How To Setup Your Booking System
Before we take a look at the booking process, you should understand what’s going on behind the scenes.
Here at Checkfront, we call the backend of our online booking system the Booking Manager. Other platforms might refer to it as your dashboard. Regardless of what it’s called, it’s your home base.
It’s where you set up your business.
Each company is unique and there are many different ways to set up your Booking Manager. For the purposed of this guide, we’ll only go over one. To illustrate we will use our hypothetical tour business— The London Experience.
So here we go:
Step 1- Setup Your Inventory
Inventory is the bookable items for your business. If you have many different tours and activities you can organize them by categories.
Categories– The London Experience offers over 20 different tours and activities. Leah (the owner) organizes them into four different categories— tours, activities, events, accommodations.
Items– Leah sets up The London Chef’s most popular tour— The Must See Bus Tour of London. She fills in the additional details:
- Assigned Category
Step 2- Setup Your Availability & Pricing
To set the bus tour availability, Leah needs to create a few rules that the system will apply when a guest makes a reservation.
Inventory– The bus can hold 20 guests at a time.
Schedule– The tour takes 3 hours and runs once nightly at 7 pm.
Pricing– The bus tour is $40 for adults and $30 for children in the high season. In the low season, each price drops by $10.
Step 3- Set up your booking form
The booking form collects the guest information you need for each tour. You can use different booking forms for each tour, or one for all, depending on the nature of your business.
For the bus tour, Leah only needs the name and contact information of the person who made the reservation, the number of guests in the party, and whether they are adults or children.
Step 4- Add your payment flow
To get paid for your online reservations you’ll need to setup your payment flow. This includes your deposit and payment gateway.
Deposit– Leah wants guests to pay the full price at the time of booking, so he sets the deposit to 100%.
Payment Gateway– Leah likes the freedom that Square provides, so she signs up for a merchant account and connects it to her Booking Manager.
Step 5- Set up your notifications
Rather than calling or messaging each of your guests individually, you can use your booking system to send automatic notifications through text or email. Leah set’s up a few different notifications.
Confirmation– Leah sets up an email to send to guests when their reservation has been made and attaches the invoice.
Staff Assignment– Leah also sends her staff a message telling them to assign a guide to the tour.
Cancellation– She creates a message to send to guests if they choose to cancel their tour.
Follow Up– She sets an email to be sent one day after the tour to ask for feedback and an online review.
Step 6- Set up your waiver kiosk
If your business needs to collect liability waivers for your activities and your booking system offers digital waivers, you’ll want to set up your kiosk now.
The bus tour doesn’t need waivers so Leah skips this step for now.
Step 7- Connect the platform to your website
Most booking systems allow you to add their platform to your existing website with a plugin or code. To add a Booking Manager to your website you will need to…
Because Leah is using Checkfront’s Booking Manager, she chooses to create a new site using our code-free Site Builder. You can view the website to see how Leah’s backend setup appears to guests.
Step 8- Set up your integration
Your booking system might offer integrations to other business tools. This allows all your systems to talk to each other and reduces the amount of data input you need to do. Let’s take a look at the one’s Leah adds:
- Google Maps- to show the location of where each tour starts
- Vend- so she can sell merchandise
- Facebook- so she can accept bookings on her business page
- Viator- to sell her inventory on the OTA in real-time
- Gift Certificates- to add another sales channel
- Zoho CRM- to keep track of her customer information
- MailChimp- to send her email marketing
- QR Codes- to make check-in simple
- Apple Wallet- so guests can save their tickets
- Xero-to manage her accounting
Step 9- Set up your staff accounts
Now Leah needs to decide the staff members who will use the account and the level of access she’ll grant them.
To start, she creates a staff account for her booking agent, Evaline, and gives her restricted access. This allows Evaline to add reservations for people who call in or book in person while restricting her from making changes to pricing and availability.
Step 10- Set up your reports and analytics
Finally, Leah sets up her daily lists. This shows all her reservations for the day. Her staff can print this off to cross-reference at check-in to make sure everyone is in attendance.
She can set up other reports to track her trends over time, but first, she needs to get some bookings. Next, we’ll take a look at how this all appears to a customer when they make a reservation.
Next Chapter: The Booking Process
Previous Chapter: How Does an Online Booking System Work?