For many small businesses, booking software seems like a solution that anyone with appointments could use. This is a big driver to why so many people are after the $1.2 trillion business travel has alone, set aside the massive amount of booking appointments other industries make as well. Yes, it’s easy to see why there’s so much hype around this industry, especially when considering the amount of businesses that could be helped with a solid solution. However, finding the right one can be tough.
Like a lot of technology for small businesses, our biggest problem isn’t knowing what we need but deciding what we want. We know we need travel software but may not understand the specific in’s and out’s of how it works or if we’re paying for the most accurate product to serve our needs. However, not to worry, as that’s why I’m going to run through a few key points in implementing a booking service.
Look At What Your Current Needs Are
Booking systems can vary depending on volume, industry, and even the time of year. The factors at play here can vary tremendously, with some companies only needing booking software seasonally, while others are permanently trying to use it as a tool implemented with their marketing objectives. Furthermore, the complexities of this software can vary tremendously as well, with some only needing a simple structure that can handle time and date appointments, while others need entire packages and timetables laid out. Overall, your best bet is going to be picking through and asking if each element of your business is going to be necessary to include with your booking process.
Keep in mind, an important element to your needs is also assessing the opportunities for new customers by implementing a booking system. According to Statistic Brain, approximately 57% of reservations are made online per year. This means that people are placing reservations on multiple sites online, which means there’s a healthy level of competition. However, by finding a niche market or capitalizing digitally on the one you’re already contributing to, your business could take a significant piece of that pie in no time.
Where Do You Fit In Your Market?
Knowing your fit will largely determine the type of volume you’re going to incur, which will dictate the size/manner of the booking software you’ll need. For example, something like travel that’s worth over $20 billion is going to be immensely popular, so it’s best to hone in on something you can handle off the cuff. Furthermore, this entails having a product that allows you to expand your offerings, especially if you’re looking to have your booking software expand on your number of reservations as well.
One of the beauties to most big name booking services is the data they provide in analyzing your market. This is a treasure trove of data, as it shows you not only who has booked, but who potentially might in the future as well. Additionally, knowing the devices someone is booking on is imperative information as well, especially when considering conversions via your current UX model. And with mobile taking a 33% share in reservations in 2016, how people behave with your product will greatly decide the success it will have.
How You're Going To Implement It
A big part of installing virtually any piece of technology to your site is how it will behave with the other aspects you’ve already put in. This goes well beyond just the speed of information that’s loaded, but the UX, as well as if you have to go to a third party site to make a reservation. The solution to this varies, especially when considering the factors above on volume and industry; but overall, taking things simple at first would probably be your best bet.
In truly implementing a system, check and see if an API is available for an easy install. If you’re not familiar, an API, or Application Programming Interfaces, as explained by School of Data, are essential points for websites to bounce information off one another. The great thing about API’s is they don’t require a custom build, as well as allow you to experiment with if committing to a larger scale operation is worth it.
As you start to consider a booking software for your page, remember to factor in the type of business and industry you’re in, as well as the cost-benefit analysis of your needs. As these solutions can be a great way to bolster your business, it’s not an easy decision to make. However, the point is to find something that could maximize profits while reducing risk, which begs the question, what do you really have to lose?