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Top 6 features the right booking system should have in 2023 for tour and activity operators [+ free guide]

The Bókun Team • January 13, 2023

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A recent study published by Facts and Factors shows that the global online travel booking market size and its share of revenue were valued at nearly $782 Million in 2020. By 2028 it’s expected to grow to an impressive $2,000 Million, which means that the market demand is higher than ever.

The popularity of online booking management systems came to rise due to the increased availability of technology and the rapid growth in usage of mobile applications, which completely transformed the way travellers book experiences and activities. We want everything available at our fingertips.

Finding the best tour operator software can completely change the way your travel business operates and grows. It can easily save you vital time by streamlining processes allowing you to focus on what matters most: providing the best experiences for your customers and generating more revenue for your business.

We know that great tour booking systems are at the heart of every successful travel business. With tourism making such a comeback in 2022, the question now is, does your company have the essential technology to meet the market demands and stay ahead of the competition?

Considering the current economic climate, travellers will continue to prioritise travel in 2023, but they will be more mindful of how they can get the most of their travel budget and what exactly is a priority as part of their travel itinerary.

50% of travellers say that investing in a holiday remains a top priority for them and 68% continue to prioritise travel while seeking to get more value for money. In 2023 the pressure is still on travel companies that may not be ready for an influx in online bookings and managing the customer experience.

It’s true that the travel market can be highly competitive, and tour operators need to stay on top of their game in order to succeed. One way to do this is by using digital tools and software products that can help streamline operations, improve efficiency, and enhance the customer experience. By investing in the right technology, tour operators can beat the competition and continue to effectively grow their businesses.

So how do you know which online booking management system is the right one for your tour business? Here are six key features a booking software should have in 2023:

Responsive and user-friendly

Your online booking management system should be easy to understand and navigate, whether you’re a one-man business or a large enterprise. A user-friendly solution that is easy to navigate is even easier to incorporate into your existing business operations. It should also be mobile optimised to help you have access to those essential tools when on-the-go.

It’s important for tour operators to choose an online booking management system that makes the entire booking process as smooth as possible for travellers. Your booking system should not add additional steps or overly complicate the customer journey, but rather provide an easy and seamless experience from start to finish. This includes everything from the moment a customer lands on the website to when they convert.

By making the booking process as convenient as possible, tour operators can help ensure that customers have a positive experience and are more likely to book with them again in the future.

Tip: Make sure you understand the customer journey and identify any potential inconveniences or areas for improvement. This can help ensure that the software provides a smooth and seamless process for your travellers.

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Tools management and integrations

One of the key purposes of an online booking management is to improve the customer journey and make your life as a tour and activity operator much simpler. How? By effectively automating manual tasks and streamlining management functions, making them faster and more efficient.

When choosing your tour operator software, it’s important to consider how it fits into your existing workflow and whether it integrates with other tools you already use.

This makes it a lot easier to transfer and communicate data between each platform and you will be able to gain meaningful insights so you can make more informed decisions.

The more customisable your software solution is, the better. Bókun connects with a wide range of different tools aimed at making your business grow, such as: Slack, Google Calendar, Account Systems (such as Regla and DK) or even Digital Waivers and Resource Management (such as Paxflow and WayOp).

Bókun can easily automate your processes so you increase efficiency in your operations:

  • Automatic communication with your customers – instant confirmations, reminders, etc.
  • The Bókun Mobile app – your on-the-go portal allowing your team in the field to see departures, pick-ups and scan tickets.
  • Real-time availability – never miss a beat again. Manage and keep track of your inventory at a single glance with Bókun serving as the master source of information.
  • Payment Links – receive payments faster and easier when it comes to offline bookings.
  • Abandoned Cart Messages – turn abandoned checkouts into bookings. Seal the deal and boost online sales with Bókun’s Automated Message trigger for abandoned carts.

Online booking - is your website bookable 24/7?

Your website is the most essential part of your online presence. It’s how you present your business to potential customers. So it’s very important that your website is as good as it can possibly be.

With the right online booking management system you will have access to a variety of booking widgets to help you provide a seamless booking experience and sell more. The core feature of an efficient booking tool is to ensure the online process has clear paths. You will need visible call-to-action (CTA) buttons.

From capturing online reservations to directly communicating with your travellers, widgets can allow you to effectively review the data from your website and bookings received so you can understand your audience better.

Ideally you want to choose a platform that offers customisable booking widgets that can merge smoothly with your existing website. This shouldn’t be too complicated and shouldn’t require any coding either.

Bókun’s Booking Widgets are the easiest way to make any website instantly bookable. If you have a website but can’t take bookings online, this could help you capture bookings 24/7. Choose from several different options like booking buttons, product lists and booking calendars, easily generate the embed code and add it to your website.

The ability to unlock new revenue streams

Another key feature you will be wanting in your booking system is the ability to increase your revenue by upselling and cross-selling. The average increase in revenue reported by operators when they began implementing up-selling and cross-selling is between 10% to 30% .

You will want a booking system that can connect with other travel partners so you can be both a supplier and a reseller. Think about it this way: you can choose to offer your products up for others to sell or find complimentary products to offer alongside your current ones. You’ll be unlocking new revenue streams and providing tailored experiences to your customers. The more organisations seek to sell your tours, the more tours you’re going to sell.

With Bókun’s largest B2B Marketplace you can easily connect to thousands of partners, such as: Musement, HotelBeds, Civitatis, Klook (and many more) that are hungry to sell tours and activities like yours. That means you will increase distribution and capitalise on your traffic by selling additional combo products on your website for a commission. Bókun’s Marketplace also enables smooth communication with your chosen partners so that you can easily work out contract details and start selling straight away.

And let’s not forget about OTAs. Trust is more critical now than ever: People are more likely to shop through channels they’re more familiar with and already know. OTAs receive high amounts of daily visitors from around the world so it’s vital for your booking software to easily integrate with numerous OTAs.

With Bókun you can connect and sell on all major Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), such as GetYourGuide, Tripadvisor, Expedia, Viator and many more. And exclusive to Bókun, we give 4 free Viator Product Reviews a month so you can save up to $116 and grow your bookings quicker.

Choose the best tour and activity operator software in 2023

Real-time availability and inventory management

A reservation system isn’t only about adding an online booking function. You get to automate all booking-related tasks to run in the background and instead focus on providing the best customer experience.

Show up-to-date availability and instant pricing, ask for information on the booking form, handle cancellations, booking or tour changes and set up automatic confirmations. Even the payments can be processed or recorded down for any follow-up, and save you lots of administrative headaches.

It’s important to be consistent everywhere. With Bókun’s Channel Manager, you can distribute up-to-date inventory across multiple onlin e sales channels automatically. Instead of logging on to every single channel to make changes, you update the product information on a single portal in Bókun and distribute the changes everywhere in real-time. This way, just like customers from any other channels, your website visitors can access accurate availability and not be disappointed with sold-out seats.

Streamline dashboard for reporting

All your guest bookings and data should be easily available in your own dashboard in real-time. Ditch the spreadsheets with the right online booking management system and have smoothly synced data that will enable you to make better informed decisions.

Whether you want to gather details about guests’ allergies or assign staff members or access your daily manifest or produce in-depth reports about where, when, and how your guests are booking, your chosen online booking software should have the capabilities of capturing and generating the essential data you need to make your business powerful.

That’s where Bókun comes in handy. You are able to easily see how well your business is doing. We have a wide array of powerful reports so you can track booking revenue, which channels are performing the best and which products are your top sellers.

Do I really need a reservation system?

The short answer is YES! As more and more customers are shopping and booking online, not having a reservation system means you will lose out on a huge part of the business and revenue.

Looking at the way technology is shaping the world, in just a few years online booking management systems have changed how tour and activity operators are accepting, managing and maximising bookings. Not to mention that booking softwares have saved thousands of admin hours for all operators, enabling them to focus on what matters most: the customer experience.

Remember: The key purpose of an online booking system is to help you capture new demand with the ultimate objective of bringing more bookings for your tour business. Here are some of our favourite advantages of having a reservation system:

  • Streamline operation processes to make your life easier and reduce admin work.
  • Deliver fantastic user experience for all your travellers.
  • Meet your guests where they’re currently booking and capture the demand effortlessly.
  • Start building new revenue streams by connecting to numerous new partners.
  • Understand how your business is performing so that you know what improvements need to be made to drive more bookings.

top features in a tour operator software

 Investing in the right booking system is not an easy job, but once you have, it will make the world of difference. You will be able to reduce the amount of time you spend in the office dealing with admin tasks. Beyond that, you give your business the opportunity to grow.

Res tech provides advanced tools that you would not otherwise have access to as a tour and activity operator. Regardless of the stage your tour business is, the team at Bókun is able to offer support and help to all operators.

The Bókun solution

Bókun has been specifically designed to help you generate more bookings, boost revenue and drive growth. Want to learn more on the benefits of having an online booking management system? Explore our article on what is a reservation system and why do you need one.

In the meantime, make sure you choose a comprehensive tour operator software solution that ticks all of the above boxes. And why not give Bókun a try to discover firsthand how impactful it can be for you as a tour operator, and for your business.

Start a FREE 14-day trial today and start building a stronger business in 2023.