10 ways to improve your online booking
Any business or organisation that needs to fill spaces for events, courses or clubs knows that having an effective online booking system is vital. But there will always be ways in which you can improve the process, increase bookings and make the whole experience a lot smoother for your customers.
With that in mind, here’s our guide to the 10 ways that you could improve your online booking process and fill up spaces quickly and easily.
1. Easy to find
It’s all very well having fantastic booking software but if people can’t find it in the first place, you’re already in a difficult position.
If you have an SEO (search engine optimisation) strategy, ensure that your online booking software can be optimised for search engine results. Based on the search terms that people are using for your event, course or club, you can optimise the booking pages of your site to appear higher in the list of results.
2. Easy to use
No two businesses will have exactly the same customer booking journey. An individual who wants to book onto a soccer school will have different needs to someone booking onto a training course. And even within specific sectors, there will be subtle differences, booking a space for a badminton course will have different requirements to someone booking onto an American Football Academy.
It’s important to understand the needs of your customers and create a journey that makes it as easy as possible for them to make a booking. Have you tested your current system? Are there sticking points that you’re aware of from customer feedback? Unless you identify and solve them, they could be costing you money.
3. Easy on the eye
Usability is clearly the most significant aspect of any online booking system, but the design and layout of the page are also important. Your booking system will invariably sit in an existing website application or at the very least will need to reflect the brand identity of your business or organisation.
It becomes confusing and jarring if the booking element of your site has a different layout and style to the rest of your website. Ensure that as much thought that went into the design of your website also goes into the design of the booking pages that your customers will be using.
4. Anywhere, anytime, any device
Responsive website design is now more important than ever. It ensures that a website or web application looks good on any device, be that mobile, tablet or desktop. You’ll want the layout of the front end of your online booking system to respond to different devices for an improved customer experience. But it’s also important for the back end of the software to be responsive too. This means that anyone in the business can access information and edit the software wherever they are.
5. Speedy booking process
By adjusting the load time of pages, streamlining the processes involved and mapping out a customer booking journey, you can ensure that the time it takes to make a booking is reduced.
Sometimes, information may be requested during the booking process that could be left until after the booking has been made. By simply moving these further down the booking journey, you could significantly improve conversions and reduce the amount of customers dropping off half way through booking. In a perfect world, it shouldn’t take more than 2 minutes for a customer to make their first booking. Software with visitor recognition will also allow customers to make repeat bookings even quicker, loading up the details of their previous bookings to drastically reduce booking times.
6. Save time for staff
As well as saving time for your customers, it’s important to look at the ways you can decrease the amount of time that your own staff spend on admin work. Streamlining and automating processes will help them to focus on making sure that your events, clubs and courses are running smoothly.
7. Real-time reporting
An online booking system that provides detailed information about bookings and purchasing trends will not only save time but also give your staff much-needed business intelligence.
A real-time view of the way that customers are using the system, as well as up-to-date information about their booking habits and personal details, is vital. It will allow you to react quicker to their requests and adapt your approach to match their specific needs. Ensuring that your booking system can integrate with any other systems that you use will enhance reporting even further.
8. Upsell and cross-sell
With a thorough understanding of your customers’ needs, you are more likely to predict when they will want to rebook a space. As such, your online booking system should have the ability to upsell and cross-sell new events, courses clubs or extras to customers.
Extra functionality like the ability to book multiple courses in a single transaction or allocating discount codes will help to encourage further sales and increase occupancy.
9. Keep in touch
Once a customer has booked, that needn’t be the end of the relationship. An online booking system with the ability to record customer interaction can use that information to nurture customers after the booking has been completed. Integrating your online booking system with a CRM database of contact details will give you an instant audience for any future marketing messages that you might have. The extra functionality of automated email notifications will make this even easier.
10. Safe & secure
Safety and security are always important when customers are making online payments. So you’d expect your booking software to have security features that protect your customers’ data. But it’s also important to maintain security in the admin section of the software. An online booking system with the capability to limit access based on admin permissions will ensure that members of staff can only access the areas that are relevant to their role in the process.
By mapping out the needs of your customers and creating a booking journey to meet these needs, you can create a fast, efficient online booking process that makes it quick and easy for people to book an event, course or club. Which means you’ll start to see the phrase “fully booked” a lot more often!
Think simple, think fast, think efficient
At upriseVSI, we've developed our own online booking system, thinkBooker. Our clients, including Fulham FC and NFL team the Jacksonville Jaguars, have benefited from the highly-streamlined booking process that this can offer. Whether you need to fill courses, rooms, tours or events, thinkBooker has a proven track record of increasing revenue and providing a return on investment.
If you’d like to find out more about how you can improve your online booking, get in touch with one of our team.
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14 October 2016 at 12:00 AM