It seems that online booking systems are the way of the future.
Does that make the transition to cloud-based tools an inevitable necessity if you want your business to succeed in the future?
Outside of helping you stand out from your competition, what are the benefits of offering online booking options for your players? Do the benefits outweigh any potential hurdles?
Before making your decision, consider the advantages and disadvantages of online booking systems and tee time scheduling services.
Advantages of an Online Booking System
1. Your business is always available for reservations.
You're closed for the day. Does that mean clients have to wait until the next day to book a tee time?
Online booking systems mean your business is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In other words, your customers can make a reservation whenever it fits into their schedule (without you or your employees having to be there). Over $450 billion was spent by consumers online in 2017, and that number will only go up. Additionally, studies have shown that immediate availability when shopping for products or services dramatically increases the number of purchases or appointments.
With online booking, you'll capture more of the people looking to schedule an appointment or tee time.
2. An online booking system will reduce no-shows.
Customers who made a financial commitment by booking their own reservations are more likely to show up, resulting in significantly fewer no-show tee times.
In the event a customer does need to cancel, their spot automatically becomes available again so someone else can book it.
3. Online booking means faster payments.
An online booking system can require customers to prepay for activities and golf rentals.
If you currently do not have an online tee sheet, you have to wait for players to show up before you can collect payment for events or tee times. An online booking systems allow you to capture that new revenue as soon as players schedule with your course.
With an online booking system in place, all the info players need to schedule with your course is right on the screen. Because there is no need to call in to your course, you're able to spend more time managing your business and the customers in your store, and less time worrying about missed phone calls or phone tag.
5. You get valuable insight about your business.
Online booking systems come with a dashboard of analytics that help you quickly determine your most popular sellers. With at-a-glance data that is simple to understand, you're able to focus on creating offers your customers want the most–and grow your business by doing so.
Disadvantages of an Online Booking System
1. You need internet access.
Reliable internet access is required to check reservations and add bookings that are made over the phone. However, services like foreUP can be run on mobile internet connections. Given the industry's transition to online tools, it's a good idea to invest in the best internet service possible for your region.
2. You need to be ready for an influx of new customers.
More and more people prefer doing business online these days, so web-based booking software is a great way to attract new customers.
If you're running a small operation and have no means of quickly hiring more staff members or expanding your resources, the unexpected growth can pose a challenge to your operations.
3. Not all online booking systems are created equal.
Choosing an online booking software that doesn't meet your needs can be a real detriment to your business. It's important to do your due diligence upfront. Fortunately, a little bit of research now will save you immeasurable time & frustration in the future.
How to choose an online booking system for a golf course
1. Choose a software created by people who understand the golf industry.
Without intimate understanding of your unique business needs, it's likely that current and even upcoming features could miss the mark.
2. Know what features you need before you demo a product.
Make a list of features you absolutely need, which ones you prefer, and which you'd rarely use. Does it integrate with your point of sale & customer database? Ask questions to see what features are or are not available with your new online booking system.
3. Talk about customer support.
Many companies will tout excellent and/or unlimited customer service, but the truth can often be disappointing once you're a customer who needs assistance. Dig in to see what their policies and limits are, and check out reviews of the quality as well as the timeliness of their support.
4. Find out how painful (or not) the setup process is
Especially during the middle of the season, it's critical to find a booking system provider that won't put you temporarily out of commission. Good online tee sheets and booking systems will be quick and easy to get up and running.
5. See how long they've been in business
With our transitioning digital landscape will come more and more options for online software. However, companies that have always offered only installed software will be rushing to offer an online option, which will inevitably come with a learning curve. That learning curve will mean unreliable access to your online booking system.
When even an hour of downtime could cost you valuable business, it's worth checking to see how long they've been "in the cloud." Companies that started as cloud-based will almost always be significantly more reliable than the late-comers.
Now you know the advantages and disadvantages of using an online booking system. Are you ready to take the leap?
Give us a call to schedule a live chat with one of our foreUP representatives or follow the link below to set up a free trial with our online booking software. You can also download the