By Jannine Krish, Betterez
Many things get better with age, fine wine and vintage cars for example. However, many things don’t, and the last thing you want to be calling your bus or coach reservations system is classic.
In the ground travel industry, failing to keep up with technology is essentially handing potential customers over to your competitors on a golden platter, or simply encouraging them to maintain their current travel behaviour. Without access to the type of data that gives valuable insights into both your customers and business which modern online reservations systems can provide, how do you increase efficiency and profitability?
Your business should be constantly evolving to keep up with the times, and if your reservations system is not doing the same, you are capping your potential and likely increasing inefficiency in the way you operate. And let’s face it, inefficiency translates to less profit.
If you can relate to any of the sentiments below, it may be time to upgrade your system and improve your business efficiency.
5 Signs That Your Reservations System Is Outdated
1. You Can’t Easily Access Rich Data To Make Informed Business Decisions
Analyzing data in its simplest form allows you to predict customer behaviour, which in turn helps shape informed business decisions.
From ridership and capacity information to sales analytics and customer intelligence, a modern reservations system gives you access to this sort of data at the click of a button, allowing you to react quickly to current market trends and make better decisions.
On the other hand, an outdated system might give you an overview of your sales, but no insights into additional information that actually matters. It’s not enough to know that you made X in sales in a month, more importantly, which routes are the busiest, what are the popular travel times, how far in advance and what time of day do customers typically purchase their tickets, and are they buying single trips or weekly or monthly passes etc?
With this information at your fingertips, you can react to the market faster, develop a strategic approach to scheduling and pricing, as well as know which routes are more profitable, which ones are costing you money, and which ones require promotion.
2. You’re Not Keeping Pace With The Changing Mobility Landscape
Across the world, consumer behaviour has been heavily influenced by digital innovation. In fact, 48 percent of travellers in the United States confirm that they are comfortable researching, booking and planning travel in its entirety using only their mobile device.
A strong mobile booking platform can have an enormous positive impact on the bottom line for bus and coach operators. Such a platform is open and available 24/7. It requires 90 percent less staff to operate, it eliminates costly commissions, it opens you up to increased distribution through other sales channels and makes partnerships with other ground travel operators a much simpler experience for your end-customer.
Therefore, as a bus company, if you’re not offering online ticket sales with real-time availability via both desktop and mobile channels, you’re losing money.
3. Your Reservation System Doesn’t Scale As You Grow
As your business grows, your internal software systems need to do the same to meet increased demand.
Without the ability to easily scale according to your needs, you can expect to spend exponentially either trying to keep your custom reservations system afloat or battling with an off-the-shelf provider who is not meeting your business needs. This unfortunate situation can translate to lost sales, massive inefficiencies, and a failure to keep up with the changing ground travel landscape as noted above.
There are very few modern reservations platforms that operate on multi-tenant, cloud-based software, giving you the benefit of continuous innovation. Such a system enables businesses to focus on what’s important – for example, customer relations, marketing and business development, without needing to become an IT company at the same time.
4. You Can’t Measure The Results Of Your Marketing Campaigns
As the old marketing saying goes, “If you can’t measure it, don’t do it!” A robust rez system equips you with the tools to take your marketing campaigns further at half the cost. It lets you create custom promo codes to support online and offline marketing efforts.
As an example, you may decide to drive awareness of a new route by launching a 20 percent off campaign. The effectiveness of this offer can immediately be tracked so you can gain insights into how often it was used, who was using it, and assess the impact on ridership and revenue. This way, Finance will be able to determine the ROI, and Marketing can identify whether the objectives of the campaign were met.
Having access to real-time data from your system will provide various divisions of your business with up-to-date information that can be acted upon immediately.
5. You Don’t Know Who Your Loyal Customers Are
Bus and coach operators should encourage frequent ridership from existing customers as it costs far less than acquiring new ones. This is because after engaging in marketing to land new business, your ROI improves with every repeat ticket sale.
Loyalty programs have proven time and time again to keep customers coming back for more, and nowadays most big brands offer one. For your organization, being able to identify who your regular customers are means you can reward them for frequent travel and also encourage them to market your services to their friends by offering special promo code incentives.
If your online reservations system isn't letting you know who your loyal customers are, or if it doesn't allow you to set up a loyalty or rewards program, you are effectively missing out on improved margins as well as valuable marketing insights. After all, when people subscribe to a rewards program, they share pertinent information that can, in turn, be used to deliver an even better customer experience!
Jannine Krish, is the marketing director at ABA member Betterez. For more information about how Betterez can help you, email firstname.lastname@example.org.