How can Online Reservation Software Help Operators Grow Their Business


October 26, 2021

5 min read
Reading Time: 5 minutes

After coming off what feels like a busy couple of months or from hibernation, you may be in the process of reviewing your revenues and workflow. The overall assessment may give you different insights about the workflow and sales. 

Tour and activity operators operating with pen, paper and spreadsheets may need a more efficient process and technology to help them make their next season better than the last. 

While others who have already switched to online reservation software may have found out that their existing technology investment did not fulfill their business requirements, realizing that it’s time for a new software solution.

Whether you’re new to the world of online reservation software or on the hunt for the best tour operators software equipped to meet your needs, there’s a lot to consider as you plow through your research and demos with vendors.

First off, What is Online Reservation Software?

Online reservation software is a software system that helps you automate and manage bookings as well as day-to-day business operations, saving you time and money from manual processes.

A representative image of an online reservation software for tour and activity operators

We hear this scenario quite often, take this example:

During the peak season, operators get excited by the prospect of bookings rolling in. But, sometimes, season’s pressures can put a damper on things, especially when the team does not have the tech tools or processes to catch up with the fast-paced environment, booking requests and changing guest demands that are all a part of day-to-day operations.

Human errors are also quite common. It’s quite easy for staff to get activity details, such as the tour capacity wrong, which can potentially result in overbooking and disgruntled guests.

And other days, the team may be tied to the phone updating guests about changes in tours. 

The chaos intensifies when you add bookings from other sales channels, pulling from your inventory and their payouts to the mix. 

During all this, you often tend to forget the cardinal rule — delighting your guests and creating memorable experiences.

How Online Reservation Software Helps Tours & Activities Business

A booking management system can handle the heavy lifting and alleviate some of this stress, whether you’re a team of one or fifty.

An online booking system can streamline operations and workflow, enabling tour and activity operators to focus more on the guest and less on the tedious desk work. 

It enables tour providers to manage inventories, schedule employees, track bookings, and automate guest communications. 

Besides automating businesses and reducing costs, the booking system helps you reach travellers around the world with its multi-language and multi-payment options. Breaking language and payment barriers, the system is equipped to accept worldwide bookings boosting your bookings and revenues. 

Here is a quick look at the benefits of online reservation software:

✔️ Direct Bookings in Real-Time

Accept bookings anytime from anywhere in the world, even when you are away from your office or your staff take a break. Customers can directly book tours and activities on the website at their own pace, without being on the phone with a tour operator checking the availability and giving the payment details.

It helps operators get more advanced bookings, and they will never miss out on last-minute bookings. Also, whenever a booking is made, the system automatically gets updated and saves operators from overbooking. 

Tour operators will have direct access and ownership of the guest relationship with direct bookings, giving them the opportunity to communicate with guests post-tour and nurture the relationship to make them their regular visitors. 

Making bookings available on the website will also allow tour operators like you to have the full share of the bookings unlike when you distribute tours and activities via partners and OTAs. Without splitting profits with OTAs and other sales channels, you get the whole 100% of the revenue pie.

✔️ Smarter Online Distribution

Partnering with OTAs and other networks is how tour operators reach out to enthusiastic travellers all over the world. Even when distribution gives operators that extra mileage, it is often challenging to handle various sales channels.

Online reservation software provides you with a centralized place to oversee all your sales channels and automatically manages your bookings. The channel manager equips tour operators to administer the reseller channels, and it gives them the freedom to allocate the inventory available for resellers.

And best of all, calculating partnership commissions and payouts will be a breeze as it is all automated. Once operators set the partnership rates with each sales channel, the booking system calculates the commissions and manages them every time a sale is made.

✔️Upselling Opportunities

When operators rely on phone or email bookings, it can be tricky to convince customers to add another tour or product to their existing booking.

With an online booking system in place, tour and activity operators can easily promote add-ons and packages to guests who are already on the website with a tour or route in their cart. When the guests are ready to check out, operators can also display relevant product add-ons on the product page or the cart page.

Customers might be tempted to enhance their experience by adding additional tours or products to their cart during the online booking process and it further boosts the average booking value and increases your revenue.

✔️ Data-driven Insights

You have to play around with formulas on an excel sheet to get insights into revenue and sales performance. Even then, in-depth analysis to make an informed decision and create a game plan for the next season is not feasible.

Booking management systems have built-in insights and reporting capabilities to give comprehensive reporting about various aspects of your business, such as total revenue and booking volume, to name a few.

Getting a critical overview of business performance will help you track the growth and create the tour promotion strategy for the upcoming season. So, next time your business decision is not based on assumptions, but you have numbers and analytics to back it up.

✔️  More Tools

Most booking software has the capability to integrate with third-party tools such as payment gateways or accounting systems, increasing the efficiency of operations. For instance, software with payment gateway integration allows tour and activity providers to explore the different types of payment options. 

Besides third-party integrations, online booking software will have built-in tools that can be used for promotions such as promo codes and gift cards. These apps and integrations will help operators promote tours and boost sales without breaking a sweat.

What to Take Away

An online booking system can make the path to booking frictionless for prospective customers, converting more travellers to your guests and increasing your revenue. It will also be a welcome relief for your staff as they are able to streamline day-to-day operations efficiently with a booking system. 

Choosing the right booking system for that extra edge over your competitors needs a lot more information and preparation.

Our latest Buyer’s Guide provides some pointers for selecting the right vendor. The Free Ebook provides a round-up of everything you need and a checklist of questions you should be asking when you hunt for an online booking management system for your tour and activity business. 

The Booking Management System Buyers Guide has valuable tips for you to find the best software that can scale with your business.

Download Your Free Guide to Choosing a Booking Management System

Our Zaui user community, if you have any questions on how to make the best use of Zaui, reach out to our Customer Success team.  

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