1. Make bookings 24/7
Most customers surf the Internet for personal use outside of business hours and are more likely to make reservations on the spot than trying to remember to call back the next day, statistics show that more and more bookings today are made online during the evening or at weekends.
If you have no-one taking bookings at the evenings or weekends, then that’s a large percentage of bookings you’re missing out on. Even with an e-mail address, chances are your customer will have found an alternative and booked that online in the time it takes to receive an e-mailed reply.
An Online booking system allows you to receive booking 24 hours a day; therefore, your “booking service” is always open.
2. Commission free
Whether you are paying for direct advertising, or paying a commission for bookings through third party, off-line booking portals, in either case, you are paying a portion of your income from each booking to these sources. If you have an online booking system on your own website, you have then cut out the middleman. Another important point when using commissioned portals is that your business is promoting them as much as they are promoting you instead of focusing on your own brand.
3. Great customer service
Contact forms are not online booking systems. A contact form does not provide your customers with a clear view of your availability. A contact form does not allow your customers to book, pay and receive confirmation automatically.
A good online booking system must, at the least be able to perform these three tasks for great customer service.
4. Reduce your operational load
If you are not using an online booking system, then you will still be processing at least an element of your bookings manually. A good online booking system will handle all aspects of the booking. It must, at a minimum, do the following:
- Automatically ensure that bookings can only be made when you have availability
- Remove any barriers to the booking process by allowing the customer to pay first, and retrieve and add to information later
- Send an automated confirmation email to the booking party, followed by further automated customer service e-mails both prior and after the event
- Automatically update your availability when the booking has been processed
Also a good booking system will integrate with any back end systems to allow you to still take bookings over the phone and via e-mail or third party agents.
5. A structured customer database
A good, integrated online booking system will mean you have all your customer data centralised allowing you to market yourself to all previous customers. This customer database is one of your best-valued resources in a business, and this data should be accessible and structured.
6. Up selling
This is not just the domain of large companies. When booking car rentals or holiday apartments, it’s very common to offer “extras” such as welcome baskets or child car seats.
Your booking system should allow for the easy addition of “extras” such as wrap around child care or transport, so that you offer your customers all your great features and options.
Discount codes are a great way to market your business to existing season ticket holders, or via social networking. Make sure your online booking system can support discount codes.
8. Ease of use
Your online booking system should allow you to manage your availability and content quickly and easily. If you want to add a new course, with images and information, perhaps in multiple languages for overseas markets, this should be something you can readily do with one interface.
9. Online payments
A complete online booking system will offer e-payment integration as standard. This way, you reduce dropout rate further, increase bookings and reduce manual workload even more, all whilst providing your customers with an easy and safe way to book and pay for your offerings
10. Adapting to new technology
Mobile and tablet usage is becoming more widespread, with increasing numbers of potential customers looking for information on the go. A good booking system should be adaptable to mobile and tablet technologies, with mobile optimised sites and apps offering browsing and booking facilities.
There are of course even more advantages, but the above list should at least get you thinking about the benefits of an online booking engine. If you would like to find out more about our AdvanceBooker service please see our online booking systems page.