Why Excel Spreadsheets Can’t Compete with an Online Booking System

September 6, 2018, Kyla Steeves
Tour operator sitting at desk with laptop looking at excel spreadsheet booking system.

Running a tour company involves paperwork and planning — like scheduling bookings, tracking transactions, assigning tour guides and managing inventory. An Excel booking system may seem like a simple way to handle these administrative tasks, but having a handful of Excel spreadsheets isn’t the best long-term solution.

As your business grows, it becomes more complicated. You may start out with a couple of spreadsheets, but over time, you could have multiple strung together with enough formulas to make your head spin. Even if you’re able to sort through the entanglement, it’s challenging to train new staff on a booking system that only makes sense to you.

Whether you’re considering spreadsheets or reluctant to give up your home-brew booking solution, it’s never too late to evaluate a cloud-based alternative. An online booking system has everything your tour business needs to streamline workflow, increase sales and make realistic forecasts — without the hassle of manual data entry.

Still not convinced? We’ve outlined five reasons why a spreadsheet system doesn’t compare to an online booking platform. Let’s get started:  

1. No more formulas

Excel spreadsheets have a significant learning curve. Though it’s easy to enter data, format cells and hit file, save, and print, your booking system may require skills beyond the Excel basics. And mastering formulas isn’t something you can do in a short amount of time — even after watching hours of tutorials.

Unless you have a photographic memory, you’ll have to memorize essential formulas or look them up when needed. And after manually inputting every number, you might find yourself juggling multiple formulas to calculate revenue, commission or sales growth. It’s a greater hassle than it has to be.

With an online booking system, you no longer have to bury yourself in numbers or worry about common formula errors. Checkfront pulls your booking data and does the math for you — so that you can see the results at any time.

Screenshot of sales report on Checkfront online booking system dashboard.

2. No risk of error

When you’re manually inputting data, it’s possible to make a mistake somewhere — and errors can be difficult to catch.

For example, a guest makes a booking, and you enter the details into an invoice, a sales spreadsheet, and a back-end spreadsheet for later bookkeeping. It only takes one missed key, and you can’t connect that sale across the three documents. Line by line, you’re forced to compare everything until you find the error. By the time you do, you’ve lost time you could’ve spent on other tasks.

In contrast, an online booking system will track sales, invoices, and much more automatically —  taking human error out of the equation and significantly reducing the risk of a mix-up.

3. Centralized data

If you use an Excel booking system, you might have data spread across multiple files — one for sales, one for revenue, one for inventory tracking, and so on. Since the data isn’t centralized and repeated across sheets as needed, it can make for a hectic and confusing system.

With online booking software, all your information is in the same place. At any time, and on any device, you can easily consolidate and manage your bookings and inventory.

Screenshot of monthly booking volume on Checkfront dashboard.

4. More secure

Although the cloud is far from a new idea, it still might be strange thinking of your data floating in cyberspace. But this doesn’t mean you should keep your business information confined to a desktop computer.

That’s because a hard drive crash or computer virus can wipe your entire system and destroy every trace of your hard-earned sales. Even if it’s possible to get it back, data recovery is an unexpected and costly expense.

On the other hand, cloud booking systems are far more secure because their servers are highly protected from attacks. As an extra precaution, you can download your data for offline storage, but otherwise, you can rest easy knowing your data is safe.

Plus, when your data is in the cloud, you can access it from multiple locations. So if your desktop computer crashes or your internet connection fries, you can still operate your tour business.

5. Access to reports

Want to know if your recent renovations increased the revenue for your lodging this quarter? How about profit margins for your scooter rentals, or which employee takes the most bookings? Quick — how many kayaks do you have available this Tuesday, and what guests have only paid their deposit?

Depending on the details you enter into Excel, you might be able to gather these answers. But it can be a hassle to obtain if you have multiple spreadsheets saved in separate files.

An online booking system comes with all the reports your tour business needs. It’s easy to retrieve a report for sales, revenue, promotions, monthly booking volume, traffic and transactions. You can use filters to target more specific results — like date range, staff, category and item. And further, customize the reports by selecting only the columns you want to see.

Screenshot of Daily Agenda of guest details on Checkfront online booking system.

More so, you have access to booking details without having to sift through piles of paper at the reception. Checkfront collects information from each booking — including guest details — and then generates a summary to view at any time. The summary acts as a snapshot for any particular day — which is useful for your team to prepare in advance.

To access these reports, all you have to do is head over to your Checkfront dashboard. One place, few clicks. Fast and easy.

Final thoughts

Excel is useful for organizing numbers, but it’s impossible to track complex business data in only one spreadsheet. Trying to keep multiple documents updated is prone to human error. And training new staff on complicated formulas and convoluted data entry takes far too much time.

Online booking systems are flexible, secure and simple to use. Checkfront offers granular reports and real-time insight into your business operations. It updates automatically when you add new inventory. And any changes you wish to make, you can do so quickly within the dashboard.

There’s no comparison when it comes to Excel spreadsheets and an online booking system. By switching over, you’ll save a significant amount of time and money. So what’s really holding you back?

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