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

by Mia Steinberg

Excel vs. Checkfront Booking System

Running a reservation-based business involves paperwork and planning. It’s about more than just transactions; you need to schedule your bookings, keep track of who has paid what, and assign tour guides or inventory without accidentally doubling up. This is a challenge no matter what, but it becomes especially difficult when your booking system is a handful of Excel spreadsheets on a desktop computer.

An Excel booking system is often the first thing that new business owners turn to, because it’s already installed on their computer. At first, a spreadsheet seems like an easy way to keep track of transactions and bookings, but as the business becomes more complex it often becomes necessary to use multiple spreadsheets strung together with enough formulas to make a mathematician’s head spin. But even with all that hassle, we still see business owners who are reluctant to give up their homebrew Excel booking systems—even though Checkfront offers so much more. While it’s easy to prefer the familiar to the unknown, here are five reasons why a spreadsheet system just can’t compare to one in the cloud.

1: Too Many Formulas

Spreadsheets have a not-insignificant learning curve; while it’s easy enough to enter data into cells, any formulas must be either memorized or looked up every time. Every number must be inputted by hand, and business owners often need to juggle multiple formulas in order to calculate things like revenue, commission, or sales growth over time. An online booking system does all the math for you, so you can easily see what’s going on in your business without having to bury yourself in numbers.

2: Risk of Error

When you’re inputting everything by hand, it’s all too easy to make a mistake somewhere—and they can be difficult to catch. Imagine this scenario: a customer makes a booking and you must put the details into your Sales spreadsheet—but also create a separate invoice with the same sales tracking number, and put the information into your back-end spreadsheet for later bookkeeping. All it takes is one missed key on the keyboard, and a week later you can’t connect that sale across the three documents and must compare absolutely everything line by line to see where the mistake was made. In contrast, an online booking system will track sales, invoices, and much more automatically, taking the human error out of the equation and significantly reducing the risk of a mixup.

3: No Centralized Data

Businesses using Excel or another spreadsheet booking system often end up with their data spread across multiple files—one for sales, one for commissions, one for inventory tracking, and so on. The data isn’t centralized, and is often repeated across sheets as needed—a very hectic and confusing system. With online booking software, all your information is in the same place, making it easy to consolidate and manage.

4: No Security

Many people are scared of the cloud; it’s weird to think of all your business information floating out there in cyberspace. But confining all that data to a desktop computer isn’t the solution! A hard drive crash or computer virus can wipe your entire system in a heartbeat, destroying every trace of your hard-earned sales—and recovering the data, when possible, is an expensive nightmare. Cloud booking systems are far more secure; their servers are highly protected from attacks, and you can download your data for offline storage as an extra precaution. Even better, you can access the information from multiple locations—so if your desktop computer crashes or your internet connection fries, you can still operate your business.

5: No Reports

Want to know if your recent renovations have increased the revenue for your accommodations this quarter? How about your profit margins for your scooter rentals, or which employee takes the most bookings? Quick—how many kayaks do you have available three Tuesdays from now, and which bookings have only paid their deposit? Excel spreadsheets could maybe tell you this information, but it’s a hassle to obtain and often involves tracing information across multiple files. An online booking system offers all of these reports right out of the box; you can see your sales, revenue, budgets, invoices, customers, inventory, and so much more with just a few clicks of the mouse. You’re missing out on crucial information about your business; you need to be able to track changes and view trends over time. It’s a million times easier to generate these reports in an online booking system.

Conclusion: Excel is Inefficient

Yes, you read that right. Even though Excel is used to help organize your numbers, it often becomes far more complicated than it really should be. It’s impossible to track complex business data in just one spreadsheet, and trying to keep multiple documents updated is a time-wasting nightmare that is far too prone to error. You need to train employees on complex formulas and labyrinthine data entry tasks. Furthermore, Excel spreadsheets are just too limited; they don’t offer complex reports or real-time insight into how your business is operating. It’s not easy to update when you get new inventory or wish to make changes. By contrast, online booking systems are flexible, secure, and relatively straightforward to use; they may take a little getting used to, but they’ll save you a significant amount of time and cash. When you compare online versus spreadsheets side by side, there’s really no comparison.

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