Generate more bookings despite Covid-19: The 5 most important features for operators to leverage this Christmas

Features, Tipps & Tricks  Christian Blume

Especially during this Christmas season, operators of tours, activities and attractions are faced with the big question of what measures they need to take to ensure the stability of their business in 2020. For many companies, December tends to be one of the months with the highest turnover, especially for indoor activities which are not impacted by the cold weather. 

Due to the second lockdown which has been reinstated to differing degrees across Europe, no active business can take place at present and no significant easing of these conditions is expected for December either. Reopenings will occur gradually and, depending on the region, various restrictions will be imposed, which make long-term planning for the coming weeks seem impossible. How should operators & attractions proceed now? What exactly can they do to prepare for the future? The good news is that there are opportunities and possibilities that will enable you to prepare for all eventualities.

  In this article we’ve outlined the most important features that will help you ensure that your business runs as smoothly as possible and that you can react flexibly to any situation, so that Christmas 2020 will be a success one afterall. 


What can you expect in the coming weeks?

In order to recognise the opportunities created by this crisis, you must look at the realistic scenarios for the coming weeks and also keep an eye on the worst-case scenario. This will give you an important overview of which opportunities tour and activity operators now have and how they can generate more bookings and sales. Experiences from the first lockdown are particularly helpful here. So what exactly can be expected for the next few weeks?

  1. Lockdowns – whether regional or national – will continue to occupy the leisure industry. The lifting and reintroduction of lockdown measures will most likely alternate again and again. This presents operators with major challenges. Flexibility and automated solutions will be the be-all and end-all here to provide customers with the greatest possible booking security. 
  2. The restrictions will not be significantly reduced even during the Christmas season. This means that tours and activities can only take place to a limited extent even in December. Sales must therefore definitely be generated differently. 
  3. Families plan to travel less over the holidays than in other years, as international travel in particular remains restricted or completely excluded. In many cases this leaves more budget for gifts, especially those that can be easily shipped worldwide. 
  4. People will look for opportunities to enjoy themselves in their immediate surroundings. Not only during Christmas itself, but also well into 2021, people will be thinking more regionally than internationally when it comes to travel. 
  5. Customers will be looking for creative gift ideas to create shared experiences. Especially after such a long period of time, when families and friends could not meet regularly or at all. 
  6. Throughout 2020, a greater willingness on the part of customers to support local businesses can be seen. 


These are your chances!

The expectations for the next few weeks mentioned so far already show very well where exactly the opportunities lie and which possibilities the leisure industry should now focus on. 

  1. Small events and small groups: Large celebrations will still not be possible at Christmas. If the festivities are relaxed, smaller events could take place again. This means that team events are more likely to take place than entire company celebrations. Small teams will be looking for options to do something together. We have summarised this scenario in detail in this blog post. This advantage can still be used next year, 
  2. Online shopping: Aside from the high stress that accompanies Christmas shopping on any average year, customers will largely want to avoid overcrowded shopping centres this year. So shopping will take place primarily online. This is your chance to make sure your tour, activity, experience or attraction can be found online quickly and easily. This can be achieved above all through strong partner networks and a well-planned website conversion
  3. No shipping: The high number of online purchases expected this year will also ultimately lead to an increased need for shipping of goods. This presents eCommerce suppliers with major challenges and the question remains as to how reliably gifts will arrive by Christmas. As a result, the popularity of gifts that can be purchased online and can be sent online or printed out in the near future is growing. Vouchers in particular are becoming the perfect solution this year. 
  4. Vouchers: The gift that has gone from generally being perceived as “impersonal” to “highly thoughtful” in a short timespan. They are directly available and can be redeemed flexibly – perfect for online purchases. In 2019 they were the second most popular Christmas gift after books at 20% of all gifts bought. In 2020, this is expected to double at least! The advantages for you as an operator are obvious: you continue generating sales & immediate revenue, and even during the lockdown people buy vouchers as gifts to do something together with friends and family next year at the latest. 20% of all vouchers are never even redeemed! In this case you save the value added tax, so it’s really a no-brainer. 


Which functions and features are important now?

To make the most of these opportunities, it is important to focus on the right functions and features and to start making all the necessary settings as soon as possible. 

1. Vouchers and availability

Vouchers remain the most important sales guarantee in the current situation. They can still make the Christmas season a success for your company. To get the most out of sales, you should highlight the relevant offers and the voucher option clearly on your home page. In addition, you can artificially reduce the number of vouchers or limit the period for certain actions. For example, you can offer discounts for the purchase of several vouchers. In this way you create an additional incentive for your customers to buy. Afterwards you can still adjust or extend corresponding campaigns. 

Even if you limit the campaign period, make sure that your booking availabilities are extended as much as possible. This means that your customers can book your offers as far into the next year or beyond. This creates trust with your customers, as it makes a complete cancellation unlikely. 

Alternatively, you can also create value vouchers for your experiences. This gives your customers even more freedom of choice and makes a purchase more realistic. So don’t wait any longer and create vouchers today.   

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2. Email campaigns: customer contact

No matter what type of voucher you choose or whether you already want to focus on Easter experiences for 2021, you should communicate everything you do openly to your customers. A first basic step is to contact your existing customers. With the bookingkit Email Campaign Manager you have the possibility to contact all your existing customers at once – completely GDPR-compliant. You can design your email individually for every occasion and select target groups by language. We recommend that you personalize your email campaigns, text and subject as much as possible. Use direct “calls-to-action” and emojis to increase attention. You can find out how to use the Email Campaign Manager here. 

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3. Automated cancellation management

The last weeks and months have shown that it can quickly happen that bookings for tours, activities, experiences and attractions have to be cancelled – and in the worst case, in large numbers at the same time. With a good booking system, cancellations are managed automatically. Via email you can send your customers a cancellation notice and a link in the email will take the cancellation and forward it to your booking system. You can always decide manually from case to case or let the system decide automatically whether the cancellation is accepted and in what form. 

Possible options result from your contract conditions and include e.g. cancellation with refund, with partial refund or without refund. Especially in this situation, we recommend that you rely above all on the conversion into vouchers or the rebooking to alternative dates. That way you will not lose a customer. 

If the customer decides to get a refund, it is important that your booking system has an automatic payment reversal system and takes care of all payment modalities – without your manual intervention. In this way you avoid costly booking errors and always keep an overview. In our guide you can learn more about how to deal with mass cancellations.

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4. Capacity Management

Covid-19 restrictions have taught us that the key is no longer to increase capacity, but to manage capacity most effectively. How can you ensure continuous visits to your attraction or leisure experience without violating requirements and regulations? And how do you guarantee accurate reporting on your capacities at any given time? Two functions help you to ensure all this at once. Intelligent participant lists show you exactly who has taken part in your activity for each day and for each experience. In this article we will describe in more detail how you generate these lists.

Also use timed tickets to ensure that capacities are maintained in advance. This feature allows you to offer your customers the choice of a specific time slot before they buy, rather than having to ensure that the maximum number of participants is maintained for each individual experience. This allows you to concentrate fully on your business and your experiences, and you can run the risk of violating current regulations. 

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5. Additional products

In order to boost your voucher sales and make waiting to enjoy your experience a bit more palatable, additional products are your way to go. They allow you to automatically add products to your experiences that complement the activity itself, or which go in a completely different direction, and bring a taste of your experience directly into your customers’ living rooms. As in our example, customers of a cooking school receive cooking aprons with their course. This not only increases your sales per experience booking. This feature ensures that your customers can take something of their experience home with them and have a long-lasting souvenir of the experience. This increases the likelihood of a repeat booking as well. Whether umbrellas for the city tour, climbing equipment or a souvenir photo of the experience, there are countless ways for any tour or activity provider to sell additional products. 

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Another example is the Escape Game Christmas calendar, which is an alternative to the actual experience and makes the pre-Christmas period even more exciting.

Mehr Buchungen an Weihnachten trotz Corona Weihnachtskalender

You can also offer small gifts for your customers in the checkout. For example, how about a toy bus for every purchase of vouchers for your bus tour or a small model of your attraction? This way, vouchers can be accompanied by a physical product to take up some more space under the Christmas tree.

If you would like to learn more about the various functions and features of bookingkit, then get a free demo today to find out how we can help you. Let’s continue making the most of 2020 together!


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Christian Blume
Christian is Online Marketing Manager at bookingkit and writes about trends and tips for tour and leisure experience providers. In his spare time he loves to travel and discover new exciting places with his camera.


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