Tour Tech

Ten Essential Features of Tour Booking Software

With so many options available today, it is no wonder that tour and activity operators have such a difficult time choosing (and staying with) a tour booking platform.
Ewell Torphy
12 minutes

To help alleviate the problem, we thought we’d compiled a list of the top 10 essential elements we believe are essential (should be required) of your tour booking platform. We’ve compiled this list based on those pivotal moments that occur within a guest’s booking journey – the ones that most significantly add to or detract from a successful reservation and boost the bottom line.

The truth is, however, that this list will most likely be out of date within a year. Lots of friction points occur in a tourist’s path to a confirmed reservation, and technology moves fast to alter that path and resolve the most troubling of booking obstacles.

Hence #10 on the list – to find a provider who is proactive and committed to ensuring their platform offers the most current and modern technology and processes – capabilities and preferences that are in sync with the latest whims of travelers and consumers in general.

So, here we go …

1. Seamless Booking Widget:

It all starts here, with a convenient way for guests to learn about your company, tours and offerings; select an experience and complete a reservation in a simple, streamlined manner.

Your booking widget should be easy to install, completely customizable to your company and brand and provide all the information a guest requires to confidently purchase an experience from you.

Additionally, the reservation flow should minimize any friction points while maximizing conversions AND average order values.

TIP: One unique feature of the TripWorks platform is the decision to capture a guest’s information early in the booking process – the result is a serious bump to overall revenue long-term.

2. OTA Integrations

There is no denying that Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) can be an excellent source of bookings for tour operations, especially those relatively new to the industry.

A solid booking platform should provide integrations with the most popular and profitable OTAs and assist in establishing these connections.

This is a basic requirement.

3. Cart Capture

An introduction is a wonderful thing – it provides just enough information about who someone is and what they like to do to allow two parties to carry on a conversation without further need of a host.

Think of TripWorks’ Reservation Drafts as that gracious host.

TripWorks collects the phone, email and other information about a guest and passes it on to the tour operator, even before a reservation is complete. Tour operators can use this information to rescue abandoned carts or provide a bit more personalized service when a guest arrives for their experience.

A gracious host or an intuitive, innovative, essential tour booking platform?

With TripWorks, it’s both.

4. Abandoned Cart Automation

Experts say that over 80% of travel-related shopping carts are abandoned before a sale.


So, needless to say, if you are in the travel industry, you must have an abandoned cart strategy and a platform that assists in the rescue of these potential guests.

TripWorks answers this call with two sophisticated capabilities:  Automated CRM and Reservations Drafts.

Automated CRM capabilities, such as Abandoned Cart Emails, allow an operator to compose a series of win-back emails that trigger when a cart sits idle. With TripWorks and most platform providers, you can create a single win-back email or an entire series. Using this strategy, tour companies say they successfully win 11% of these otherwise lost sales (not too shabby).

With TripWorks Reservation Drafts (a feature unique to the TripWorks platform), a guest’s contact information is preemptively collected and then passed to the tour operator even before a booking is confirmed. The benefit here, and it is a big one, is that tour operators can use this information to contact these unconfirmed guests directly – either by phone, text or email.

TripWorks customers say that this approach offers an 11% success rate, 11% over simply using automated emails.

5. Tipping

The hospitality/travel/tourism industry is the definition of a service industry, and, as such, employees, tour guides and service providers rely heavily on guest gratuity (tips) for personal compensation.

So, it stands to reason that as an owner of a tour operation, it’s in your best interest to ensure that your employees and tour guides earn the most tips possible.

Point of sale (POS) tipping widgets make maximizing tips possible. TripWorks customers tell us that now that they are using the TripWorks Tipping widget, their tips have not only doubled, but they’ve seen a 160% increase in tip amounts.

Travelers are happy to provide tips for exceptional service – and do so generously when the process is made easy for them. POS tipping widgets make tipping easy, with a simple “one-click” tap on a mobile device at the end of a tour.

Smart, simple – everyone’s thrilled.

6. Review Management

Good reviews propel a company. Bad ones can sink them.

Either way, reviews are critical.

Your booking software needs to be much more than just a reservation hub; it needs to serve as a comprehensive business management platform. And its capabilities need to extend to the collection and management of reviews.

TripWorks offers an automated means of asking for and collecting guest reviews.

The good reviews, they can be used to promote your tours and activities via your website, emails and other marketing materials. The not-so-good reviews, these require a quick follow-up with guests to understand where things went wrong, how to make things right and how to adjust going forward.

An additional benefit of the automated review process is the time saving provided. Staff no longer needs to spend vital time asking for (chasing down) good quality reviews. Now, the platform handles this automatically.

If your booking platform doesn’t assist with reviews automatically, well … might be time to review a few new platforms.

7. Channel and Demand Forecast Reports

Customers come from a multitude of channels. Prices change based on demand.

Companies who maximize profits know which channels deliver the most customers and what their product/service is worth at any given time.

TripWorks offers sophisticated reporting and analysis tools to help you determine your most successful acquisition channels. It also gathers data on travel trends to assist in forecasting demand for a particular weekend, day or trip.

Using these tools, you can decide to increase marketing budgets for a particularly lucrative channel or increase rates (and your competitive position) for a popular travel period.

You just upped your competitive position and your annual revenues!

8. Automatic Rebooking

Whether it is customer-initiated or simply a case of really bad weather, cancellations happen.

When they do, the effort involved in alerting customers can be tedious.

The effort to rebook all these disappointed customers can be draining.

The effort to save these reservations and ensure they are indeed rebooked can be automated – and should be.

A booking platform should have automation built into it that is clever enough to trigger the rebooking process with a single click,

Yes, with just one click, your system should initiate emails to everyone registered for a particular tour or activity and provide personalized links to allow a rebooking of an original reservation.

To be clear, when we say “rebooking,” we mean that the original reservation — all of the contact information, payment information, associated paperwork and additional purchases — are rescheduled for a new date.

  • No cancellation and new booking.
  • No re-sending and re-signing waivers.
  • No needing to remember that the reservation included a gluten-free picnic lunch for four.

Everything is included in the rebooking, even gratuity. One click. If it takes you more than this – change providers.

9. Variable Pricing Model

Most trends come about due to innovation, innovation in thought, logic and/or an innovation in reasoning. Someone says, “How come?” and another answers “How about this?”

Which is why the modern, innovative software providers are moving away from monthly subscription fees in favor of usage-based fees for their technology. This trend perfectly aligns the value and use of a product with the cost of that product.

When you pull up to a parking meter, you pay for the time you use. You aren’t saddled with the cost of the whole day when you only need a half day. And you aren’t limited to the last row of spaces when there are spots available right up front.

A variable pricing model allows part-time users access to the same set of features that heavy users enjoy without the need to jump to another subscription level. And because you are now saving on your monthly platform fees (or “parking costs”), you can invest a bit more in that new ad strategy or promotional campaign – which allows you to grow.

Logic, reasoning and innovation. Look for a platform provider with all three.

10. Innovative Platform Provider

And now we reach #10 — the need for a collaborative, engaged platform provider, one extremely committed to the continuous development of new features and the growth of their customers.

Honestly, the need for this last “essential” can’t be overstated.

The world is ever-changing, as are consumer preferences on how they travel, how they search for and book their travel, how they pay for their tours and travel, and how they expect to engage with tour and travel companies.

For example, tourists, travelers … people in general rarely carry cash anymore, so tipping with cash isn’t a reliable option for tour operators dependent on tips. Which is why a booking platform that provides a digital tipping widget is critical. They all don’t, only those dedicated to staying modern and providing the essential features.

Or, a tour platform that assists with overcoming abandoned carts. Abandoned carts are an enormous problem for tour companies, so platform providers that proactively seek solutions are those that tour operators should consider.

It is no coincidence that TripWorks tips the scales in terms of providing each of these 10 essentials. The TripWorks platform was specifically engineered to provide the maximum benefit to tour companies – max conversions, max profitability, maximum insights and analytics, max automation and maximum success across all facets of a tour operation’s management.

If you haven’t already, now is a great time to spend 30 minutes learning about TripWorks’ platform and the modern features and capabilities the software offers.

If nothing more, you’ll gain an understanding of what a fresh, technology-forward booking platform should be. And at best, you’ll be on that platform and maximizing your operations in no time.

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