The 10 “must-have” features of an online booking system

Booking system, Industry news, Tips  Frank Scheibe

Whether you offer cookery courses, quad-bike tours or Exit-Games, you will certainly want to make the online booking process as innovative and easy for your customers as possible.

Why? Because customers nowadays are used to bookings hotels with their Smartphones, reserving tables in restaurants and buying tickets for concerts online with very few clicks – whether from home, on their laptop or on the move. And they also expect this option for leisure activities. This is where an online booking system comes into play.

In choosing suitable booking software, however, there are a few things that you really need to think about. Because a good booking tool should not just offer functions which make life easier for your customer, but also some which relieve you of tedious and time-consuming jobs.

So to help you a bit more, we have listed the 10 must-have features which you definitely should take into account in choosing your online booking system:

1. Online bookings in real time.

One of the greatest benefits of a booking solution is that customers no longer have to first make enquiries and then wait for your response, and you don’t have to process these enquiries manually. Instead, your customers will be able to see all the available dates directly, and make a booking. If there is no further availability on one date, this will be blocked in real time to prevent further bookings, without you having to lift a finger!

2. Various currencies and languages

Most organisers of leisure activities also want to reach international customers. So it is really important for them to have the opportunity to book at least in English and in the best case scenario in their own language, and to pay in their own currency. Ultimately there is a risk that if a customer cannot understand what or how he can book because of a language barrier, he will simply book with a competitor. Ideally, the online booking system will detect which language and currency should be used from the customer’s IP address.

3. Voucher generation and management via the online booking system.

For many reasons, voucher are extremely important for business. These include not only gift vouchers which can be purchased, but also special promotions which have a stimulating effect on the marketing of your experiences. Whatever kind of vouchers you use, it should be possible for them to be generated and managed efficiently in a clearly understandable way in the booking system. It should also be possible for vouchers from external voucher portals such as Groupon to be entered, so that your customers can redeem them themselves during online booking.

Discover 15 tips to help you sell vouchers online here.

4. Payment via PayPal

PayPal is a secure and simple way of paying online, which is why it is used with increasing frequency. And by users from anywhere in the world. It proves that you value your customer’s security and privacy, which creates trust. At the same time, you have the assurance that you will receive guaranteed online payments direct from your customers . PayPal as a payment option should therefore not be missing from any excellent online booking system.

5. Intelligent calendar/diary

An intelligent and easy-to-understand booking or occupancy calendar provides the user with a summary of all bookings, capacity and turnover for the required periods at a glance. This will greatly simplify your resource planning. To avoid unnecessary work, it should also be possible for the booking diary to be synchronised with digital diaries already used, such as Outlook or Gmail.

Check out bookingkit’s sales calendar.

6. Online and telephone support for booking software

Sooner or later, when using software, you always reach a point where you need help from the developers. At those times there is nothing more frustrating than not being able to get the help you expect from the software house, or even help which was promised. Often a detailed Help database is sufficient for you to find the solution to problems connected with bookings, reservations or capacity quickly yourself. But if that’s not the case, you should be able to contact the developer both online and by telephone. One little tip: when you are testing out booking software, test the Support function too!

7. Automated e-mails make management easier

Sending out regular standardised e-mails, such as booking confirmations, reminders of a reservation, cancellations etc. takes up far too much time. It is tedious and tiring work, which should certainly be automated by a booking system. A booking confirmation, for instance, should be sent to the customer immediately after the online booking. This gives the customer certainty that the booking has actually gone through. The booking system should not just send confirmation e-mails to your customers, however, but also offer the option that you are also informed.

8. Booking management via Smartphone and Tablet

People offering outdoor activities in particular do not sit at a PC all day long, but often have to run their businesses on the move via a Smartphone or Tablet. This is why the online booking system should run on a Cloud. Then it will not only be accessible worldwide, but also be automatically updated and maintained.

9. Integration of marketing platforms

In choosing your booking solution, you should ensure that it has integrated various different marketing platforms. These might include, for instance, TripAdvisor, GetYourGuide, EventimGuide, Jollydays, Kochschule.de or Viator. These booking portals increase accessibility for potential new customers and in the best case can also generate a few bookings. It is important that these bookings are automatically synchronised immediately with the booking software. Then you retain full control of quotas, dates and prices.

10. Secure capital management

Of course a good booking tool should offer at least the first nine points listed above, to ensure that your everyday work is made significantly easier. But none of these functions will be any use at all, unless the tenth point is also fulfilled. The most important factor of all is that the solution is provided by a reliable and trustworthy company which picks up your data and capital generated securely. Which includes the fact that in the event of insolvency, your money will be safe. This is possible if your capital is not in fact managed by the company itself at all, but in the best case scenario a trustee account is set up for you with a reliable Bank which itself manages your capital.

Any other questions? Book a demo

Frank Scheibe
Frank is a tours and activities industry expert. He reports on the latest facts, figures and trends in the bookingkit blog and the bookingkit newsletter. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his kids and family, playing sports and eating good food.

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