A growing number of marinas are specializing in pleasure craft rentals, including kayaks, motorboats, jet skis and stand-up paddle boards. If you're among this segment of activity operators, you're likely facing stiffer competition to attract guests. One way to stand out above the rest? By providing a great online booking experience for your guests. With the Internet serving as a major medium of communication in the travel industry, "web exposure is a major sales-driving force," IbisWorld points out in a recent study on tour operators in the U.S. "And consumers will increasingly use online trip planning resources."
Here are the top reasons your marina should accept online bookings for recreational watercraft rentals.
1. It Improves Customer Service
Rather than calling directly to inquire about available rentals and provide payment information over the phone, a growing number of tech-savvy travelers—at least 85 percent—are going online to shop for, and book experiences. So if you don't offer a great online booking experience, that's a big school of fish to miss out on in the ocean of customers.
And it's not just about catering to customers' search habits. With an online booking system like ZOZI Advance, guests will receive an automated confirmation email that can be fully customized to include any details of your choice, along with a reminder email prior to the experience and a follow-up email after. This allows for thorough and detailed communication between you and your customers, without having to play phone tag or make lengthy calls. And if maintaining that personal connection from the get-go is important to you, perfect! With ZOZI Advance, you can opt to accept pending bookings online, but still require a phone call to verbally seal the deal and confirm the reservation.
2. It Makes It Easy For Guests To View All Their Options
If you're currently taking reservations over the phone and find it difficult to clearly communicate all the details, consider how much time and effort you'll save by coordinating the entire reservation online. You're not a parrot, and your guests have better things to do than listen to you list particulars like package options and availability. Make it easy for folks to view all available rentals, seasonal packages, and special offers in one place.
3. It Streamlines Inventory Management
Inventory management. Those two little words carry a lot of weight for anyone who runs a busy rental business. Effectively reconciling available inventory and scheduled reservations can mean the difference between smooth sailing....or a totally derailed day.
An intuitive online booking system like ZOZI Advance brings your business out of the pen-and-paper age with real-time inventory tracking. It makes it easy to assess how many items are in storage or in "repair" status at any given time, and helps you forecast whether additional equipment will be needed for upcoming busy seasons, based on your number of pre-bookings.
4. It Makes It Easy To Book Packages
If you offer any type of seasonal packages or group pricing, you need an efficient system in place to manage multiple-person reservations and special itineraries. Relying solely on pen and paper reservations or a manual entry computer system—such as a self-created spreadsheet or database—doesn't always guarantee accuracy. Turn to an online booking system where you can set up packages and seasonal reservations in the backend, so the entire booking process runs smoothly.
5. It Simplifies The Add-On Process
Make it easier for guests to hand-pick their add-on selections during the checkout process. With an online booking software, the sky's the limit for add-ons: additional equipment rentals (wetsuits, rash guards, waterproof GoPros, etc.), classes, workshops, meals, or even souvenir purchases. This is an easy way generate additional revenue, as well as set your guests up ahead of time with everything they need for a fantastic experience.
6. It Makes Your Calendar Visible In Real-Time
Give customers access to your calendar in real-time, so there's never a question about whether a reservation is available or not. Using an online booking software with clear calendar visibility makes it much more convenient for guests to plan their experience. It also helps staff members gain an accurate view of how busy a particular week or season is going to be—all they have to do is check the reservations calendar that populates automatically.
7. It Simplifies The Pricing Structure For Custom Bookings
Offering tiered pricing for guests can be a great way to generate more business. Quickbooks reports on how tiered pricing can be a valuable pricing strategy for a small business owner, particularly because customers enjoy having a variety of choices at their disposal. ZOZI Advance's online booking system for rentals is designed for even the most complex rental bookings and pricing configurations. You can make full use of nightly, daily and weekly rental booking and management features to accommodate all types of guest requests without extra administrative steps.
8. It reduces the risk of no-shows.
The cost of no-shows can be significant when managing any type of rentals business. As Karen MacLaughlin, owner of Karen's Kayaks, points out in our post about reducing no-shows, it costs her company an average of $1,000 in revenue when someone cancels their trip. You'll find it much easier to implement and enforce your no-show and cancellation policy when guests are required to pay for their reservation upfront and agree to your policies when confirming their reservation. This can reduce—or even virtually eliminate—no-shows, so you don't run the risk of losing revenue every time a reservation is made.
From streamlining the rentals inventory management process, to providing guests access to a real-time availability calendar, accepting online bookings for recreational rentals can be a great value to your marina business.