Switching your booking engine can be a lot easier than you think. Here are a few tips gleaned from our clients.
But first a word of warning, it’s not just about cost savings. Whilst cost is always important there are subtler, seemingly less significant things that can actually make a much bigger difference to your business and your happiness!
The four areas I would say you need to understand well are the booking engine functions, it’s cost, the company and the switching process.
1) Evaluating the booking engine
Compare the functionality of each booking engine, focus on what’s absolutely critical to your business…don’t get side tracked by any irrelevant functions.
Speak to the various companies but then dig a little deeper by asking around – do you know anyone using that booking engine, what’s their view? Remember, an “oily” sales person will just tell you what you want to hear to get the sale!
Ensure the booking engine is flexible enough to handle your processes. It is one thing to have a function but you need to ensure it works the way you need it to.
You need these in black and white, good companies don’t need to hide or negotiate costs with every client – hiding prices usually means the sales team get extra commission by overcharging you.
Can you tailor their services to suit you? If it’s pay as you go, work out the costs – these tend to be the best value services because you are only paying for what you use.
Look at hidden costs i.e. how does their channel manager work and what control do you have over it? If you don’t have any control over which rooms are sold, when, where and at what price… this will increase costs.
Make sure you don’t incur any additional cost i.e. having to use a specific payment system.
3) Compare companies
Try to gauge how much each company really cares about your business. For example, the service and support role is currently in danger of dying off and finding a company that takes it seriously will make a real difference to your business.
Existing customers and social media are your best references when trying to get evidence of how a company treats its clients.
Ask about their plans, do they continually bring out new features, add services, are they innovative, what’s their reputation among other suppliers you work with….ask around. The best businesses are respected and loved by both their clients and partners they work with.
Look at the small print in any contract, does it tie you in? Do you have any penalties or notice periods that lock you in if you don’t like it?
How easy is it move over? Can you access the system to try it out first, even run it alongside your current booking engine so you are 100% certain. Is there a time restriction to get it running ? Beware of lock-in trials, you want to try it at your own speed.
Make sure the company you are switching to is ready to have you on board, do they have a dedicated switch team? If they are good they’ll have lots of experience and offer advice on the right way to set-up and which services are most suitable.
If they are really great they’ll give you tips and tricks to increase your business, remember they may have spoken with 1000s of small businesses just like yours.
Check if there are help guides or videos available to help you understand the new system (and work at your own pace).
Finally, timing is critical, it makes sense to do this kind of analysis when you have a bit of time on your hands.
The overwhelming feedback I have received indicates that all of the above is much easier than most think, there is no reason to stick with a booking system that doesn’t work for you……
I just wanted to finish with a happy switcher who got it all right…
” Wow this is amazing!! We have just reached 100 bookings in the last 30 days 9/12/16 to 9/01/17, on the freetobook system. Thanks for starting it all off, and can you thank the ladies in the office for help setting up. I wish we had moved years ago!! ” (Adrian at Seed Hill)
Thinking about switching to freetobook ? find out more here…