With customers across industries adopting online payments, most businesses today need to catch up with the trend, if only to stay competitive. Reservations & online bookings software usually allows a business to create booking pages, accept online payments, send instant notifications, book reservations and appointments, cancel registrations, and re-schedule meetings and appointments. Some programs come with even more advanced features, such as, organizing and analyzing booking statistics, adjusting time zone settings, creating customized schedules for a specific day or person, adjusting language and currency settings, and an ability to create image galleries and an attractive “Book Now” button. Read the full software guide...
Product recommendations, vendor rankings, market overview and tips on how to select Reservations & Online Bookings software for business. Published in December 2018.
With customers across industries adopting online payments, most businesses today need to catch up with the trend, if only to stay competitive. Reservations & online bookings software usually allows a business to create booking pages, accept online payme...FREE DOWNLOAD Reservations-&-Online-Bookings-Software-Buyer-Guide-2018.pdf
Reservations and online bookings software solutions facilitate employee, customer, or agent bookings via the internet. They essentially replace and enhance the process of managing manual bookings and reservations through phone calls and other relatively archaic means. As such, reservations and online bookings software solutions are quite popular among businesses and organizations in the service, travel, and hospitality industries.
Online booking and reservations software solutions are specifically designed for the benefits of customers, agents, and staff. They make the process of scheduling appointments, booking services, and/or accommodations; logging them accurately; and providing the customer with the best experience possible way more seamless and efficient.
It goes without saying that accepting reservations and recording them accurately in your database requires reliability and efficiency, which can sometimes be overwhelming and time-consuming—except for when good reservations and online bookings software solutions are utilized properly in the process.
For businesses and organizations, the main advantage of implementing a good reservations and online bookings solution is the convenience and accuracy it provides to customers and clients when availing of services online, which is typically done in real-time.
With this type of software solution, customers are also afforded safe and secure payment methods, regularly updated booking information, and a plethora of other features. These features not only automate and expedite the booking process but also enhance the overall customer experience as they conduct business with your company.
There are many different types of reservations and online bookings software solutions that are designed specifically for certain businesses and industries, such as hotel reservations, property rentals, tour bookings, and even high-end restaurant reservations. As such, reservations and online bookings software is only ever really classified into two basic types: one for smaller reservations and online bookings operations and the other specifically for bigger or large volume businesses.
Obviously, there are custom and all-in-one reservations and online bookings systems available in the market, which is great for organizations that can afford an AIO solution or a custom-made online booking platform that is capable of handling any type of business operation regardless of size or scope. But, if you are talking about fully-featured, out-of-the-box software solutions, there are really only two basic types. These are:
Small and medium-sized businesses/enterprises don’t really need reservations and online bookings solutions that are custom-fitted for their day-to-day operations. SMBs generally maintain a modest number of employees who handle a light to medium online bookings and reservations in terms of daily volume.
Thus, these types of businesses really only require a platform that can handle the basic functions that their operations need. Reservations and online bookings software in this category are often affordable and reliable enough that they maximize the value of the investment the company makes upon purchasing the software product.
This type of reservations and online bookings software solution is ideal for businesses and organizations with limited individual/group reservations like those companies offering classes, training, and by-appointment-only services such as health and wellness spas, human and animal clinics, medical laboratories, fitness centers, sports facilities, and so on.
This type of reservations and online bookings software is geared towards businesses and organizations that handle hundreds of online bookings and reservations per month, like big name hotel chains and major airlines that regularly maintain a large volume of business activity, both on the company side and for their customer base.
But, regardless of the type of reservations and online bookings software you go with, even if you opt for an all-in-one or custom-fitted reservations and online bookings platform, there are a few key features that should come with the software product out of the box.
The key features of reservations and online bookings software include data management, payment processing, customer and vendor support, calendar and scheduling functionality, automated updates, social media integration, inventory management system, mobile device compatibility and support, as well as ease of use.
The market right now is saturated with a wide variety of software solutions designed for different aspects of business across multiple industries. Even when you set your attention to a specific platform and/or service, like reservations and online bookings software, the sheer number of vendors and service providers out there can still make the selection process a bit overwhelming.
Finding the best and most effective reservations and online bookings solution for your business is a process that only you will be able to accomplish. Knowing what is best for your company, your day-to-day operations, and for your staff is something that only you will be able to figure out as well.
But, there are a few key steps you need to consider when shopping for a software product for your business. The first of which is identifying and establishing which features and functions you actually need to make the reservations and online bookings process of your business more streamlined, convenient, and efficient for everyone involved—both your staff and your target customers.
Once you have determined which areas of your online booking process are lacking, you can start doing research on the different products, vendors, and service providers available online. Be sure to take advantage of the free trial most vendors offer so you can have the opportunity to get to know the product before purchasing, signing up for a subscription, or before you move on to the next software solution on your list.
Free trails may vary in length of time, requirements, and the number of features and functions you will be able to use. Some products are available as a free trial for up to 14 days and after that, it will automatically subscribe you to a basic plan. So, you need to be careful of those as well. You don’t want to pay for a subscription that you didn’t really want.
Be sure to take full advantage of free trial products that allow you to use the full capabilities of the software. Don’t hesitate to test it out and see whether it’s the right fit for your organization. Once you find that the software solution meets your standards and your company’s requirements, dig a little deeper and consider doing research on the vendor or service provider.
Getting to know the service provider or vendor of the product you’re trying to purchase is just as important as knowing the software solution itself. You need to determine that you can rely on the vendor for support and maintenance of the product.
Even if the product is really that good and you can see a great use for it in your business process and day-to-day operations, if the vendor has been getting bad reviews from previous clients, then you might be better off investing your money on other equally good products from more reputable sources.
The next thing to do is consider the features and capabilities of the reservations and online bookings software you are interested in. Refer to the key desirable features previously mentioned in this article. Also, consider the price point of the product and see whether or not it is within your current budget.
But, don’t just base your decision on the pricing. Investing in a slightly more expensive product that is good, reliable, and feature-rich might be a wiser investment in the long run than opting for a cheaper software solution that really can’t match the demands of your operation.
If you really think about it, the features mentioned above should be reason enough for businesses to consider reservations and online bookings software solutions, most especially if they are in an industry that requires them to accept reservations and book clients for whatever services they are offering.
This kind of software platform will help increase productivity and efficiency for your entire staff, especially those stationed at the front desk that are tasked with accepting bookings and reservations. Such software solutions also help to make business and customer data more easily accessible. Users will be able to obtain the data they from a secure and centralized location wherever they might be.
The platform will also allow businesses to accept bookings and reservations at any time, 24/7. This is not only good for the business, but it will also be more convenient for the customers since they can simplify book schedules and reservations using their mobile device any time of day. Also, as far as payment is concerned, most reservations and online bookings software solutions have payment processing and security as part of its many features.
Automation, seamless integration with existing software applications, and a simplified process are among the many benefits of reservations and online bookings software as well. You can stop taking phone calls to log individual or group reservations and bookings. Instead, get all the information, times, dates, and other data from one single location. It’s quicker, much simpler, and more efficient.
|API||Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are programmatic intersections with external products or platforms that allow for custom integrations with your own solutions or other solutions you are using.|
|Batch Permissions & Access||Control user or group access and permission settings for software or other systems.|
|BitCoin||BitCoin support - a digital currency operating independently of a central bank.|
|Calendar Management||Manage and update calendars for scheduling or consolidation of events across teams, departments or business functions.|
|Chat||Live text chat with customers, website visitors, mobile contacts and others.|
|Click-to-Dial||Dial telephone numbers with one click.|
|Contact Management||Manage large amounts of personal or business contacts in a centralized system.|
|Custom Data Forms||Create custom forms to collect data and feed it into the database.|
|Customer Management||Manage customer databases and/or track outstanding shipments, payments and more.|
|Dashboard||Dashboards are digital interfaces commonly used to visualise data or give quick access to important features and functions of online platforms. They often serve as an overview gateway in software applications.|
|Data Export||Exporting functionality can be used to streamline the migration of data sets and information across systems, platforms or applications.|
|Data Import||Importing functionality allows you to use data sets from other systems or platforms to cut down on data entry requirements or to more easily migrate records from similar applications you have used in the past.|
|Data Visualization||Data visualization features render a visual interpretation of data sets through the use of charts, infographics and other visual cues generally in form of a reporting dashboard.|
|Email Integration||Integration with email clients or providers to create and send emails as well as view received emails within an application.|
|External Integrations||Integrations with other software products or platforms to improve efficiency and compatibility across systems.|
|Forecasting||Forecast upcoming expenses, sales, revenue, user levels, etc. through the use of predictive methods and past data.|
|Google Apps Integration||Integration with the G Suite, including Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Calendar, etc.|
|Lead Management||Manage business leads to improve sales outreach processes or stay on top of prospect inquiries.|
|Marketing Automation||Automate marketing processes, such as outreach emails, customer engagement, chat replies through the use of chatbots and others.|
|Multi-User||Supports more than just one user account and generally allows for collaboration with colleagues.|
|Notifications||Includes notification support and sends you alerts with information on important events and other time sensitive instances. For example through push notifications on mobile phones or email notifications.|
|PayPal||PayPal support allowing for the transfer funds electronically or online payments.|
|Scheduling||Schedule tasks, resources, appointments, payments, communications, etc.|
|Stripe||Stripe support as a payment gateway allowing you to accept payments online and via mobile apps.|