The Internet is here to stay, and many tourism companies took their first leap into it with a Website. Now, many of them go a step further using the Web not only as a means of advertising and promotion, but as an active business platform.
The best thing about the Internet is that it is democratic, it makes no distinction between small and medium companies: the humblest Bed and Breakfast can have today as much presence and notoriety on the Web as the most fabulous 5-star hotels.
If your tourism products and services are bookable, whether they are yacht charters, rental cars, excursions, or the rooms of a hotel chain, they can be distributed through a Booking Engine. If you have ever wondered why so many travel companies are interested in having an online booking system on their website, here are a few good reasons for this:
Open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to receive bookings.
Many customers browse the Internet outside of regular business hours or from different time zones and are more likely to wish to confirm their booking instantly instead of postponing it or remembering to do it the next day.
Statistics show that more and more bookings are made during the night or rest hours of the buyer. First, many companies now monitor and control the Internet access in the workplace, and secondly, almost all households today have an Internet connection.
An online booking system allows you to receive bookings 24 hours a day; therefore, service is always available.
Whether you are paying for direct advertising or a commission per booking through third-party portals, in any case, you are allocating a part of your income to these intermediaries. If you have your own online booking system on your website, you suppress intermediaries. Another important point when using commissioned portals is that your company promotes them as much as they promote you, and with your online booking platform, you could focus all your communications on promoting your own business.
Simply, good customer service.
When we talk about Booking Engines, we are not talking about a contact form. A form does not enable your customers to clearly view your products’ availability, nor does it allow them to search different products (of your own or even from external suppliers), make their bookings directly or pay and get confirmation automatically (at the very least, since there are many more possible functionalities).
A proper online booking system must, at least, be able to perform these tasks, as they are essential to provide good customer service.
Minimise your workload.
Are you still managing your business manually? A good online distribution platform automates all booking aspects. It should at least do the following:
– Ensure that bookings can only be received when there is availability, keeping inventories up-to-date.
– Obtain all the information required during the booking process so as not to waste time and make the process more complex by requesting ex-post extra information.
– Send automatic e-mails with booking confirmations.
– Automatically update availability when the booking has been processed.
A booking system must perform at least these functions.
Not only large companies are entitled to this possibility. When a customer is booking any online tourism product, it is very common to offer them extra options to complement their purchase. It can be a basic welcome purchase for apartment rentals, or a GPS system for car rental companies. Your booking system should allow to easily add complementary offers to propose to your customers, in order to differentiate yourself and provide a better service.
Discount codes are an excellent way to promote your business, for example in the low season, when bookings decrease, or few allotments are left to be sold out. Make sure your Booking Engine can accept promotion or discount codes.
Secure online payments:
To avoid barriers, the system integrates a multicurrency automatic-payment system if you work internationally. This helps you reduce even more the manual workload and provide your customers with an easy and secure way to book and pay for their bookings.
Obviously, there are many more advantages; this is just a sample. They seem more than powerful reasons to go ahead, rather than succumbing to inefficiency, which will lead your tourism business to stay behind.