Advantages and disadvantages of an online booking system
Promoting, taking and managing bookings can be a time-intensive process. With 2021 seeing a surge in online activity, it’s becoming more and more important to grow an online presence for your business. Giving customers a way to book online with you is becoming more of a necessity every day.
As part of a cohesive marketing strategy, it’s vital to cater to growing demands of online shoppers. But what are the key advantages to having an online booking system? What are the drawbacks and considerations? How does it impact how you run your business, from day-to-day and long term? We’ve explored these considerations and put together our guide to the advantages and disadvantages to an online booking system.
In this article we’ll review:
- What is an online booking system?
- Customer experience
- Day to day impact on your business
- Long term benefits
- How to choose one that’s right for you
What is an online booking system?
An online booking system is an application that securely handles your online reservations & ticketing. This can either be on a 3rd party website or it can be embedded directly onto your website, creating a seamless experience. To understand these options more, read our guide to the best booking systems 2022.
Typically, an online booking system manages your calendar, customer bookings and automates the whole booking experience. It simplifies the online booking process by automatically updating your calendar and handling the customer journey. Using an online booking system also offers features such as analytics and more. More advanced platforms allow you to manage staff & resources, set complex scheduling and retarget customers for repeat business.
Let’s start with the customer.
In order to be successful online, it’s important to have a customer-first approach. With review websites, ever-changing algorithms and increasing consumer expectations, customer experience is rapidly becoming the key factor for success. You work hard to create the best possible experience for your customers, so your booking system should do the same. Let’s look at why an online booking system is great for customer experience.
They’re already searching – If customers are searching online, it’s important to be where they’re looking. If customers are trying to research and find experiences just like yours, then capture them at the peak of their interest and allow them to book online with you.
Freedom – Customers in the research phase of their journey can browse and collect information without worrying about being “sold” to over the phone, so there’s no intimidation factor with dialling a number. Customers can also select the options they like and create a package that suits them.
Fast and convenient – Online booking systems make it faster for customers to buy online. In just a few clicks, customers can create their desired booking without hassle. Online booking systems offer secure payment methods and quick checkout journeys. Customers can be confident in the knowledge that everything is handled for them, from confirmation emails to reminders before the event.
Clear and Simple – With online booking pages, all the information is clearly laid out in one place. Customers can know exactly what the experience or event entails, how much it costs, when and where it takes place and more. Online booking platforms make it easier for customers to get the information they need, all packaged in an aesthetically pleasing listing.
Available 24/7 – Customers don’t need to worry about office hours or call waiting times when booking online. At any time of the day, they can easily book their ticket without the need to worry about call waiting or office hours. Customers can immediately reserve their spot any time.
Secure – Giving card details over the phone can be intimidating. With trusted payment providers, Online booking systems give customers the peace of mind to know their details won’t be compromised, making them more inclined to book with you.
How an online booking system impacts your day-to-day
Taking bookings online can change how you manage your business. Let’s look at the impact on your day-to-day management and the immediate quick-response levers you can use to drive revenues.
Reduced admin time – Having an online booking system means less time manually inputting customer information, less room for error and everything’s easy to access. From bookings to rescheduling and managing time slots, online booking systems automate lengthy manual tasks. This reduces the amount of staff you require, reducing how many people are needed on the phones. With less time spent on manual tasks, you can focus on growing your business.
Easier customer management – Most systems make it quick & easy to look up information, manage, amend or cancel bookings and reach out to customers to provide more information. More specialist systems allow you to set your own drip-feed emails to get customers excited for their visit.
Improved reporting – Whilst this varies from partner to partner, most platforms provide analytics tools to keep track of your performance. This gives you better insight into your customers and can highlight the areas you need to focus on, enabling you to make informed decisions going forwards. The more advanced systems will allow you to integrate with your favourite BI platforms or data warehousing tools using their API.
More sales – Capture customers at the pique of their interest by allowing them to immediately book with you. With clear information in one place and a strong call-to-action, you can capture more customers at different phases of the purchasing funnel. What’s more, online booking systems don’t create a bottle neck of unanswered or waiting calls, lowering your drop-out rates.
Faster payments – Online booking systems utilise trusted, safe providers that take payments instantly to your account. This also means you can take payments ahead of their booking, saving you time on the day.
Instantly updated – If a customer cancels their reservation, the spot automatically opens up. This means more customers can book with you, and minimises the risk that cancellations can often present.
Drive incremental revenue – This is an area where online booking systems truly excel, giving you plenty of quick-wins to optimise your ticket revenues. Whilst this also varies for each provider, the more capable systems allow you to create custom add-ons to drive cross-sell during a customer’s checkout journey or create ticket tiers to drive more revenue through up-selling. A good system will enable you to retarget customers for repeat business and create group discounts to encourage larger groups.
Long term advantages of an online booking system.
An online booking system has many benefits to drive sales and reduce admin time, but long term it provides an additional layer of security for your business and prepares you for the future. Here are a few advantages you can expect, long term:
Brand awareness & online presence – Marketing and selling your tickets online grows your online presence and brand awareness over time. Whether you’re using a 3rd party provider such as Eventbrite or a specialist provider’s network of tourist boards, each step increases your exposure and gets more and more customers interacting with your brand.
Diversifies revenue streams – Even if you’re not planning for online bookings to be your main source of bookings, allowing customers to book online creates another avenue to diversify and protect your business. So, if using an online booking system isn’t a priority for you, it could still provide prudent risk management.
Grow a loyal customer base – Keeping a customer is much less expensive than converting a new customer. With an online booking system you can manage existing customers to drive repeat business. Keep your customers happy and even create discount codes for loyal customers to incentivise repeat visits.
Data management – Whilst this might apply more to medium and large companies, data management is a crucial part of getting the most out of your ticketing sales performance. Not only that, it pays off down the line. Having a platform that enables you to own your data and export as you need can make it much easier when going through any internal migrations, reconciliations or audits, preventing difficult situations arising.
Greater insight – Online booking systems make it easier to get greater insights into your business. Allowing customers to book online with you means you can leverage your analytics to get the most out of your online performance. Monitor which days are particularly popular, measure drop-out rates and which ticket types sell the most, to make informed decisions for your business.
Drawbacks and considerations in an online booking system.
Online booking systems offer many advantages with few disadvantages. However it’s worth exploring the considerations or challenges you may encounter.
Influx of new customers – Whilst online booking systems automate the processes involved in handling and managing your bookings, you could find yourself unprepared if suddenly you’re receiving more bookings than anticipated. However, a good platform allows you to set ticket limits, manage availability and inventory, to prevent such situations arising.
Cost – Whilst online booking systems help drive more bookings, it’s important to consider the costs. Every provider has a different fee structure; some have a setup cost, some have fixed fees per booking, some have a percentage fee. When considering a provider, it’s important to calculate the projected costs involved and the impact on your cost-per-booking.
Requires internet access – If you exclusively sell online, you could be isolating audiences who prefer to book over the phone or through other methods. This is particularly true for elderly customers, however it’s becoming less of a concern as even older demographics are becoming more accustomed to booking online, a trend that has surged during the pandemic.
Using the wrong provider – Whilst online bookings systems are meant to make things easier, using a provider that has frequent issues, downtime or provides unreliable service can disrupt your business. This is an even greater challenge if you’re tied into a contract with them, so it’s important to review your options carefully before choosing.
How to choose a provider that’s right for you.
Given all the factors, it’s important to choose a provider that’s right for you. There are several factors to consider, such as cost, checkout options, ease of integration, features and customisability. But most importantly, the right provider has to fit your brand and your business needs.
For large companies with highly specific needs, a bespoke, custom option may be the best option. For free events and one-offs, a 3rd party website might fit best. If you’re looking for a booking platform for your events, attractions or experiences business, consider a specialist booking system that’s designed with your business in mind. It’s important to choose a system that’s designed for your line of business. If you’re running an events, attractions or experiences business, you want a provider that understands and specialises in that area. Do they provide options that cater to your needs? For example, inventory management and add-ons? Do they offer more than just a booking system or help you promote through their partners? It’s important to assess the whole package and how it fits your business.
If you want to provide the best experience for your customers, take a look at Beyonk , the simple yet powerful booking system to help you delight your customers, maximise your revenue & reduce your admin.
Our mission is clear: to make it easier to manage and grow your business. Beyonk is packed with tourism and leisure-specific features, 24 hour support, a UK team, free sign up and no contracts or minimum term lengths.