Just One Click
The case for running an on-line booking system almost speaks for itself.
Because holiday destinations that move to full online bookings, typically, see increased in turnover – and profit -- of 40-50%.
You can cut overheads too. Parks who change to automated systems, regularly reduce staff administration costs by 30%.
I call that a win, win situation. Yet many older or smaller parks still work with wall charts, diaries and spreadsheets. So why the reluctance to make the switch?
“For a significant percentage, they have a small park and it is always full and they feel they don’t need a bespoke booking systems,” explains Dawn Bee, who runs one of the industry’s most popular systems in GemaPark.
“For others, it is a reluctance to lose the ability to talk to -- and vet -- their customers,” Dawn adds.
Allocate is a flexible online booking system you can embed in your existing website that is ideal for holiday home lettings and campsite bookings.
“There are some campsites that operate under the 28 day rule that don’t believe they would benefit sufficiently from a booking system,” comments Allocate’s Charles Holdsworth.
“Some of these are cash-only sites where few, if any, arrangements are made in advance,” he adds.
“Over the last five years though, the rise of payment systems that do not have a fixed monthly fee has made booking systems far more attractive to the seasonal market, even those with a low turnover.”
Smaller sites can be victims of their own success as they tend to have several lines of business and the time they can devote to each is limited. In this case, the booking system will ease the burden of taking bookings and simplifying all customer interactions.
Charles again: “The smallest of customers with just a handful of pitches that takes around 100 bookings a year would find it impractical to operate without an online booking system that make running a small establishment viable. Dawn says smaller business still need to be a step ahead on the competition.
“As the parks around them go online, offering more convenience to the newer web-orientated generation of customers, they will eventually have to follow,” she predicts.
“A booking system will undoubtedly make your life easier but more importantly it makes your customers life easier.
“It’s a question of service, of talking to a new generation of customer in the way they want to communicate. “ The benefits are significant. Customer service can increase massively because the process is consistent for every customer.
Booking documents, welcome letters and other documentation, can all be automated so if there is an issue, you fix it one place and it’s fixed for everyone.
Dawn points out: “Cash flow is better and by automating collection of deposit and balance before arrival, no-shows are massively reduced.” Driving direct bookings is key to maximising returns, she adds: “Without their own booking system, the lion’s share of bookings will have a hefty commission,” Charles emphasises.
“People expect to be able to book online, at any time of day or night. Sites are keen to keep all their bookings in one place, to that end, when they receive calls they will either direct the customer to make the booking online or enter the booking online for them.
As one smaller site operator said: “I’m fed up with all the interruptions to manage phone and email bookings”.
This is a common theme, the amount of time a booking system saves is considerably more than people estimate. Online bookings automate the collection of money too which was always a time -consuming burden.
The management information a good booking system provides is invaluable, whether to manage guest arrivals, to prepare on site services, or to organise third party activities.
An interface to an accounts package is another way a booking system can reduce overheads, there is no need for double entry of data.
The data can also be reviewed to analyse the customer base and booking patterns in order to appropriately focus marketing activity.
But what if the system crashed and the great Internet in the sky lets us down.
Dawn admits, it can happen but urges: “A ‘cloud’ solution is a lot more reliable than your work PC and will have full backups.
“They are very rarely down and then rarely for longer than a few minutes.
“You can still print off daily arrival reports, the night before as a fall back, if you want to.” Unfortunately, nowadays, even the most clued-up of businesses are still vulnerable to a cyber-attack. As a result, the popularity of cyber-specific insurance products is growing.
While existing insurance policies such as commercial property, business interruption or professional indemnity insurance may provide some elements of cover against cyber risks, businesses are increasingly buying specialised cyber insurance policies to supplement their existing insurance arrangements, particularly if they:
• hold sensitive customer details such as names and addresses or banking information
• rely heavily on IT systems and websites to conduct their business
• process payment card information as a matter of course.
Many insurers, including Compass, include technical assistance with managing a breach as part of the insurance policy.
Adding-on cyber insurance cover is widely available, but as with all insurance, quality can vary and from an economical perspective, it would be sensible for parks to seek out add on products that ‘wrap around’ their existing cover.
First-party cyber insurance covers your business’s own assets.
Third-party cyber insurance covers the assets of others too, typically your customers.
With reliable booking systems out there, and supplied with reliable safety nets, we would urge you to take the leap for your 2020 bookings – and reap the rewards.