In the travel industry, enabling your customers to book online provides a tremendous opportunity for sales and revenue. But how do you enable online booking? Is a payment gateway alone enough, or do you need a booking engine software solution?
We will answer this question through these ten significant differences between payment gateways and booking engines.
A payment gateway is an online service that authorizes consumer payments. It is typically provided by banks, private companies like Paypal, Paytm, Citrus, Stripe and others. Payment gateways make it easy and safe for customers to pay you. However, if you only use a payment gateway on your website, you will be able to process payments from your customers virtually, but they will still need to contact you to book their travel reservations.
A booking engine, on the other hand, is a software application that integrates into your website and allows customers to make online travel reservations for flights, hotels, tours, and packages. They can come to your website, find out what is available, check prices, book their travel, and check out without ever talking to you.
You can get a tour booking engine, accommodation booking engine, car rental booking engine, hotel booking engine, holiday booking engine, travel agency booking engine. It all depends on the kind of business you manage.
As a tour operator, a booking engine acts as a tour reservation system which allows customers direct access to live rates and availability in real-time. Without leaving your website or talking to you, elements such as calendars, widgets, and booking buttons will inform them about what’s currently available and what kind of deal they can get. With a payment gateway service, these features are not provided.
It’s important that your customers have a unified experience of your brand throughout the booking process and many booking engine software allow this. You gain the ability to customize your fonts, colours, headers, and footers, so the booking elements blend into your current website. It helps customers understand they are sending their money to you and not another business. Most payment gateways are not as customizable this way.
A simple payment gateway does nothing to keep you connected with customers and to help you get more business. It requires you to create your own system to follow up with customers, send them their travel itineraries, check in on their satisfaction, and keep in touch to gain future business.
On the other hand, many booking engine systems offer automated email and SMS marketing. These services can deliver personalized confirmation emails immediately after a booking is made, provide customers with all of the necessary details about their trip, and can even stay in touch after tours to ensure customer satisfaction and encourage referrals.
While a payment gateway only handles payment processing, a booking engine manages all your offerings. As a result, many booking engine services provide a management dashboard and detailed reports and analytics. You can easily see which of your products are selling most, which aren’t, and can make decisions based on your findings to maximize profitability.
With booking engines, you have more options to customize the checkout process for your customers. For example, some services allow you to take small token payments and then automatically email a payment reminder for the remaining balance.
With some booking engines, you can send the same payment link to more than one person in case of group bookings. This way you don’t have to manage multiple payment links or wait for that lump sum payment from the individual who booked for 2 or more people.
Furthermore, you can hand pick the components of your booking form. This can help to avoid customers leaving due to forms that are too long and tedious. With a tour or hotel booking engine, you can choose the fields which are most important and only include those. A streamlined checkout will result in more people completing the process.
We all know the power of social media. You can engage a wide audience, funnel in new customers, and build relationships with existing customers. Booking engines can help your with your social media marketing for tours, activities, hotels and more! Some have features that let you set up promotions like discounts and gift certificates.
These can be promoted on social media by sharing the promotion’s URL. Your booking engine helps you change up your promotion images and supporting text displayed on social channels. Payment gateways don’t offer this. They only act as mediums to facilitate transactions.
Booking engines can also help you sell more. While a payment gateway simply processes the payment, a customer is booking their entire travel plan through a booking engine which creates the opportunity for upsells and cross-sells. For example, throughout your hotel or tour reservation process, you can include add-ons like a lunch buffet, bike rental, taxi pickup and drop-off, etc. Help your customers book a complete vacation package while also earning some extra revenue.
By integrating the software with your website, you take a large load off of your plate. You can focus more on providing advice, easing concerns of nervous travellers, and marketing your holiday packages, while the software takes care of the booking, storage of customer data, and follow-up. A payment gateway will not offer these same benefits.
A booking engine is truly a complete solution for those in the business of selling travel accommodation and tours. Processing the payment, while important, is only one small piece of the larger puzzle. More than 148.3 million people use the internet to make travel reservations for their accommodations, tours, and activities. That’s more than 57% of all travel reservations each year!
People want to instantly find out how much their travel plans will cost and want to book in an easy, streamlined process. An online booking engine makes this possible, while also allowing you to manage your inventory, travel agent commissions and your relationship with other resellers. A payment gateway is too limited in its functionality when compared to this.
Summing it up, booking engines are a more comprehensive solution to all of your administrative hassles when managing customers, suppliers and other resellers. Compared to payment gateways, which only allow you to collect payments from buyers, and don’t do much else. So, optimize your customer experience with booking engines, you and your customers will love it! Click here to try out the Vacation Labs booking engine today!