What is tour booking software?

Carla Vianna
Carla Vianna
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What is tour booking software?

Your inbox is overflowing with booking requests and you’re letting some fall through the cracks. If this sounds familiar, it might be time for you to invest in an online booking tool. 

When your booking volume becomes too high to manage on pen and paper, you risk overbooking your tours or overworking your staff. This can hurt your guest experience and company reputation. 

With tour booking software, you’ll remove the hassle that comes with manually managing your bookings. Instead, you’ll automate much of the process so that you can spend more time focusing on your guests.

In this post, you’ll learn when you should invest in tour booking software along with some key features to look for when you’re ready. 

What is tour booking software? 

Tour booking software is an online booking system that facilitates the booking process for customers. It processes new bookings and payments directly on your website, allowing guests to make a reservation whenever they want.

The software also helps operators manage all back-office activities, including tour availability, guide schedules, customer rosters, equipment inventory, and accounting.

Why is tour booking software important?

As a tour or attraction operator, you already have a lot on your plate. If you’re trying to manually manage your bookings, you probably don’t have much time left over to focus on growth opportunities.

Booking software streamlines your reservation activities, allowing you to focus on other essential tasks like marketing, hiring, and more.

Here are three reasons why tour booking software is important:

  1. Your guests can book tours 24/7. Your website will be generating sales even after you log off for the day. Online booking software makes it easy for guests to book and pay for their tours on their own time, without ever having to pick up the phone to speak to your staff.
  1. It helps you and your team stay organized. Booking software streamlines day-to-day operations by automating once-tedious tasks. The software keeps track of customer information, tour guide schedules, equipment inventory, and more.
  1. You will drive more direct bookings. The easier you make it for guests to book your tours, the more sales you’ll make. Booking software optimizes your website to drive more direct bookings. Big and colorful “Book now” buttons will be visible throughout your site and the guest checkout will be quick and easy. You can even set up seasonal pop-ups offering discounts or abandoned booking emails that remind guests to complete their reservations.

When do you need it? 

Some companies invest in booking software right off the bat. Others try to manage things manually until the booking volume goes up. Only you will know your company is ready to invest in a more sophisticated booking solution.

Here are three signs that tell you it’s time to make the investment:

  • Your phone is constantly ringing and your inbox is overflowing. More customers are reaching out to you than you’re able to handle. It’s getting so busy that you’re not able to get to every customer in time. As a result, you’re missing out on potential revenue.
  • No-shows and last-minute cancellations are draining your resources. Your booking software will securely store customer credit card information, which makes it easier to enforce cancellation fees. Some also offer a waitlist feature to help fill last-minute openings.
  • Your marketing is all over the place. You’ve lost track of how many promo codes and seasonal discounts you’ve put out there. You don’t know which ones have or haven’t been redeemed. Booking software will keep track of this for you.

Essential features for tour reservation software

When you are lookng for an all-in-one online tour booking software, like Xola, here are some key features you should look for.  

Online Checkout

When it comes to your online booking platform, having a booking widget and online checkout experience that maximizes conversions for online reservations (or bookings) is crucial. It should provide an intuitive customer experience that displays real-time availability while processing online payments.

A great online booking engine not only integrates seamlessly with a reputable payment gateway but also minimizes cart abandonment, thus boosting sales significantly.

Marketing & Growth Features 

Your booking software should pack a serious punch with automated growth tools designed to lead to more people booking tours. For instance, with Xola, you can create re-engage visitors and recover lost revenue with Abandoned Booking Recovery, set up Lightning Deals for less popular dates, times, and experiences, boost average order value with upsells, cross sells, packages and add-ons. These marketing features allow tour and experience operators to be more efficient while driving more direct tour bookings. 

Distribution & Resale

Broaden your visibility and earnings with an effective distribution and resale feature that integrate smoothly with all of the leading OTAs, like Tripadvisor, GetYourGuide, Google Things To Do, as well as destination management companies (DMOs), local affiliates and various other partners. This simplifies managing and promoting your tours or experiences across various sales channels, enabling activity providers to reach new customers and maximize bookings. 

Digital Waivers

Streamlining the check-in process with online waivers is a must. This functionality, which is free and built into Xola, should allow customers to complete waivers securely online prior to their arrival, speeding up guest check-in and reducing administrative overhead. Moreover, digital waivers are instrumental in gathering enriched customer data, which can be leveraged in your marketing campaigns to attract more customers.

And in a booking software like Xola, you can also attach customer questionnaires to online waivers, so you get additional details to provide more tailored, amazing experiences, which leads to happier customers and more online positive reviews. 


Turn data into a goldmine of insights with sophisticated reporting tools. At the bare minimum, your online booking software should provide accurate sales reports so you can see both online and offline bookings by channel. In addition, most booking software dives in deper with more rich customer data, marketing, and capacity utilization insights. This is essential for making data-driven decisions to inform future growth decisions. 

POS + Ticketing

Your booking software should also help with handling a high volume of in-person customers. These features, like waitlists, ticketing, POS, and virtual queues, is designed to facilitate quick, efficient payment processing, including integrated ticketing and managed entries, ensuring smooth operations during peak visitor times. This can improve the visitor experience by cutting down wait times and streamlining entry processes.

Staff Management

Automating staff and guide management can significantly streamline your operations. Your software should offer a centralized platform where you can handle staff schedules, task assignments, and communications. This not only enhances operational efficiency but also ensures high standards of service and staff accountability.

Product Management

Tour and activity operators should have the flexibility to adjust and fine-tune every aspect of their offerings, from scheduling tours to setting prices, all with unmatched ease. This control is vital for operators aiming to meet diverse customer demands while maintaining smooth operations. 

Equipment Management

Efficient management of equipment across different tours, activities and experiences is essential. Your software should prevent equipment double booking and ensure optimal utilization, thereby maximizing profitability and customer satisfaction. 

Customer Management

Make the most of your customer data to drive marketing efforts and encourage repeat business. Your software should enable comprehensive tracking of customer interactions and preferences, allowing operators to tailor their marketing strategies and service offerings for optimum impact. Effective customer management is key to providing excellent customer service, more positive user reviews on travel review sites and more bookings. 

Some additional things to look for when choosing your tour or activity booking platform

Finding the right booking software is like finding the ideal business partner. You want to find a partner that will support you at every stage of the business. A

1. Quick setup and easy to use

No one has time to spend weeks trying to understand a new software. You want your website to be up and running as soon as possible to not miss out on any bookings. For example, with Xola, it only takes one line of code and a few seconds to integrate the software on any site.

Meanwhile, the software should also be easy to use. This applies to you and your team as well as your guests. The booking process should be intuitive. For example, guests should never have to look for a “book now” button. It should clearly stand out from your site.

2. Smooth & secure checkout

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes, and go through the booking process on your website. The checkout page should load quickly and be easy to fill out. It should look professional and make the customer feel like their information is secure. Ask the company about how it securely stores customers’ credit card and personal information.

3. Mobile-friendly

Travelers are often booking experiences on the go. Many are booking their tours or buying tickets to attractions after they’ve arrived at a destination. And they’re likely using their phones to book. You want to ensure your website and checkout are optimized for mobile bookings so you can capture those last-minute reservations on the go.

4. Automated email and text notifications

Does the software make it easy to communicate with guests? Everything from booking confirmation emails to weather updates can be automated through your booking solution. The software can automatically customize each message with relevant information about the guest’s reservation and send it to them at the right time in their customer journey.

5. Integrations

Consider the business management tools you already use, such as your email provider and accounting program. Does the software integrate with your current apps? Find software that already integrates with the gift tools you already use so that you can manage all operations from a single system.

6. Access to data

What kind of data reporting will you have access to? Your software should provide you with a wide range of financial reports, such as cash flow and realized earnings. It should be able to identify your most valuable listings and booking channels, assist in capacity planning, and track customer satisfaction scores.

7. Gift card sales

Every operator is looking for secondary revenue opportunities. Gift cards and other add-ons are one of the best ways to boost your sales. Make sure the software accommodates gift card sales and allows you to sell extra services such as photos, food and drink bundles, and more.

8. Customer support

If something goes wrong with your booking software, you want to be able to contact someone as soon as possible. Ideally, you’d have access to 24/7 customer support and a dedicated account manager that helps with setup and troubleshooting any bugs. 

Manage your online bookings with Xola 

See why the leading tour and activity operators choose Xola to drive growth, process payments, and manage their online booking experiences. Ready to learn more about our powerful software? Request a free demo here. 


Writer Carla Vianna

Carla Vianna

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