If you take bookings for trips or retreats you design, you have a few options to accept your traveler bookings. You could do it the old fashioned way and get on the phone or email instructions for bank transfers or mailing checks. But more and more, the inefficiency of that model is not worth the perceived saving.
Travelers expect to be able to book travel online. This will be even more true post-covid. So you need a way to take online bookings!– Future of TravelTech Panel discussion with YouLi, Rezdy, GetYourGuide
Option #1- E-commerce.
You could make your own by plugging in a e-commerce solution on your website. That will cost you in terms of money to pay developers or time spent or potentially lost bookings since it won’t be as smooth a process as a platform dedicated to taking travel bookings. Plus you have to maintain it and keep up with the constant changes that code requires. This is the large fixed cost plus ongoing maintenance approach. Estimates on this usually start at $2,500 up front.
Option #2 – Booking Platform.
A booking platform is a piece of a software used for reservation management. It allows travel and hospitality businesses to accept bookings online and manage travelers’ bookings in a better way.
How is a Booking Platform better?
Any booking platform can take payments from your travelers, the questions you need to ask are:
1. When does that money settle into my bank account so I can pay suppliers?
Some platforms do not settle money (pay out to you) until 30 days AFTER the trip has completed. Crazy, right!? This can be done for new travel organizers to avoid the risk of fraud, but it doesn’t make sense for organizing group trips when the total deposits can be $10,000 and need to be given to suppliers to hold availability.
That’s why YouLi – Group Travel made Easy connects your booking Trip Page™️ to your Stripe or Square account. In that way your reputation with the payment gateway determines when your money is paid out. For Stripe this is usually 7 days. YouLi never holds your money!
2. Does the booking platform allow me to provide multiple payment method options to reduce my costs?
Credit cards are convenient and we recommend offering that option, but those (1.75-3%) merchant fees add up on trips over $1000. The YouLi platform allows organizers to provide up to 5 payment options:
*credit card online
* bank transfer
* call by phone
*Custom booking link – great for donations or supplier payment pages
3. Does the booking platform allow me to configure installments?
Quality travel experiences cost in the thousands of dollars/pounds/etc. so it’s important to offer payment plans. YouLi allows not only personalized pricing but also the ability to let them choose to pay all up front of in installments. Automated reminders ensure they pay along the way based on your schedule.
4. What fees are charged PER booking?
Fees per booking is a common model for booking platforms. Depending on how much marketing they do for you, these fees can be 14-20%. Platforms that focus on software features to support your marketing charge 2-10%. YouLi offers premium customers the option to play a flat fee per month and pay 0% booking fees as well as unlock the payment methods mentioned above.
When selling 3 group trips a year, priced at $5,000 per traveler, with 15 pax, that can mean the difference between paying $2,400 to use the software for unlimited trips and paying $4,500 in booking fees.
5. Beyond booking, what more can the platform do?
Anyone who has to ensure travelers get on the right planes and are prepared for their excursions knows that the work just begins when the booking comes in. So ask your booking platform:
- Are they able to streamline data collection so that it isn’t required before payment, but still gets done on time?
- Does it send automated reminders for pre-trip tasks and payments?
- Does it allow upsells AFTER the deposit has been paid?
- Does it allow couples and families to manage their booking in one place without increasing the work for the organizer?
Relaunch group trips with YouLi – The Software for Group Trips, and get your basic Plug N Play itinerary website for free. Plus a 1:1 onboarding Zoom call help you get started (Limited Time Offer).