Choosing a Booking System That’s Right For You

by Taylor Odgers

right-fit

CHAPTER 5

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.

Support

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?

Price

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.

Monthly plans

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

User fees

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

Features

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

Flexibility

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?

User-friendly

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.

Want to try Checkfront’s booking system? Sign up for your free 21-day trial now!


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