10 Questions to Ask When Choosing the Best Online Booking System for Your Business

When making the transition to an online booking system, you need to choose a service that’s as robust and accommodating as your company. Software that will not only help your business grow, but also provides a streamlined shopping and checkout process, especially as more travelers turn to the web to make reservations and explore their options. After all, 65 percent of leisure travelers turn to the web early on in the travel process, according to the latest Think with Google data.

But how do you choose the right platform? Ask the following questions when choosing an online booking system for your business:

1. Is the company stable and growing quickly?

Make sure you’re working with a company that will be around for a while so you don’t have to quickly change your booking software, which could mean migrating all of your data, investing in training employees, and wasting time. Use tools like Crunchbase to research the company and find out how much capital they have raised to date, how many employees they have, and what the company history looks like. This type of data can give you a fair idea about where the company is headed and whether they will be able to serve you for years to come.

Questions to Ask:

  • How much capital has this company raised to date?
  • Have they acquired any companies with proprietary technology that has helped them grow?
  • How many employees do they have?

2. Is the checkout flow trustworthy?

You want to do everything you can to ensure customers enjoy a streamlined checkout process—with an easy-to-navigate checkout system—and feel confident about booking online with your company. The landing pages the customer ends up on during the checkout process need to have a professional design and include a logo or information that ensures the site is secure. You need a software program that ensures customers don’t have to go through a lengthy registration process to confirm a booking and aren’t easily-confused at each stage. ShipHawk reports on how many online shoppers abandon shopping carts when the website is too complicated to navigate.

Questions to Ask:

  • Is the registration process streamlined and easy-to-use?
  • Is the checkout process easy to navigate?
  • Are the checkout flow and site mobile-responsive?

3. Is the backend software easy to use for staff?

You also need something that’s easy to implement on the backend—your managers and employees need to be able to pull up reservations with ease, review calendars, schedule promotions, and produce reports with a few clicks. Look for online booking software designed with robust features, such as options to create add-ons to activities in a few clicks, color-coded calendars, and customizable email templates. Work with a company that offers a software program with a professional layout and beautiful design to satisfy the needs of both your customers and your employees.

Questions to Ask:

  • Do you have intelligently designed features, such as color-coded calendars and customizable templates?
  • Is your design mobile-responsive, and will I be able to access the software from any device?
  • Will you help me set up and implement my software within 48 hours, and will my staff have access to 24/7 customer service?

4. What features are included in the calendar?

You spend so much time in your calendar. Using a robust calendar with features designed to handle all types of activities and levels of complexity is a must for your business. Make sure the system you use provides plenty of options for all types of tours and activities businesses—including rentals, equipment, and resource management—so you can use it to manage all aspects of your business. Look for features such as filtering options, multiple views, blackout date capabilities, and last-minute booking features to handle call-ins and walk-ins with ease. Take a look at these must-have features for every online booking calendar.

Questions to Ask:

  • Does the calendar have multiple view options – by day, week, month and by tour, activity, or rental?
  • Will it be easy for me to customize and set blackout dates?
  • Does the calendar come with filtering capabilities that allow you to quickly manage different activities and rentals?

5. Does this company have a large client base?

Many companies that create booking systems for tours and operators only serve a few dozen or so clients. This means they cannot handle large volumes of bookings and may not have the resources to grow quickly. You may experience issues such as poor technical support, frequent system outages, or find it challenging to get help and support when you need it. Work with a well-funded company that has a larger client base and more resources so that you can count on them in any season.

Work with a well-funded company with a large client base and lots of resources so that you can count on them in any season

Questions to Ask:

  • How many merchants do you work with around the world?
  • Is the company showing signs of rapid growth?
  • Despite its large size, does the company offer personalized customer service and technical support?

6. Does the company offer 24/7 customer support?

As a tours and activities operator, you never want to be in a position where you lose reservations because of technical issues, lose customer data because of software bugs and glitches, or find yourself in a position where you can’t get help to resolve customer transaction issues. Working with a company that offers 24/7 customer support—even during the holidays and other peak seasons—will help to keep things running smoothly. A company that has a dedicated FAQ section for merchants can help you find answers without even having to contact a representative.

Questions to Ask:

  • Do you offer 24-hour support?
  • Can you share a few merchant testimonials about your customer support?
  • Do you have a detailed user guide where I can find instant answers to common questions?

7. Will the platform bring me new customers from the other channels I wouldn’t normally be able to access?

Make sure your online booking software program not only helps you manage your customer base but also makes it easy to attract new customers. The latest advances in online booking technology can help merchants acquire new customers and expand their reach. For example, partnering with Peek allows you opportunity to be listed on Peek.com, which can open up a whole new distribution channel for your business. This can complement your other marketing and lead generation efforts so that you’re always growing your business.

Questions to Ask:

  • Can you guarantee me brand new customers each year?
  • Do you have a dedicated marketing program where I can access active customers who fit my target demographic?
  • Is your consumer marketplace and brand recognized and respected by the industry and nationwide?

8. Can I offer promo code redemption and group discount pricing to attract larger groups and repeat business?

When you want to issue and redeem promo codes, seasonal discounts, or special offers, make sure your online booking software program can handle the code creation, tracking, and redemption process. Look for software programs that can help you create custom codes in a few clicks, customize and edit descriptions, manage start and end dates, and even designate which specific activities or days of the week the promo code can be used for. This feature makes it extremely simple to run promotions and keep track of leads generated by different marketing campaigns.

Questions to Ask:

  • Is your promo code creation and redemption process easy-to-use?
  • Do you provide reporting and activity tracking for promotions?
  • Do you have flexible pricing options for seasonality, large groups, and special discounts?

9. Does the system offer detailed reporting?

Managing leads, reviewing revenue goals, and tracking bookings for a particular week, month, or season is only possible with a good reporting system. Make sure your online booking system offers downloadable reports and easily-accessible summaries of all activities so you can review performance goals, track seasonal trends, and determine what may or may not be working with your email marketing, online advertising, and offline campaigns. Most reports are available in a spreadsheet format and can be distributed to managers or employees as digital files in a few clicks.

Questions to Ask:

  • Can I view my performance goals and booking data at a glance?
  • Do you offer downloadable reports?
  • Can I view summaries based on activity?

10. Will the software support my business as it grows?

Even though you may currently only offer guided tours or activities, there may be a point where you expand business offerings to offer rentals, such as bikes, kayaks, boats, and other services. Make sure the online booking system you use can adapt to your growing business needs. For example, you may want to include equipment rental options for customers during the shopping and checkout process. Look for a program that offers plenty of options to customize experiences and implement adds-on with ease.

Questions to Ask:

  • Can I use the system to manage and track my equipment and inventory even though I only offer tours and activities?
  • How easy is it to add rentals, if I decide to expand my services to offer rentals to customers?
  • Can I easily add new units, track equipment that is under repair, and view my inventory availability in real-time?

Peek Pro offers all of these benefits and more, giving tour and activity operators significant competitive advantages in this growing marketplace. Make sure you are considering all of these characteristics when shopping around for online booking software so that you can generate more leads each season, deliver and exceptional customer service experience, and streamline the booking process from start to finish.


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