We get many questions from tourism operators with regards to online booking systems, such as:
- Which one do you recommend?
- Does this one integrate with my reservation system?
- Is it ATDW/TXA friendly?
- Will it allow me to integrate with Google Analytics?
- When do I get paid by the booking system provider?
The Tourism Ekit provides a solid base and reviews over 40 systems but it doesn’t (yet?) include a full review of each of the features of online booking systems.
This article lists and review some of the new (and not so new) features that distinguish a good from a great online booking system.
Design and look and feel
Control the look and feel of your system
Does your online booking system allow you to control the look and feel of the online booking component, are you stuck with a standard template or require the services of a web developer to tailor the system to your customer needs and brands?
Integration with your content management system
A feature we love is when online booking system providers make the job of tourism businesses much simpler. The folks at Rezgo have done exactly that with their WordPress plugin. They have developed a little application that is free to use and allows to mirror your online inventory into your website directly. No need to reinvent the wheel and upload your description both on your website and on your online booking system.
Customer Relationship Management System (CRM)
A nifty feature that has started to appear over the past few years is the access to a CRM within your online booking system. Some systems offer it, some systems integrate with major CRM systems and some don’t. Is this a feature you require?
And one of the most important features: how mobile-friendly is your online booking system? Is there a special layout or even application available to those customers wanting to make a booking from their smartphone? What about for you, the business owner or manager, can you easily check your bookings and assign rooms using a smartphone app when you are out of the office? GuestPoint have got both an iPhone booking app and an iPhone management app integrated to their software.
Does the system support upselling with optional extras
Can your guests buy a champagne breakfast in addition to booking their room? What about if they want to make their decision closer to their arrival date, can they update their booking online?
Email marketing integration with key systems or solid email marketing capabilities
Keeping contact with your past guests is so important. Does your system offer an email marketing functionality or – even better – does it integrate with key systems such as MailChimp.com?
Support for different currencies
This one is rather self-explanatory. Can your customers pay in their own currency? Systems such as Rezdy offer this as part of their core features
Does your system allow trusted partners to login and access your point of sale? For instance, can concierges log into your system to make bookings?
Imagine being able to send your clients who haven’t booked in say over 12 months a special promo code (you would do so using email marketing). Does your system allow you to redeem promo codes?
Does your system seamlessly integrate with Facebook to allow your likers to buy from Facebook? Have a look at what the Booking Button has setup.
Support via live chat, web based
How can you get support from your online booking system provider? is it on the phone? do they have a database for you to look at? even better, do they have LiveChat?
How is the original training provided to you? Can you use a test site? Will you be given one on one training? Do they have videos to support it?
With loading speed being crucial for both yourself and your clients, it is important to consider where your system is hosted. Does it reside on your computer? Is it in the cloud? or a combination of both? Systems such as GuestPoint allow you to use a combination of local and cloud hosting that seems to offer the best of both worlds!
Last but not least: how and when will you get paid? Does the money go directly in your bank or is it held by the online booking system company? If so, when will it reach your bank account?
If you have an online booking system and are not sure it supports such functionalities, why not give them a call? Many of them offer variations of the above options.
Are there other features that make your operations much easier?