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In a highly competitive tourism market, travel reservation software must be more sophisticated than ever. Travel agents, tour operators and hoteliers have dozens of choices. Consumers won't settle for anything less than a user-friendly, engaging experience.
As demand for state-of-the-art technology continues to grow, businesses that buy online reservation systems look for must-have features like the 10 listed below.
A stunning image gallery is the chief selling point for anyone choosing a destination, tour or hotel. A top-notch system has ample capacity for a number of high-resolution photos.
Users expect to browse through quality images of properties, surroundings, amenities, places of interest and even local cuisine. Beautiful pictures inspire the undecided to click the "Book Now" button. Travel booking software that can't accommodate them is of little use to anyone.
No one likes going through all the booking motions only to find that their preferences are unavailable. Potential guests want to see at a glance what dates, accommodations and prices are being offered. They want the big picture all in one place.
Easily navigated calendars are not just a convenience for travelers. Hotel owners, tour operators and activity directors rely heavily on them.
They can see at a glance what is coming up this week, this month or this year. They can coordinate their efforts to schedule staffing, food deliveries and a host of other details. A functional calendar that automatically updates saves everyone a lot of legwork.
Not only that, but it makes double-bookings a thing of the past.
Appealing to a global audience is difficult when a website offers only one language and one currency. That will be the shortest page view of a foreigner's search.
International travel is more common than ever, and a travel booking engine must support and quickly adapt to diverse languages, currencies and cultures. A foreigner who can seamlessly switch the display to his preference will feel right at home on the site.
Smart owners and managers are not just reading customer reviews these days; they are intentionally courting feedback. Those who do not engage with reviewers wonder why they have a customer retention problem.
A quality online reservation system makes it possible for management to discreetly reach out to clients. It invites clients to leave feedback. Sincere, timely responses turn new guests into longtime loyal customers.
In addition, online reviews are the new word-of-mouth. That's arguably the strongest marketing tool of all.
People are far too used to conveniently paying for everything online. Denying them the instant gratification of booking a trip could very well send them to a competitor.
There are even more benefits to online payment processing:
Many travel agencies operate only in a digital space.
Since payments are instantly approved or denied, booking and availability information is always up to date. In other words, bookings that might be denied in the future don't take up space on the calendar.
Online payment processing resolves the time zone issues of global travel.
Immediate processing improves cash flow.
For all those reasons, this feature is a priority.
From booking confirmations to requests for feedback, automation keeps everyone on the same page. An online reservation system that can be customized to send reminders, provide travel tips, or direct guests to local restaurants and attractions saves time and manpower. Once emails are formatted and scheduled, everybody can move on to something else.
Property owners who successfully market to online travel agents count on channel management. These advanced systems simultaneously display inventories and rates across multiple channels as well as the owner's own website.
With bookings streaming in from Expedia, Booking.com, Travelocity, Airbnb and others, channel management is more than just a luxury. It's a necessity.
Syncing with a calendar, the system automatically updates in real time to prevent overbookings.
Leveraging social media is critical nowadays in most industries, but it's especially important in the travel and hospitality sector.
Modern trip-planners base many of their travel decisions on social media reviews, photos and shares. A good portion of their research takes place on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter via mobile devices.
Customer-facing marketers harness these platforms to promote brand awareness, attract potential customers, announce promotions and tweet urgent updates. Google Maps, it goes without saying, guides waffling online wanderers toward their dream destinations.
Inferior travel reservation software simply can't survive without the ability to link to third-party platforms and apps.
People in travel and hospitality rarely sit around at their desks all day. That's why customer and booking data must be accessible through the cloud.
Cloud-based software creates flexible, 24/7 remote access from a cellphone, laptop or tablet. It is a must for managers in bustling hotels or on-the-go tour operators. Their livelihoods depend on frequent interaction with guests.
Storing data in the cloud is also safer than storing it on a hard drive, which leaves it vulnerable to power outages or system crashes.
With so much data and so many factors in play, businesses want a streamlined system for tracking performance. A customized travel booking engine can generate a gold mine of accurate, timely information:
At-a-glance daily, weekly, monthly and yearly performance.
Payment details and outstanding payments.
Optimal pricing and profit margins.
Seasons and destinations that are of greatest value.
Performance of marketing campaigns.
Inventory requirements and fluctuations.
With that kind of information at leaders' fingertips, they can immediately respond to issues and make better decisions.
Interested in creating an online reservation system? Chetu has experience developing avant-garde, customized online reservation software. Click here for more information.
Chetu, Inc. does not affect the opinion of this article. Any mention of specific names for software, companies or individuals does not constitute an endorsement from either party unless otherwise specified. All case studies and blogs are written with the full cooperation, knowledge and participation of the individuals mentioned. This blog should not be construed as legal advice.
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