The Search for the Right Online Booking System
Jun 11, 2015
You want to provide your customers with the best online booking experience. You also want to run your own business as effectively as possible, ensuring you capture a significant share of the expanding online market. With these two goals in mind, you need to be sure you’re partnering with the most suitable company and system. The following tips may help you decide what’s right for you:
Easy to Navigate?
No one likes pulling their hair out trying to navigate a website. Just a few, simple steps to make a booking, buy a voucher or shop for an item online will bring customers and clients back to your website time and time again. The booking software supplier you decide on should take care of the technology seamlessly, be reliable, look good, and leave you to focus on your core business.
Behind the scenes, you’ll be doing some set up and maintenance of the online system to ensure you’re products and services and pricing are up to date. You’ll also need to access client details quickly and easily, often whilst on the go. An intuitive, easy to use, mobile friendly interface is arguably the number one “must have” feature of any online booking system. Trialling a system simply to see how the back end works is always beneficial.
It’s unlikely that any one online booking system can give you every feature you would like. However, it should be as close to ideal as possible. Do you have a multi-faceted business? A large number of tourism businesses around Australia now need an online booking system that can handle tours or other scheduled activities, accommodation and gift voucher sales. Do you want to create packages that combine your business offerings? Would you like to be able to run reports, export customer data or allow for a range of online payment methods? Careful consideration regarding your requirements will help you decide on the most suitable system. Compiling a list of ‘must have’ features will help you eliminate online booking systems that are not suitable and identify systems that might be a good fit. You can also have a ‘wish list’ or ‘nice to have’ features. Suggest prioritising your requirements so you can check them off more easily.
Can you list ways in which the online booking system will benefit your business? For example, will it:
- Streamline processes and save you time
- Help capture new business
- Provide marketing tools
- Increase Revenue
- Decrease Overheads
- Enhance your online presence
- Report on strengths and weaknesses
- Integrate with other systems
There will always be times when you just want to pick up the phone and talk to someone. Perhaps you’re struggling to understand a new feature or maybe you’ve just forgotten how to make a simple update. System support is a deal breaker for some businesses, and rightly so. Investigating the type of support an online booking system will give you before you get started, can save frustration and disappointment later. Is email support enough? Do you require on-site support?
Choices and flexibility are good. Some businesses don’t require all of the features that an online booking system offers. Enabling the features or modules you require and disabling the ones you don’t need can simplify processes and reduce costs.
How much does it all cost and will you be locked into an ongoing contract? Keeping business expenses to a minimum means improved cash flow and higher profits. The good news is that online booking systems are not expensive. Plus, the benefits a good online booking system will have on your business will quickly offset any set up or ongoing charges you may incur. A fair price is an important factor when choosing the software solution but it is not the overwhelming decider. Features and benefits should be the main focus as well as usability and service and support.
You should investigate the company you are looking at storing your private and sensitive business data with. Some questions you could ask:
- How is the data backed up, eg. daily, off site, encrypted etc?
- Who has access to my data?
- Where is the data?
- How long has the company been in business?
- Has the company ever had any issues with online fraud? If yes, what have they learned?
- Do they offer customisation for your needs?
- What if I want to leave, how do I get my information?
- Does the company have an environmental policy?
If you are in need of a business management system for your tourism company and you get answers to the previous questions and trial some systems then you are putting yourself in a good position to make the right choice.
Netbookings Sales Team