Online Vs. Enquiry-Based Bookings | KEEPING IT REAL

by Petrus Jacobus van der Walt October 31, 2017

A new era in adventure & activity tours has arrived!

Online Booking Adventure Travel South Africa

In keeping with the theme of South Africa’s first Adventure Tourism Summit, 'KEEPING IT REAL', Tours Africa would like to say that it was a privilege meeting you all and being able to make this summit a huge success. It is undoubtedly going to influence and benefit all of us as we continue to build our industry.

The coming together, sharing of ideas and listening to the selected key note speakers brought about a realization that the adventure sector of the hospitality industry is in its infancy. Wow, and what a big baby she is for South Africa, at R113 billion pa!

There is a growing awareness that South Africa has a lot to offer, and that awareness is expanding exponentially on the global market. We have a priceless heritage to share. 

The question we now have to ask ourselves: Online booking or enquiry-based bookings?

 Online Bookings Enquiry-based Bookings
  • Instantly confirmed bookings
  • Instant payment
  • Instant availability updates
  • Flexible
  • Time saving
  • Total control
  • Administratively cumbersome
  • Communication gets lost in transit
  • Availability updates restrictive
  • Double bookings
  • Waiting for monies
  • Time and labour energy consuming

 

Tours Africa (www.toursafrica.co.za) is the first activity and tour company in South Africa to package tour operators and activity suppliers together on one website where the traveller can book online, pay online in real time and live time. This leaves you as the activity company free to concentrate on what it is that you do best - creating happy, long-lasting, pleasurable memories for your clients. Visit our website and find out how we can help you.

To enable us to get to the global market there are a number of factors that we have to consider. Fair Trade, engaging local communities, planting the seeds of sustainable tourism, what operating systems to use, how do we enhance digitalization, the application of technology, the uses, our perspective of technology our fears and our hates!

Up until 2010 the hospitality industry suffered a dearth of technology. The South African industry was in a slump with a distinct lack of tech, in the form of booking engines and channel management systems at our disposal. The 2010 Soccer World Cup changed all of that.

At the time, the hospitality industry was unable to connect to more than one or two big powerful booking engines out there, as we did not have the capacity to keep our inventory live and up to date. It was all we could do to not have double bookings.

Who remembers Charts? A DOS based channel management system. One of the first, and what a nightmare, if you were not DOS literate! 

Then in 2010, technology changed the way forward, making it easier to handle multiple bookings, coping with multiple booking engines through a channel manager, and all of a sudden the world was our oyster. We had to learn a whole new set of words, CM, PMS, OTA’s, ORM, PPC, ROI, ect.

Now here we are seven years later, with the tour and adventure industry faced with the same dilemma the hospitality industry faced, all those years ago - real time, online booking vs an enquiry based booking system?

Today there are various booking engines out there. Some real time, others enquiry based. We know from experience that there is a hassle factor for our clients with the enquiry based platforms. The only remaining questions that we have to answer is, “Why do we not want to let go?" What is preventing us from embracing new technology? Fear of the unknown, stuck in a comfort zone, the hassle factor...what is it?

Franklin D Roosevelt said in 1945, and I quote, “The only limit of our successes of tomorrow is our fears of today”. Global smart technology dominates the world industry! Booking engines, channel management systems, central reservations, property management and point of sale, to name a few.

The question many activity and tour suppliers in adventure tourism are asking, as we navigate the landscape of the digital revolution: What is next, and what and how can we control going forward? The sales and marketing game is changing. If you do not engage, invest and get involved, you are going to find your business dead in the water.

Here are some thoughts of the leading world experts:

  • Social is King

With the advent of powerful community networks such as Facebook, Twitter,
Snapchat, Instagram, Messenger, etc., it is ever more important to be in control of your ORM (another of those new words) - Online Reputation Management. What is your audience saying about you or your brand, and what experiences are they sharing online. How does this effect you?

Pre-stay, in-house and post-stay experiences are all important. You can take control of these experiences during these three phases and take ownership of your guests. By growing your social exposure and engaging with more communities organically, it is feasible to naturally and easily increase your brand equity.

Those who have taken the opportunity to invest in proprietary booking platforms, enhancing the direct booking experience, will allow themselves to gain valuable insight into their guests and their preferences and this in turn will lead to measurable growth.

List your business and join our family.

  • Mobile is the medium

Mobile is certainly gaining traction and it is on the verge of overtaking PC’s and laptops, if it has not done so already. Transactional data has shown massive
gains and confirms the importance of being ‘omni-present’ in the mobile first world.

The key to encouraging meaningful engagement with customers is to provide a
more content-rich yet simple and mobile-friendly transactional model, which leads to growing brand awareness via multiple platforms, which is priceless in the organic search world.

To summarise the point of this article, this is the new dynamic market that everybody is trying to tap into in order to gain an advantage and to attract a loyal and trusted client base. Online booking!

Ultimately, tour operators and suppliers will need to stay relevant in order to capture market share based on the value of knowing what customers are looking for in the global adventure tourism market place. The ever increasing implementation of the various technologies has been a game changing strategy for many industry players and has catapulted customer’s convenience to the next level.

The hospitality and adventure tourism sector is known for being a multi-billion dollar industry, which relies solely on the obtainable disposable income and leisure time of the traveler.

The global market for smart technology is likely to witness a tremendous growth. The facets driving growth of the market includes a rise in the demand for software and services related to smart hospitality and mounting requirement for real-time optimised guest experience booking and management systems.

Technology has revolutionised the face of travel and the tourism sector all over the world. We need to continue to innovate the way we deliver our services to customers, incorporating both the benefit of technology and the human touch. Technology is on trend; both young and old are tech-savvy and digital advancements are everywhere. These days, the booking process for guests and travellers can be completed within minutes with the tap of a finger.

Likewise, we should welcome technological advancement within the industry, ensuring that we do not lose the human touch. After all we are doing this adventure stuff to fulfill a human need and desire. We need to commit ourselves to making technology work for us. If we need to introduce new skills and up-skill our staff, let’s look at the kind of interventions necessary to move the industry forward. When we do, our future will look a bit brighter.

Real time booking 

Tours Africa (www.toursafrica.co.za), is the first company in South Africa to offer live, real time, online booking for multi tours, adventure tours, day tours and multi day tours to the adventure tourism market. Tours Africa has been appointed by Tornado Systems as a wholesaler for the adventure and activity sector of Southern Africa. 

Take the plunge, join us and see how your business grows! To list your company, activity and tours, please contact us at tours@toursafrica.co.za.




Petrus Jacobus van der Walt
Petrus Jacobus van der Walt

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