If you ever read consumer travel advice, you’ve probably seen the advice to book last-minute come up again and again. The constant repetition of that mantra works: over 40 percent of U.S travelers now use their smartphones to place bookings while they’re already travelling (Criteo, 2016). Last minute bookings are a double edged sword for most of the travel industry, bringing in deal-hungry travelers at the cost of stability and predictability. For tour companies, they can be a lot more trouble.
In fact, while travelers love making last-minute bookings, 38 percent of tour and activity providers require at least a day’s notice for bookings, according to Phocuswright’s Tours & Activities Come of Age: The Global Travel Activities Marketplace 2014 – 2020. Every hour you can shave off that day puts you at an advantage that other tour companies can’t beat.
Luckily, online booking platforms like Rezgo can make last-minute bookings manageable.
Let’s get this out of the way first. If you don’t want to accept last-minute bookings, an online booking platform is a great choice. Maybe last-minute bookings don’t work with your business model, maybe you need more notice to sort out your guides, maybe you simply don’t like dealing with customers who pop up without warning. That’s fine!
Rezgo allows you to set cutoffs for new bookings, so no one can book in a window you set before a tour or activity is scheduled to start. That way, when a customer visits your website looking for a last-minute tour to book, they’ll see everything that still has space – not the tours they’re already too late to join.
Accept bookings up until the last minute, if you want to, or stop accepting them hours or days in advance. Online bookings can make both of those options easier for your business.
Now, with that being said, there are lots of ways to minimize the disruption caused by last minute bookings.
Is communication a challenge when dealing with last-minute bookings? Do you struggle to keep your guides informed of the bookings your office staff accept late in the game? With Rezgo, your guides can get real-time email notifications of every new booking on the tours they lead, so you never need to worry about surprises or missed connections again.
You can also create custom SMS or email notifications for all your new bookings, so no one is left out of the loop.
Did you know that only 10 percent of tour and activity providers can scan tickets for automatic check-ins (Phocuswright, 2017)? That means 90 percent of the time, guests need to wait while a staff member checks them in manually, one at a time.
Many providers also require printed tickets – only half can email tickets at all, and fewer than a quarter have mobile ticketing. That leaves last-minute guests in the lurch. When a guest makes a last-minute booking, picking up tickets is a hassle at best, and who travels with a printer? For guests who are on the road, that means hoping their accommodations include a business center with a printer — or it means they’re simply out of luck.
Booking online with Rezgo gets rid of this hassle completely. Vouchers or tickets are sent directly to your guests’ email addresses. You or your guides can check guests in by scanning the voucher’s barcode with a scanner or smartphone, or entering a short string of numbers into a check-in website. No need to print anything, and no need to wait.
Direct Access to Manifests
If you print out manifests every morning for your guides, adding guests at the last minute can be a challenge. Online booking lets you give your guides direct access to up-to-the-minute manifests.
In Rezgo, you can give guides access to as much or as little of your online booking system as you want. If you only want them to be able to access manifests, you can do that! You can even save manifest searches for the tours that are relevant to them so they can access the day’s manifests with one click from the Rezgo dashboard. That way, they’ll have the newest version of the manifest possible before guests start arriving or before they go off-grid.
Mobile-Friendly Booking Software
Of course, all of this only helps if you can access your booking software. That’s why Rezgo is designed for use with desktop computers, laptops and mobile devices of all shapes and sizes. Almost 80 percent of U.S. adults have smartphones (Pew Research, 2017), so you can trust that most of your guests can access your booking website on the go (after all, how else are they waiting until the very last minute to book?).
And it’s not just the customer-facing material that’s smartphone-ready. Rezgo’s back office software is, too. So all you need to do to make last-minute bookings easy is ensure that your guides have access to some kind of internet-capable device, or access to someone who does.
Online booking gives you tools to serve the huge, lucrative portion of the travel market that only books last minute, and that will put you ahead of many of your competitors. Get started with Rezgo, and get ahead today.