Choosing a Booking System That’s Right for You
There are many different online booking systems out there. And there’s no one size fits all solution. Ultimately, you’ll want the one that will work best for your business.
Here are some things to consider.
You’re adopting a completely new process for your business. When something goes wrong at 3am, you need a partner that will be there to help you work through it. You’ll be able to spot a partner with your best interests from day one of your trial.
Here are some things to look for:
- Do they help with setup?
- Do they have free support?
- How is that support provided (email, phone, in-person)?
- Do they have educational resources (videos, blogs, webinars)?
- Do they offer additional coaching?
When it comes down to it, you need a solution that fits your budget. Look ahead to your busy season, and make sure the pricing is within your budget. Here are some of the most common pricing breakdowns for online booking software.
This is a flat rate that you pay to use the platform each month. Most booking systems offer tiered plans based on your volume of bookings.
Pro: it’s predictable and grows with your business
Con: you have to pay out of pocket before your first few bookings come in
Commission based pricing
When a booking is made, you pay a percentage of proceeds to the software provider. Rates can range widely from 1% to 25%.
Pro: you’re only charged when reservations come in
Con: commissions can grow significantly over time and you could end up paying much more than you would on a flat rate plan
Similar to the commission model but offloads the fee to the guest. The fee is added to the invoice the same way a tax would be.
Pro: you don’t pay for your software
Con: customers might abandon bookings due to surprise fees
Unfortunately, finding a booking software that meets the needs of your business can be a tiresome process. Booking systems have a wide range of features, and almost-identical business will have very different needs. It’s a good idea to map out what you think you’ll need beforehand, and ask lots of questions before spending too much time getting things set up.
Any booking system should include these basic features:
- The ability to take online and offline reservations
- A sensible inventory management system
- The ability to process payments through a payment gateway
- An easy way to integrate with your website
- A way to send guests reminders and follow-ups
- Reports and analytics
As I mentioned, there is no one size fits all approach to booking systems. So choose one that has the ability to adjust to your needs. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you’re evaluating the platforms.
Is it customizable?
- Does it work with the unique complexities of your business?
- Does it play nice with the other tools I’m using?
- Can it scale as my business grows?
This might seem like a no-brainer, but it could make or break your business! Make sure you know exactly what your customers are going to see, and make sure it works as advertised. People don’t have a lot of patience to struggle with an interface.
Your booking software is a big deal for your business. And you deserve the chance to see if something will work for you, because it will fundamentally alter the way your business runs. Take your time, read reviews, and don’t lock yourself into anything until you’re sure you’ve found a winner.
That said, be realistic; it’s highly unlikely that you’ll find a 100% perfect system that addresses every last one of your issues. Decide what you are firm on, and what you can live without.
P.S. Checkfront’s online booking system is always commission-free, comes with 24/7 support, is flexible and user-friendly. See for yourself, sign up for your free 21-day trial now!
Previous Chapter: The Booking Process