Revolutionising the way that we live, work, shop, and communicate, startling figures from the National Office of Statistics revealed that 38 million adults in the UK accessed the internet every day in 2014. What’s more, 74 per cent of people bought goods or services online, up from 53 per cent in 2008.
The tourism industry is continuing to evolve around technology, with increasing access to information and services available at the customers’ finger tips. Guests now expect to see clear and representative images of accommodation and resort facilities online before they book. They want to read reviews, share other people’s experiences of the resort so they can decide whether or not it meets with their needs. And they expect to be able to do all this online, using whatever device they choose, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet PC, handheld computer or laptop.
“Users are booking when it’s convenient for them,” says Dawn Bee of website and business system provider Netguides. “Younger users don’t want to talk to anyone to book, it’s just not familiar behaviour for them anymore so they feel uncomfortable doing it. This means you are missing out on a lot of customers if you don’t take online bookings.”
Niall Norris of management and booking software CampManager concurs: “The number of holiday parks and campsites taking bookings online has increased dramatically in recent years,”
“We can see similar trends from all our clients across the UK, Ireland and France, that the proportion of bookings being made online is now averaging between 50 to 75 per cent of all bookings.”
Keeping up-to-date with the latest technology by moving to a computerised booking and management system may seem daunting, but Niall stresses the importance of moving with the times: “The right booking and management system will actually save you money, generate more business and free up so much of your time.
“We recommend that all parks to update their online booking pages and websites to be Mobile and Tablet compatible. We see clear trends that over 50 per cent of online bookings are now being made on Tablet and Smartphone devices.” He adds: “To ensure that you are catering for these customers and not losing out on bookings, it is important to address this immediately.”
CampManager offers a complete end to end process for managing a caravan park or campsite. Covering all aspects of site management, booking management and online booking, the system is user-friendly and can be tailored to suit the individual needs of each park.
“It is important to remember that not all visitors to your website have stayed at your park before. Therefore it is hugely important that your website is maintained as much as the park,” advises Niall. “An old and tired looking website, with poor quality photos will not attract new customers. Also a poor booking system that takes a long time just to check availability and does not provide alternative dates will frustrate your customers and potentially drive them elsewhere.”
The biggest change to online bookings that Dawn Bee of Netguides has seen in recent years is the move to mobile responsive online booking. Dawn explains: “There has been a surge in the popularity of mobile responsive bookings following Google’s emphasis in their search algorithm for mobile search and the growing use of mobile devices to book online.”
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