Charles Darwin famously said: "It's not the strongest of species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change." And nowhere is this more true than in the evolutionary landscape of building a successful business.
But when's the last time you really looked deep into your operations and instituted a swift and compelling change to how you do things; responded to the ever-fluctuating competitive forces that present growth challenges at every turn?
From the updates to Google's mobile search algorithms, to the rise of bike sharing, to pricing and packaging your products and services more effectively, there's seemingly no end to the things you can do to improve your business and accelerate it's ability to attract and retain new customers. One great place to start? Online booking software.
Of the Goliath-sized $1.3 trillion dollar travel industry, 43 percent of that business is transacted online. By implementing an online booking system—which allows customers to book on your website or even a link in an email, and from any device—you're tapping into a huge (and still-growing) segment of the travel market.
Statistics aside, responding to growing trends isn't the only reason to implement an online booking system. Here are 7 reasons why reservation software is mission-critical for tour, activity, and rental businesses.
1. It's Good For Growth
Online booking software gives customers the freedom to book activities without your intervention. A survey conducted by Unisphere Research revealed that 45 percent of companies offering web or mobile self-service reported an increase in site traffic and reduced phone inquiries.
2. More Consumers Are Tech-Savvy Than Ever Before
Studies show 64 percent of Americans owned a smartphone as of mid 2015, and people aged 18 to 36 across the globe checked their smartphones an average of 43 times per day. Of those people, approximately 60 percent expect a consistent experience in their online experience with your business—regardless of whether it's on a laptop, desktop or mobile phone. Ipso facto? Basically anyone who grew up with a smartphone is probably going to take their business elsewhere if you don't have an intuitive online booking experience.
3. Your Biggest Customer Base Wants Experiences...And An Easy Way To Book Them
Speaking of tech-savvy customers, millennials, who make up a huge portion of today's consumers, grew up in an era defined by instant gratification in the virtual world. They expect technology to work—and if your website isn't delivering a smooth customer experience, they'll be gone faster than you can say "the struggle is real."
A recent Forbes.com article estimated that U.S. millennials make up approximately 80 million consumers as of 2015, and “are expected to spend $200 billion annually by 2017 and $10 trillion over their lifetimes as consumers, in the U.S. alone." A recent study also found these consumers—approximately 78 percent, to be exact—would choose to spend money on a desirable experience or event, rather than buying more stuff.
See how ZOZI Advance can help increase customer satisfaction, grow bookings and streamline your business operations:
4. People expect to be able to shop spontaneously, 24/7
Customers are looking for convenience. According to a 2015 PwC retail study covering 19,000 online shoppers, 46 percent responded the reason they buy products online instead of in stores is because they can shop 24/7. Millennials also tend to purchase spontaneously, so make this process easier for them by being prepared to take their business at any time of the day, even if your office is closed.
5. Customers peace out when any part of the booking experience is painful
Poor website navigation and payment processes leads to travel booking abandonment. A Jumio study listed poor mobile performance as being the cause of approximately 40 percent of mobile bookers to abandon their travel booking experience. This illustrates how a streamlined online booking experience—for both desktop and mobile—is crucial for overcoming these hurdles.
6. You'll be more profitable
More than half, or 55 percent of consumers would pay more for a better customer experience. If you make it possible for your customers to purchase their activity, tour, or rental experience at any time of the day—however they prefer, and without complications—it's a win-win situation: Your guests enjoy a hassle-free reservation process. You get more bookings. Good service is good business!
7. You'll have happier employees
Employees are happier when they feel successful. To be successful, your employees need the proper tools. There's nothing worse than showing up every day and having to perform acts of heroics to accomplish even the most mundane of tasks, such as updating schedules, figuring out inventory discrepancies, trying to take a credit payment onsite, manually sending multiple emails...we could go on. We've heard them all!
According to entrepreneur magazine: “Research released by the University of Warwick in Britain confirms that on average, happiness makes people 12 percent more productive…making workers happier really pays off."
The even better part of giving your employees smart business tools? You'll be able to take a vacation...and actually leave your cellphone and laptop at home. When the owners/managers of a company are happy and fulfilled, the positive mentality ultimately trickles down throughout the entire organization.
From the era of typewriters and rolodexes, to today's paperless offices, one thing remains critical to running a business: Delivering a great customer experience. But the tools for delivering that experience are getting smarter, more sophisticated, and easier to use—meaning change can be more empowering, and less daunting.