I often speak to businesses that are somewhat skeptical about taking online bookings. Change can be challenging, and if a business is used to doing things a certain way, it can be hard to make the leap. Businesses are sometimes unsure if allowing online bookings is a good decision or not. Will it make things easier for the business and my customers? Will customers use an online booking system? The answer is a resounding YES! Here are 10 reasons why.
1. Always available . . . anywhere, anytime: A booking system attends to your customers’ reservations 24/7. It allows them to make bookings from anywhere, at any time, even in the middle of the night or during holidays.
2. Easy and instant: Have you ever left a webpage because it wasn’t easy to navigate or confusing to book products/services? Probably so. If a potential customer feels that way about your website, then he will likely take his business elsewhere and book with the competition. An online booking option is usually the simplest and easiest way to allow your customer to make reservations. It will reduce the possibility of losing potential customers.
3. No cost: People love to get things for free, and that is why they most prefer to book online for free instead of calling, especially if they have to spend a fortune calling from abroad.
4. Easy access to availability: Once the customer has seen your products/services, he will then look to see what is available. If a calendar showing availability is not on your webpage, it could frustrate a customer and prompt them to give you a call. This extra step (and extra frustration) could easily be alleviated by having a booking calendar that displays real-time availability on your website.
5. Multi-language: If a potential customer is from another country or doesn’t speak the same language, he may not want to reach out to you with questions via email or phone since the communication is difficult. In this case, having a booking system that is multi-lingual will allow you to reach a wider customer base.
6. Great experience: The reservation process is the first, direct contact a customer has with a business, and it is important to make sure this first impression is a positive one. If your customers are able to book, pay online, and receive a confirmation of the booking within 5 minutes, they will certainly remember it as a great booking experience. This will often translate into more business as customers that have a good experience will tell their friends and family. Word of mouth is a powerful sales tool for any business.
7. Transparent: Transparency is critical when it comes to the Internet. A booking system will show prices, taxes, options, fees and accepted payment methods. Your customers will immediately know all the important details, including cost of the product/service, and how to make the payment.
8. Meets customers’ expectations: The Internet keeps evolving. Today it is possible to do almost everything online. You can book a hotel, rent a car, or buy a computer. Your customers are accustomed to doing most everything online. The same is true for making a reservation – they will expect to be able to do it online. If you do not provide this option, it will reflect poorly on your business.
9. Control of the process: When you purchase or reserve something you certainly want to control the process. You want to be able to book at your convenience, find the dates and times that work best for you, and not have pressure from anyone else to tell you how do it. It is your money and time after all. This is exactly what online booking allows – control and freedom.
10. Easy access: In 2013, more a 25% of the Internet visits were made with a mobile device or a tablet. The percentage for 2014 will likely increase, too. Even if you are a small business, you must have the expectations that most of your customers will use these types of devices. Most booking systems available today are responsive and will allow your customers to book directly and easily from smartphones and tablets.