Online booking: it’s all about customer choice

The fact is that the majority of travellers choose to book and pay for their holiday accommodation online.

It’s a brave new world out there. Most of us have a mobile phone that we check our emails on or browse the internet to find out information quickly. We use our laptops or tablets if we want to do a little more in-depth research or digging and when we find something we like we want to get it NOW.

That’s why it is so important to make sure you offer online booking for your self-catering accommodation. Cater for the ever-changing needs of an evolving nation to stay one step ahead and offer the very best customer service there is.

The best way to ensure you have happy customers is to make things as easy as possible from the very start. Your website is often the first contact your visitors will have with you and it’s where the decision-making process all begins. It is the start of your relationship if you like, so let them choose how they wish to communicate with you.

Visitors may love your website and the holiday you have to offer, but if they can’t book there and then you risk them continuing to browse and then booking elsewhere on a website where they can book online. Especially if they are browsing late at night and thought it was too late to phone you.

Online booking starts your customer relationship off on the right foot.

  • Visitors can see instantly that the dates they want to book are available, and they can submit a booking at a time to suit them. This supplies you with all of their details and contact information without having to relay it all over the phone.
  • You can then confirm and reply to their booking personally – by letter or email (which can be auto-generated if you use SuperControl PLUS – but can still be personalised), or by telephone – the choice is yours.
  • The visitors details are all stored in the online booking system (which is backed up regularly) so this becomes your CRM tool, saving information such as family names, pet names, birthdays, wedding anniversaries etc. so you are able to send your guests tailored messages and relevant news updates, or even birthday cards.

Think about who your visitors are, and it might give you an idea about when they are likely to want to book. If you appeal to families with young children, it is likely to be after the children have gone to bed and mum and dad have had a chance to have a good search online, so probably late evening. If it is a professional couple, they will probably be in a rush and want to place a booking quickly during their lunch break – they won’t want to risk a lengthy phone conversation.

Remember – online booking is simply an additional way for visitors to book. You can still provide a phone number, an email or even a postal address. You are giving your visitors the choice, and letting them choose the method of booking that suits them. Isn’t that what good customer service is all about?