Changing one booking software for another may a priori appear as a torture scenario for most of us. We know that change for the better is necessary, but there always comes a moment when we think: “… well, maybe we could continue with what we have… even if it is worse, it is OK to get by…”
Here are some things that you should consider before taking the step, to make sure that your new provider will correctly manage this change whether you are an OTA, hotel chain, tour operator, DMC or bedbank.
Will they help me configure the new system?
The configuration of an online solution can differ from one to another, depending on the modules it contains. This stage is crucial, for example, for a hotel, since it is about the complete mapping of a property with all its price specifications, room features and Booking Engine customisations. Once operating and connected to all the online travel agencies (OTAs), it is quite difficult to go back and change some configurations. It is essential to have a team of experts to help you during the installation and launching of the new system. Watch out! The provider sometimes loads the adjustments; check how many hours this work will cost you.
Will my staff receive training on the new system?
Training is increasingly performed remotely through Skype, for example, giving you the freedom to be trained from the place you wish (at home, on the beach, in the train or at the reception), for as long as you wish in front of the computer. If training is not included, you must ensure that the product is perfectly explained by itself, because if it is not, you will have to train the team on your own, with the work and extra time that this implies. Only some large providers offer on-site training service. Remember to ask if it involves an extra cost.
How do I know that my new online solution is compatible with my hardware?
If it is an internet-based solution, the first good news is that it does not require installation. Secondly, the platform will probably be available on any device (laptop, tablet, smartphone) if it is web-based. But you could also take the opportunity to wonder if it may be time to replace your hardware.
Will my data be imported?
Hopefully! But first, are you sure that your current system allows you to export all the data and do you know in what format? The cleaner your initial export, the better its new import will be. In general, good applications accept all types of formats, such as csv, json, xml or txt, and import for free. If they charge you for that, it is very likely that they will charge you for any nonsense. Having the data imported is essential, if you want to make a change without problems and save you years of data reporting. If the import is impossible and you must enter the bookings manually for a whole year, always look on the positive side… you will save training time.
Will I receive after-sales support?
There are different levels of support for SaaS (Software as a Service). They range from basic support by e-mail during business hours, to 24/7 telephone support handled by experts. Once you have performed the configuration, training and import, you will surely have more questions and even some obstacles to start the journey. Make sure you have a helpline in case of an emergency, or enough help documentation available. And it is always better to have someone on the other line who knows what you are talking about, someone who probably has been in your place before. The best thing is to be directly in touch with your assigned product manager.
Does the platform include several payment methods?
Give your customers the option to pay as they wish. Make sure that your new provider’s platform offers different types of payment like bank transfers, payment gateways, VCC and credit cards and, if your market covers more than one country, the possibility of making multi-currency changes.
Although, at first, it may seem scary, changing your online technology travel provider should not be a torment. Remember when you had to change your Nokia for your new smartphone? You survived, right?
Before purchasing any online product or solution, ask yourself these questions and answer them with sincerity. It is depressing to invest in something and afterwards verify that it was not the best option for your company. It will have been a waste of time and money for both you and your provider.