Technology has transformed many aspects of life in the 21st century, including the way many of us make reservations. Whether booking tickets for a show, a seat on an airplane or a room to spend the night, online booking systems make the process fast and easy. There are advantages to the system for customers and merchants.
How Online Booking Systems Work
With an online booking system, the customer loads the merchant's website or the website of the gateway agency handling online bookings, such as Ticketmaster. She finds the event or service she wishes to book by name or date, or whatever criteria the merchant has set up. After choosing the exact date, time, seat location and other specific criteria, she confirms her reservation. She may pay for the reservation or ticket on the spot, or use a credit card number as a guarantee to hold her place. The confirmation is usually available immediately as a print out page. Alternately, she may receive confirmation by email.
Speed and Flexibility
With online booking systems, customers have the freedom of choosing the service or merchandise among what is available and knowing precisely what they are getting. Since the reservation is made in real time, the customer receives immediate assurance that what he wants is or is not available. Also, because customers conduct their own transactions and receive confirmations, they are free to make changes during or even after the process, with a minimum of complicating factors.
Guarantees Against No-Shows and Fraud
Merchants can also protect themselves with online booking systems because many systems require payment upfront or a credit card guarantee to hold the reservation. Requiring valid email addresses and website registration, along with having software in place, which collects IP addresses, also helps to guard against online fraud. Booking systems can also be adjusted to require minimum stays or minimum purchase levels for users.
Precise Head Counts
By using an online booking system, merchants can have a precise running head count of purchases and reservations. Precise head counts can circumvent the problem of underbooking to avoid disappointing customers, or overbooking to make sure a sufficient number of actual transactions go through. The system can also be set up to record unique visits to the website to help the merchant collect information on how well the site is working to attract customers.
Online booking systems, like any software-based application, are liable to technical glitches. Regular maintenance and vigilant oversight are necessary to prevent small problems from mushrooming into big ones. Software systems without sufficient security guards in place are also vulnerable to attacks by Trojans. Because financial transactions are involved, special care must be taken to avoid identity theft and other fraudulent activity on the website.