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7 things online booking software for tours and activities don't want you to know.

7 things Booking Systems don’t want you know

activities art gallery booking system how to museum tour operator tours Nov 03, 2022

If you’ve ever partnered with a booking system in your business, you know there are certain things that they talk about that is sometimes, well, a bit too techy. Even if you’ve spoken to support and they are explaining why something has glitches or bugs, it can be, well…confusing.

Here are some things that Booking Systems do, that they don’t want you to know.

  1.  It’s a mess in there

Like with all systems, it was built specifically to do certain outcomes. Over time, as more tours, activities and tourism businesses start using the system, the need for new features and functionality is requested and developed. These are often developed within the constraints of how the framework was originally developed and sometimes “hacked” around it to make things work. As the system evolves with the market needs, and the hire of bigger development teams to keep up with the demand, the back-end can start to be a bit….well messy.

So if you have a feature request where you get a “hard no”, it usually as there is no way it can fit within the original framework without breaking everything else.

  1.  There are no hard deadlines

Is there is a feature or a ‘fix’ that you are waiting for and the support team can’t give you answer for when it will be done? This is because most tech companies work in an agile environment. What this means is that everything (including support) goes into a queue. Every fortnight, they go through the queue (which is like a huge “to-do” list) and prioritise what task needs to be done more urgently than the other. From this they may pick 2 -5 things and break these down into smaller tasks in order for that feature or fix, to be completed. They then priortise that list also.

Once they have all the tasks in order of priority, they work in a 2 week “sprint” where the development team works only on these tasks.

So while you put in a support ticket 3 months ago, it might be very low on the priority list to get it done.

Obviously, if something more important occurs within a sprint (such as an outage), then the tasks within the sprint get put on hold until the urgent event is rectified.

The reason it is done this way, is that when they are reviewing the queue and prioritizing, it is usually the things that get done first that will benefit the most clients.

  1.  You are one of many

If your online booking software is a SaaS (Software as a Service), then that means you are one of many clients that access the same database. If you need something specific for your tour or activity company, and it gets denied to be developed (or you have to pay for it), it is likely that your request will only be applicable to your business and no others. Remember, the booking system you are using is an “off-the-shelf” product and not customisable to you, and you only.

Whereas, if your request is added to the queue, it means that other tourism businesses have asked for the same thing and can benefit from it. So it will get developed as it effects many clients, not just one.

  1.  Things break

Like anything in life, things can break. You can get flat types, engine troubles, closed roads and so many things that can affect your business.

This is the same thing. If they are working in one part of the system, sometimes the code is slightly wrong, or it effects another part of the system that it is connected to that they weren’t aware of, which results in, breaking something else. They have stringent testing environments and QA (Quality Assurance) leads who review everything. However sometimes these “bugs” don’t appear until they are in the real world “live” environment.

When this happens, sure it can be frustrating, and all you need to do is lodge a ticket or call support to let them know. More often than not, they already know but sometimes it’ll be your call/notification that advises them of the problem.

If your Booking software asks you to pay a connection fee for your API connections, the reason is that APIs often break. They have developers available to fix these breakages and maintain the API to minimise any further issues. This is what the fee is paying for – developer wages.

  1.  Sales people

Yes we know. They call, then email, then call and call and then call again. Plus another email. It can get annoying when you are trying to figure out which system is best for your business. The sales teams run on “quotas”, so they often need to have a certain amount of signups per month and need to fill their sales pipelines. They sit in meetings (often weekly!) with their managers who go through their pipelines and get queried on them. The sales person may even say that you don’t want to hear from them this week, and the managers will reply “just try again”. The sales team then have to call you, again. And they log that they called you so they can show their managers.

Yes it’s awkward.

Also, the reality is, if they don’t make their quota consistently, then quite often, they are let go. So their jobs are often on the line for it.

We know it can be annoying to see their name pop up again, but our best advice? Be nice, and be honest. If you are going with someone else, let them know and tell them that they can close the deal to be lost. That way they can update their records and move on.

  1.  They have favourite clients

Yep they do. If you work with them like a partner, then they love you. If you are always angry and frustrated at them over things they already know about, then they don’t like you. And we know, sometimes you are frustrated about things, but yelling at support staff (or writing all your emails in CAPS LOCK), isn’t going to get you anywhere faster. It’s more likely to have the opposite effect and you won’t get as much access to things as others do.

One of the things they cannot stand, is when clients leave the platform for a competitor without actually telling them they were even looking to leave. This actually hurts you more in the long run as:

  • You don’t give them the opportunity to respond (just like if you have a visitor who gives you negative reviews but never actually said anything on the day).
  • Sometimes, things you think they can’t do, they actually can and you simply need more training.
  • They often have an “off-boarding” process to help you move to your new system. We have seen companies do this and leave behind over 2-3 years’ worth of data behind. You never know if you need that data (especially financials for tax reasons) later down the track. You can always ask for it, however the booking system is under no obligation to give it to you once you are out of contract. So the simple thing is, let them know that you are leaving and finish the relationship as a positive one. You never know, as you may be back one day.
  1.  They are leaner than you think

Booking Software for tours, activities and attractions are actually extremely affordable. They have quite low fees for the service they give tourism businesses. Many of them are backed by large investors or large tourism companies to help them continue on. Developers are in demand and demand high wages and they are the ones who keep the systems going. So if they are implementing price changes, it’s because they are often trying to get to the point where they are actually making a profit. However, they are also VERY aware of your bottom line and are trying to keep it low enough for you to run your business also. If you want to know how to make your booking system cost neutral then read our blog on it here.

So yes, like any business, Booking System have a variety of ways they operate and issues they contend with every day. Working with an online booking system as a partnership and understanding how they work will result in greater results and a happier relationship for the both of you.

Need to change booking systems and not sure where to start? Check out our “How to choose a Booking System” online, on-demand 1.5 hour course to help you get started.

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