Social Media channels like FaceBook, Instagram and Twitter have been game-changing in the way online businesses conduct themselves and deal with their customers and prospects. Take benefit of this by checking if the online travel agency software you’re interested in has a social media profile. Keep a lookout for how active they are on their social media – do they respond to their fans and followers, when did they last post, and how many fans/followers do they have? In addition to social media, a lot of online businesses will have a blog where they can ‘open up the floor’ to their followers and support industry-related discussion. Check if the travel company you’re interested in has a blog and you’ll soon be able to tell whether or not they’re a suspect fly-by-night or an genuine travel company.
Find out what others are saying about the online travel agency you’re leaning toward by carrying out a quick online audit. A few search engine searches and you should be able to come up with some balanced reviews and testimonials.
The Internet is a faceless business and reputable online travel agencies should be easily reachable through channels other than their website. Check their website for valid business addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses. Some online travel agencies will have the option to chat with them directly from their website.
Check that the website has a safe and secure Internet payment facility. This is usually identifiable by a clickable badge that will take you to another page that displays the security certificate.
How much flexibility does the travel agency allow? In other words, how flexible are they when it comes to booking a flight online, how long do they hold the seat for you if you don’t pay immediately, and what is their cancellation policy? The top online travel agency will usually have a full customer support team and experienced travel consultants to help with any flight bookings for business and leisure travelers. Also, check on the added services the OTA offers. This will usually be things like SMS itinerary reminders and travel insurance.
What can you find out about the company on its website? You will usually find this information under the ‘About Us’ or ‘Company History’ sections. Avoid flying by night and try to book with a company that is established within the online travel industry. Look out for press releases and carry out some searches on local news websites to see if they’re getting any media coverage.
Finally, make sure the company you book through makes it clear what you need to bring to the airport when you fly. To get on the plane it’s usually an e-ticket (provided by the OTA), a personal identity document (passport if you’re flying internationally), and in some cases the credit card you used to make the booking (if that’s the payment channel you chose).
Remember that the services an online travel agency provides are designed to make your life easier. Sought out a good one and you’ll never have to bother visiting a bricks & mortar shop ever again.
What is cloud-based software?
With reference to hotel check-in systems, a cloud-based system is where everything is stored in the cloud. You will have drives stored somewhere else and everything that you scan or do on the computer is stored on those drives, via your Wi-Fi network. Even your software programs are stored on the cloud and accessed through the network.
How will this help a hotel?
Well, for starters, it will save space on the check-in desks because you won’t need to have driven all over the place and it will save space on the computers because nothing will be saved to their hard drives. Nothing will clog the system and make it run slowly.
Another positive is that you might not even have to have check-in desks at all. You could just have staff hanging around the lobby and they could have tablets or iPads with them and the customers can be checked in from there.
If you don’t like the look of people just standing all over the place, you could have smaller stations with two members of staff standing on each side. They could each check in with different customers. This will save you a lot of space in the lobby and you can use the area for other things.
With portability comes a lot of freedom for your workers. For example, they might be sent to a hotel room to answer some questions. The staff member will be able to have the software running on their iPad.
If the customer wants to change rooms, the clerk can see which room is available, check the customer in there and get the old room cleaned, all using the cloud hotel reservation system that is running on the cloud. The updates to the room will be immediate, so the check-in people, who are still in the lobby, won’t check any other customer into those rooms
Where is the cloud-based?
This depends on who supplies the software. Some companies will supply you with everything you need to have the cloud on-site and other companies will run the cloud themselves.
This might put you off because all the information is stored somewhere else. However, this is actually a massive advantage. For example, if you have the cloud stored at your hotel and something goes wrong, then you are going to have to wait for a technician to be sent out to you. If your supplier is based in a different country, this will be a third-party technician and you might have to pay extra.
If the cloud is stored with your software supplier, they can fix things from their end. This is quicker and most suppliers include maintenance in the cost of the software subscription. Furthermore, if there are any software updates, they will do it remotely at no extra cost and with a reduction in network downtime.
The best software companies should supply software that can run on a number of platforms so you can have any computers that you want. They should run on Android, Apple iOS and OS X, Windows, and even Linux.