channel Partners section will provide you with visibility into which channels are enabled.
Zaui users can pop into Insights for some reporting on the performance of historical distribution channels to help guide decisions around where to sell.
With these areas thoughtfully reviewed and addressed, you and your team should be well-positioned to meet the challenges of the upcoming busy season.