February 7, 2022
If you're like most independent tour owners and operators, you take advantage of 21st-century marketing to get your message out there to as many consumers as possible, which makes perfect sense. But the benefits of using modern technology go beyond marketing — tour reservation software is essential for those seeking to free up their team's time by streamlining the booking process. All reservation software isn't created equal, however, and it's important that you choose the one that best suits the unique needs of your business. Finding the right software involves the following steps.
Identifying and clarifying specific business goals makes selecting the right software easier. For instance, perhaps you want to increase your overall online visibility by reaching a larger consumer base, or maybe your primary goal is to minimize front-office tasks and decrease telephone communication with potential customers. Other possibilities include providing a convenient range of payment options, automating upselling, and having the ability to provide consumers with promo codes. Tour booking software also allows you to manage easily manage your business from a mobile device, freeing you from being tied to the office, so you'll need software with mobile compatibility.
If you're hoping to expand to the global marketplace and attract visitors from other countries, software with a multilingual interface removes the language barriers faced by many international travelers when booking tours. If you're considering joining forces with other tour operators, you'll want to find booking software that features a channel manager.
After you've thoroughly evaluated your business goals, it's time to prepare a checklist that will act as a guide when it comes to selecting reservation software. Once your checklist is complete, use it as the basis for devising a series of questions designed to narrow down your choices when exploring various options. It may be helpful to divide the questions into the following categories.
Questions specific to booking engine functionality might include whether the service provides real-time access to bookings and whether the service is user-friendly enough to allow consumers to have a seamless experience. Keep in mind that no matter how good the software is otherwise, if customers find it cumbersome to use, it's likely that you'll lose some reservations.
Questions in this category should speak to operational features such as whether the software is optimized for mobile devices and whether it has the capability to generate sales reports. You will definitely want to investigate the overall ease of use for back-end tasks.
Questions in this category should focus on the integration features that you've identified during the evaluation phase. For instance, if you've decided that attracting more international customers is one of your top priorities, you need to ask whether the software offers a multilingual interface.
Questions in this category need to be specific to what type of customer support is offered by the company. For instance, does the company provide onboarding support for tour operators and their staff, and are they available after the onboarding process is complete?
If you plan to offer promotions such as discount codes and gift cards, you'll want to select a software service with significant promotional options.
Once you've narrowed down the available options to those with the capabilities that you've identified as being most important for your business, it's time to evaluate the various contenders on your shortlist in real-time. Here's how to do it.
Fellow tour operators with similar needs and preferences to yours are a great place to start the real-time evaluation phase of seeking the best software solution. Targeted social media groups provide a venue for connecting with others.
A simple Google search will lead you to dozens of software review sites where you can read about others' perspectives and experiences concerning the software services on your shortlist. These sites typically offer the option of asking questions of other users, so don't be afraid to jump in with specific questions.
Testing the software on existing sites provides a firsthand look into the type of consumer experience you can expect, and ask several team members to test them as well to gain a general consensus. You can source these customers directly from the providers' websites.
By now, you should have narrowed down your search to two or three providers. The final step in selecting the right one is to request a customized demo from each provider. Their sales reps should be happy to provide you with a customized demo and help you with any questions you may have during the evaluation process. As you are evaluating the software, keep your checklist handy to ensure that the software supports your goals.
As you evaluate the software, be mindful that you'll want to select software with the ability to increase in scope as your business grows. Software is a long-term partnership, and limitations in scale may result in having to change reservation systems
By now you will have made the decision on which tour software to use, so it's time for you and your staff to get ready for the onboarding process. To get the most from onboarding, make sure to set aside a period of time with as few distractions as possible so that everyone involved can give it their full attention.
Our tour booking software is designed to provide consumers with a seamless booking experience and to minimize the amount of back-office tasks for the tour operator. Please contact us for more information on how our tour booking software can streamline your booking process and lighten the workload for you and your team. Our staff is standing by to walk you through the onboarding process and to provide detailed answers to any questions you may have.