Zoom forward 10 years and we now spend more with Amazon than Tesco. We retweet, like and share, and we are just as likely to access the internet on our phone or tablet as our computer. Oh, and I guess someone turned teletext off. There are now generations of people who instinctively turn to the internet when they want to do anything. Despite all this, you still cannot book online with many specialist travel companies. In my experience, the reasons for this usually include a lack of appetite, skills or finance to get online booking working, belief that customers do not want to book online, a fear of exposing product or margins and therefore eroding competitive edge, or simply not having the fundamental businesses processes or technology in place for the thing to work.
I strongly believe that all travel companies should take bookings online, unless they have a very good reason not to. When I buy anything, if I have the choice between a company that puts all the information in front of me and lets me make the purchase online in my lunch hour, when I am abroad or even in the middle of the night if I want to, and a company that makes me call an annoying sales person at an inconvenient time, the latter is not going to get my business. And I want to know it is available, paid for and confirmed - enquiry forms just don't cut it. Online booking isn't for everyone, but companies that do not offer this service will potentially have to work a lot harder to attract business from the group of people that prefer to transact online.
So if your specialist travel business has a website that cannot take bookings, what do you need to do to start selling online?
1) Decide whether you should be selling online or not.
2) Get your back office processes 'web ready'.
3) Get the right technology products and suppliers in place.
4) Design your booking flow carefully.
5) Consider how you will handle client information.
Does your company have a transactional website?
What were the challenges for you when you prepared to sell online?
Have you decided not to sell online? Why?
Thinking about developing a booking engine and need some help getting the detail worked out?
...please share your thoughts and experiences by leaving a comment below!