Off the Reservation

Posted on November 3, 2009 by R. Lyndon Burnham

Page 1 of 2

The technology sections of LCT’s most recent Fact Book shows 50% of operators surveyed still fail to take advantage of the Internet and online reservation booking technologies.

If you are among these operators, this article will help explain the advantages of moving to web-based reservations.

Such operators are missing a significant revenue and reservation resource. Many millions of reservations are being booked online with transportation companies each year.

A web reservation system is an Internet site that presents fares and vehicle service options to clients and allows them to place an actual online reservation and complete payment. A form on a website, where clients are submitting a request for information or rates, is not considered an online reservation system.

Here are 12 reasons why you should consider putting the power of the Internet to work for your business:

1. A company website is not required in order to accept online reservations.

A web reservation provider will build the site and tools you need to accept online reservations. If you already have a website, all you will need to do is add a link from your home page that will take your clients to the Internet reservation system.

2. Web reservations can be integrated with your office database.

This means that reservations that are booked online can be automatically downloaded into your back office system. Ask your office software provider for help with this. There’s no problem if you do not have a back office system. Most Internet reservation systems can stand alone. You simply log in to a website and retrieve or download reservation details. Most stand-alone systems will email you with alerts when new reservations have been made.

3. Web reservations are inexpensive.

Think of a web reservation system as a vast team of multilingual reservation agents on duty 24 hours a day. They don’t get sick or take vacations and they work on holidays. Most providers of web reservation systems charge a small monthly fee for the use of their system and/or a minimal commission per transaction. Review the cost and fee structures carefully, but generally when you compare the costs, you will find that they are substantially less than the typical agent-entered reservation. Most estimates for the cost of an agent entered reservation are from $8-$12, which includes salary, benefits, payroll taxes, utilities, etc.

4. Web reservations can reduce overhead.

As a follow-on to the point above, if you can convert your phone, e-mail, and fax-based reservations to web reservations, you will be able to reduce the number of office staff that are required to be working at any one time to enter reservations into your system. If staff and cost reductions are not a concern, then diverting phone reservations to the Internet will allow your staff to re-focus their time and efforts on elevating customer service levels or other internal tasks.

5. Increased accuracy and speed.

When clients place web reservations, they typically take 90-120 seconds to book a round trip (two reservations) to the airport. If the web system stores profile information and remembers previous visitors, that time can be cut in half as the system knows their address, contact information, and preferred payment methods. When clients enter their reservation details, the likelihood of miscommunication and transcription errors is eliminated. If there is ever a question about the accuracy of the reservation details, it falls back to the client.

6. Clients can manage their own reservations.

Most web reservation systems permit clients to login and then manage their reservations. If there is a change in flight details, for example, this can be managed by the client without involving a reservations agent. Giving clients greater control and responsibility for their own details tends to reduce the number of missed pickups and no-shows. Also, clients often can log in and issue themselves pre-travel confirmations or post-travel receipts. Corporate travel managers can have the ability to login to the system and monitor or manage their company’s reservations, saving time and phone calls to a call center.

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