Online reservation software is key to the outdoor tourism industry rebounding after the pandemic.
It’s a bold statement, but guess what? Do you know who’s going to fuel the outdoor tourism rebound? Youth. Travelers between 18-35 years old. People who use and prefer digital technology. We can nearly do everything without having to talk to someone on the phone.
So, which tour provider do you think this group prefers? The one they have to call to book or the one where they can reserve and pay for a hiking trip with a few taps on the screen?
It’s no secret people are itching to travel again. We’re all desperately awaiting the green light to travel abroad or out-of-state. Many travelers are already planning for their next trip. And it will likely include activities outside.
More Requests, Less Time
Luckily for us, the outdoors has been the place to go since the start of the pandemic. As long as we’re staying 6 feet away from fellow outdoor enthusiasts, the outdoors are the safest. At the same time, outdoor tour operators have faced different challenges.
While their tours are outside, group sizes are a limiting factor. Further, more people want private adventures instead of mixing with strangers.
These extra requests make a tour operator’s job that much harder and it doesn’t have to be. Online reservation software does the work for them. It’ll be key in fueling the outdoor tourism rebound in 2021 and onward.
The pandemic forced tour operators to get creative. This doesn’t mean they tried new online software though. There are still a ton of outdoor tour operators relying on pen and paper, Facebook messaging and word-of-mouth to fill out their bookings.
Digital Technology Gives Consumers Confidence
In the article, “How Payments Technology Will Fuel Travel Rebound,” PhocusWire writes about payments technology but this applies to online reservation software too.
The first point they make is payment technology “ensures digital-first and touchless travel to reassure customers.” This is to say travelers will be more health-conscious moving forward. Implementing a touchless way to pay will be a priority for them. The same goes for reserving a hike in the mountains.
Travelers will opt to reserve their spot online rather than visiting in person or calling.
With online reservations, customers receive a receipt and proof of purchase. Calls and Instagram reservations don’t give customers confidence the same kind of confidence.
What is online reservation software?
Online reservation software manages and centralizes reservations for your outdoor tours and activities. It provides real-time availability of your guides and open seats. It automatically collects payment as well as refunds, reschedules, and cancels bookings.
Online reservation software is like having one’s own private fleet of digital assistants. They’re working behind the scenes, keeping your business up and running, and making you money while you sleep or play in the outdoors.
Can you do this without the assistance of digital technology?
- Save yourself time
- Automate business operations
- Manage inventory
- Streamline communications with guides
- Centralize and manage your resources
- Host digital waivers
- Book reservations 24/7
- Prevent overbooking
- Stay organized
- Build customers’ trust
- Offer better customer experience
If no, keep reading.
Consumers Expect Digital Technology
McKinsey states, “Many tourism businesses have struggled to keep pace with changing consumer preferences around digital. In particular, many tourism SMEs have not been fully able to integrate new digital capabilities in the way that larger businesses have, with barriers including language issues, and low levels of digital fluency.”
Many outdoor tour operators haven’t used online reservation software because they lack digital know-how. Plus, it’s intimidating. Trust us when we say there’s nothing intimidating about reservation software. Yes, it’ll be new. Yes, it’ll be different. But it’ll grow your business.
If you think we’re wrong, read what Biz Journals has to say about where we’re headed.
Biz Journals thinks “human interaction will be the exception, not the norm.” They go further to say we were trending in this direction with digital technology. The pandemic only accelerated this.
You can no longer expect the younger generation to prefer contactless reservations. It will now include an older, more health-conscious traveler as well. Continuing to rely on phone reservations, messages through social media, and word-of-mouth will disempower your business. It’ll be a non-starter for adventure-seekers. They’ll find another company that offers contactless reservations. It’s what we’ve come to expect.
How Will Online Reservation Systems Fuel Outdoor Tourism?
1. It will save operators time and automate business operations
Online reservation software will save operators time by automating business operations. For instance, manually tracking available spots, guides, and permits wastes time. This extra time could be better spent outdoors, doing what you love, or on other business opportunities like getting out the word of your outdoor tourism business. Instead of calling a guide who likely doesn’t have service, you could be spending that time on something else. An online system will automatically text the guide for you.
Booking software provides you with a reliable and centralized way of managing your resources like available tours and guides, and the number of spots available for any given tour. A system like this will also host and centralize digital waivers, display guides and company certifications and permits, and send reminders to guests about upcoming trips. Everything you may be doing manually right now can be done automatically, behind-the-scenes, 24/7.
2. It will keep you organized
Manually taking reservations, by phone, in-person, or through Instagram messages, is prone to human error. It’s okay. We are all prone to error because we’re human. Online reservation software helps eliminate human errors. The software keeps you organized by centralizing all your information, keeping numbers up-to-date, and preventing overbookings. The second worst thing to not having enough bookings is overbooking and refunding an angry customer.
3. It will help with your cash flow
The pandemic led to an extraordinary amount of cancelations and refunds. If you have online reservation software, you could have rescheduled trips instead of canceling them. Thereby, keeping up your cash flow — which is tantamount to running a business.
Another way to keep up cash flow is offering the ability to book anywhere, anytime online. With reservation software that runs online, your clients can book a backpacking trip while you’re sleeping. They could also book last minute, which is a trend that we’ll be seeing much more of as the year goes on.
4. It will build customers’ trust and offer a better experience
With the surge of digital technology from the pandemic, customers will expect the same with reserving outdoor trips. We’ve gotten used to having whatever we want with a couple of taps on the screen. Your potential customers will expect the same from you when they land on your website. Having to call a number or remember an email address to open on their Mail app will only deter them. They’ll find another tour operator that has online booking available.
Before the pandemic, digital technology was a choice for tour operators. They could get by with word-of-mouth and messages on Facebook, calls even. But now, they won’t survive without it.
Want to be at the forefront of the outdoor tourism recovery?