Two different research studies have shown that tourism businesses lack technology and that this is hindering success both online and through distribution. Key advancements in tourism e-commerce software technology are going to change all that and enable tour providers to manage their businesses more efficiently and take advantage of both online sales as well as sales through distribution.
In 2011 PhoCusWright, the leading travel industry research firm, released a study that showed that a mere 14% of in-destination tour and activity providers use an electronic reservation system. Despite a two year time span, that number had changed very little when PhoCusWright did a follow up study in 2013. The reasons for this lack of adoption vary but the major ones include a lack of understanding of the benefits, a lack of available technology, and the costs & complexity of existing solutions.
Traditionally tour management systems were designed to serve the needs of larger tour and excursion operators. Generally these systems were very expensive and quite complicated. Smaller tour operators, sightseeing companies, and activity providers have had to make due by using paper calendars and spreadsheet software. Because of the lack of real-time inventory management, the fear of overbooking has caused many providers to avoid taking online bookings or sell through potential distribution partners. In addition to lost revenue opportunities, these businesses have also lost out on valuable reporting opportunities.
One company has been working since 2007 to shift the tide and help small tourism businesses move online. In the same way that OpenTable is helping restaurant owners maximize the potential of online bookings and increase revenues, Rezgo is helping tour and activity operators to better manage their availability, capture valuable customer information, and generate more revenue.
Rezgo, a cloud hosted SaaS software, allows businesses to sign-up to use the system without any upfront capital investment or recurring subscription costs. Once activated, the business can use the software to add or edit tour details and upload images, manage their tour or activity inventory and schedule, receive bookings through a mobile friendly booking engine, and handle phone or in-person bookings. The software is even connected to major merchant banking systems around the World allowing the tour business to use their own credit card processors. The business pays a small transaction fee for each booking made through the system but all other features are free to use and do not incur additional costs.
In addition to managing supply, tourism businesses that use Rezgo can create their own distribution opportunities and manage third-party bookings from resellers such as Viator, Expedia, Orbitz, and others. More advanced businesses can also use the available XML API to create custom shopping experiences, direct connections, and more sophisticated integrations.
But a cost effective and simple to use technology only solves part of the challenge for small tourism businesses. Resources for tour and activity providers are as limited online as technology has been. To help solve the last major part of the challenge, Rezgo has been providing education and best practices content for many years. Over the past seven years, Rezgo has produced hundreds of articles, e-books, and presentations not just for tour and activity providers but for the travel industry at large as well as sponsoring important industry research.
With the release of the latest version, Rezgo is making it even simpler for small tourism businesses to benefit from e-commerce and online tourism best practices. As more small businesses embrace management and e-commerce tools, the more marketing and distribution opportunities will present themselves. Research has already shown that the tour and activity market is larger than car rentals or cruises, with the help of cost effective online tools and relevant education, it will be able to live up to its potential.