It doesn't matter if you're running a small business on your own or managing a growing team: making use of an online booking system is a crucial aspect of running your business in this day and age. From streamlining the booking process to facilitating administrative tasks, here are nine ways an online booking platform will help you gain hours back in your day.

1. Your customers can book on their own, 24/7

Revenue generated from online travel bookings has risen more than 73 percent over the previous five years, with 57 percent of all travel-related reservations taking place online, according to research group Statistic Brain. That number is only expected to continue growing — worldwide. Today's consumers are looking for a quick, no-hassle way to book their trips, tours, and experiences. So if your customers aren't able to easily book your experiences online, you are likely losing business to your competitors.

If your customers aren't able to easily book your experiences online, you are likely losing business to your competitors.

By using an online booking system, you allow customers to check your availability, select their preferred dates and times, add their details, and make the payment — all from your own website. Added bonus: you'll capture customers who want to book on their own time, outside of your business hours and while you sleep!

2. You don't have to be on the phone all day

Tour and activity operators receive ceaseless array of phone calls throughout the day, it seems the only way to handle them is hiring additional staff members. It's a fact of the trade — there just aren't enough hours in a day to handle each and every phone reservation coming through.But with an online booking system you can have a calendar. Having a booking calendar on your webpage is just like having a call center handling reservations 24/7. With more customers booking online, you'll reduce the number of phone reservations. And, for the phone reservations that you do take, just click to add new bookings that sync to your calendar and dashboard.

3. You'll give customers your real-time availability - without having to tell them

Many of your customers call or email you to ask that one question: “Do you have availability on this date?" An online booking system, which shows customers your availability in real time (and keeps that information accurate and updated), cuts through that confusion. Making it that much easier for potential customers to find the information they need will lead to a boost in bookings. A study by Corporate Executive Board found that businesses who made the purchasing-decision search easier were 86 percent more likely to make a sale. So that little bit of clarity goes a long way.

4. You don't need to confirm or remind

Your customers may forget what day they booked or other details about their reservation. You may also spend hours sending reminders, information on where to meet and what to bring, and directions to customers. With an online booking system, you can customize emails that will automatically confirm the reservation and send your customers the details about their reservation.

With an online booking system, you can customize emails that will automatically confirm the reservation and send your customers the details about their reservation.

In addition, you can create and set an automated reminder email a few days before arrival to ensure they know what day they are coming and where to go when they get there. This is a simple process that is essential to your productivity and gives customers a professional first impression of your business.

5. You'll have booking and revenue reports at your fingertips

Online booking platforms like Peek Pro allow you to view all pertinent information you'll need for current and future reservations. As soon as a customer books with your company, the reservation details including customer information and payment history is recorded in the system. With just the click of a mouse, you can extract your customer database, review revenue for the previous year, or check statistics such as how many people booked a specific product during the last two months. This will allow you to fine-tune your offerings to increase your revenue.

6. You can find a reservation in record time

You've been there before: A customer calls or emails to modify their booking. Even if you keep detailed records on your computer, you'll spend a decent amount of time searching for the reservation and customer's details. An online booking system eliminates that hassle. With a booking system, quickly look up your customers by name or reservation number. This not only saves you time, but it greatly improves customer service. And since a study by ZenDesk found that 55 percent of people switched companies for a product of service due to a poor customer service experience, this image of professionalism is all-too important.

7. You always have all the required information

An online reservation system not only streamlines the booking process for consumers, but also requires customers to enter all the information you need to complete a booking. That means customers' information (name, email, telephone number, etc) is at your fingertips — and searchable— should you need it. You can even include custom questions in the checkout process for miscellaneous information that you want to gather, such as food allergies, expertise level for the activity, or T-shirt size.

8. You solve the issue of no-shows

It's a scenario no business enjoys, but one all too common in the tourism industry: no-shows. A customer booked with you, doesn't show up, and doesn't inform you. For the business, that means a loss of both time and money. Not only that, but it also means you missed an opportunity to give that spot to another customer. A booking system will give you the option to ask for a deposit, and get paid immediately using PayPal or a credit card. It's easy for both you and your customer, and at the same time it ensures you don't lose money when there's a no-show.

9. You'll attract quality customers while spending less time on marketing

You may be spending too much time and money with social media marketing and online ads without seeing significant conversions. Peek's online booking platform offers a unique way to guarantee large amounts of bookings. Called Peek Pro, it's the only merchant marketing program for activity providers that guarantees large amounts of bookings to ensure that your empty spots are filled throughout the year. You can check it out to learn more about how you can be a part of this program.

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