The benefits of booking travel online are numerous for both parties in the transaction. Guests can book their vacations with the click of a mouse. Despite that simplicity, there is a lot going on behind the scenes. In order to make online booking a seamless experience for their guests, providers must navigate a complex web.
This is especially true for destinations that specialize in highly personalized all-inclusive programs. The best of which have built their reputation by planning for every detail and consistently exceeding guest expectations. In the spirit of providing the very best levels of service, and due to the technological limitations that have existed, many of these operators have elected not to make online booking an option and continue to manage their business by phone and email correspondence.
However, the market for booking travel on the web grows annually by an estimated 10 to 15 percent. The question becomes one of maintaining a competitive edge. And with improvements in technology, purveyors of experiential travel are now asking how they can make online booking authentic to their destination.
If you are thinking through this move for your business, keep these factors top of mind:
Create an Online Booking Experience
Truly effective technology often goes unnoticed. The best online booking engines engage guests in a vacation planning experience rather than a transaction. Look for systems that don’t require jumping through digital hoops and freely move guests to the point of sale. Furthermore, all-inclusive properties have the opportunity to highlight every aspect of what guests can expect at your property. Be sure to incorporate all the package elements in the reservation confirmation; lodging, dining, activities, and transportation. When you are in the business of making memories for a lifetime you don’t want to leave your guests feeling like they only “booked a room”.
Online booking is meant to improve your operation and build consumer confidence, not work against it. In other words, a good system will give you more control, not less. Make certain your booking engine fully integrates with your property management system and keeps your inventory automatically in synch. Above all else, do not allow guests to leave your website to complete the booking, it sends the completely wrong message, and in many cases, once they leave your website, they don’t come back.
Budget and Strategic Planning
Online booking is one of many levers operators can employ to successfully execute their strategic plan. Don’t just try online booking on for size, take the time to model the upfront costs into your budget, layout the digital marketing tactics designed to drive traffic to your site, and forecast the reasonable revenues online booking might generate for your business. All of these exercises will allow you to make the best decision for your business, map out appropriate timelines, and properly measure your ROI.