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12 steps to select the right Online Booking System for your business

In this very popular article we examine the steps to selecting the right booking system for your tourism business so you choose the right tool for your needs.
First published on November 6, 2015
Last updated on August 20, 2021

If you are considering an Online Booking system or are considering changing yours, then this blog article is for you!

Why do I need an Online booking System?

I could spend half of this blog quoting statistics that would convince you need an Online Booking System. One of the key reason you need a booking system for your tourism business is that consumer behaviour indicates that if you don’t have a booking system where travellers can check availability, price and book on their own terms, you will loose business.
Let me put it another way. If you have invested in building a great website, developed great content, imagery and video and you’ve managed to get your site ranking high by effective SEO, why on earth would you risk losing business by not offering online booking capability?   Surprisingly, many businesses do and I think I know a few of the reasons why.

6 reasons why tourism businesses may not use a booking system

  • Management is stil not convinced that “their” customers use online bookings
  • The business simply hasn’t had the time to get it done
  • Owners are apprehensive about using a new technology (it’s not that new! I would consider it ‘old’) especially when it involves financial transactions
  • Businesses are overwhelmed by the number of options available and which one is for them
  • The owners have been put off by overzealous sales agents
  • Finally, management is convinced that if someone really wants their service they will call or email
If you fit in one of these categories then this blog article is for you!

You have two options when it comes to choosing and implementing a booking ssytem for your tourism business: you can do it yourself or outsource to a professional.

Like most things it’s easier but more expensive to outsource and the Tribe can assist but. However,

If you want or need to do it yourself here are some tips!

  • Assign some time to get this done, set a goal and deadline
  • Price: online booking capability will cost you money, but so does manually handling bookings
  • Add all the things you want the system to do to a list
  • Try and try again, you’re not committed to an existing system for life, if it isn’t working change
  • Have a plan
  • Your responsibility – yes it’s yours
The biggest threat to success is APATHY 

Here are my simple steps to success

  1. Write down a list of all the things you need your booking system to do
  2. Record where your bookings are coming from and what they are costing you in terms of fees and commissions
  3. Do your own research, look at competitors websites, play consumer and see how easy it is to book using a particular system
  4. Talk to your local Visitor Information Centre, Regional Tourism Organisation and State Tourism Organisation, find our if they have any alliances or policies that might impact your decision
  5. Read the articles about online distribution
  6. Conduct the process like a new employee, shortlist your tourism booking systems to 3 and then do more research, call an operator whose using it and ask them what they think
  7. Check out the support provided by the booking system, is it all online, do they have a help desk, do their times suit you?
  8. Take the plunge, make a decision on a Booking System and set a deadline
  9. Set the changeover from manual to online bookings at an “off peak season” to minimise the stress on you!
  10. If you are nervous, move one room or tour to online bookings and test the system and your market, but remember to put a note on your website that there may be other rooms available if they call.
  11. Carefully read the contract you sign with a vendor and don’t sign a “forever contract”
  12. Review your decision every year to make sure that a new system won’t suit you better.
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