What is Live Availability?
Live Availability, also known as real-time, instant or book now availability, is an essential functionality for operators working in any online capacity. A live booking system is a cloud based/online system that manages your bookings and inventory for all your experiences, synching between your own site and any agents or partners.
Live availability will enable you to link a real time online calendar directly to your products thus allowing customers to book a date straight away. This simplified process maximises sales conversions and eliminates the manual booking confirmation process.
Why is RedBalloon shifting focus to real time/ live availability?
Live Availability is a huge deciding factor for customers when making a purchase.
You will know that at the moment any purchase a customer makes is bought as a 'redeemable voucher' which they then have to contact you, the supplier, separately to organise times and dates and a confirmation was expected within 48hrs.
Live bookings take away that extra step and essentially streamlines the customer experience. We see that customers are wanting more instantaneous bookings, they want a seamless and user friendly booking process, and they want to have the option to book now for themselves or buy a voucher for a loved one. Live bookings are key to enabling a fast, easy and sophisticated online system to use.
What will I get out of it?
We foresee the strong ability of live availability in driving conversion for your products. Our suppliers with this functionality are also reporting higher conversion rates using a live platform.
Most importantly, you will see cost savings from less time spent manually confirming bookings, and you will also be able to manage your bookings via a sophisticated online booking system all in one place. You will also have the capability to plug this booking software into your own website and other agency websites too.
We will also soon have a new facet that will show all available experiences on a particular day, therefore if you have availability on a given day that customers are looking for an experience, your experiences will appear on that refined list, gaining more exposure.
What if I like the way it is now where customers request a date and we manually confirm?
We will still continue to offer customers the opportunity to purchase a voucher and book at a later date. In the future, however, when customers redeem their voucher we would like the recipient to book a date that is from a live availability system. RedBalloon also highly values working with new suppliers that have live booking capability; we typically see an uplift in conversion from having this integration.
Can any business sign up to a live booking system?
Yes, any supplier who wishes to take advantage of live availability can sign up. There is no limit to how big or small your business should be to integrate with a live booking system.
How much does it cost?
Each platform has a different pricing structure so it is best to check with the provider for the costs involved but there are generally minimal fees. This can range from a monthly subscription, a commission or a percentage/charge for every booking that goes through the system.
Will you drop commission because I now have to pay a booking fee?
The commission you pay RedBalloon is a marketing cost to attract new customers. The cost of a live booking system should be considered an operational expense that should reduce your overall running costs.
Who shall I sign up with?
Each business will require different booking requirements and capabilities so it's important to explore your options before deciding the best course of action for your business. We currently have 6 live partners and our own availability system in the Supplier Hub.
Below are the partners we're currently connected to:
- LIVN GDS (allowing JRS and Respax)
- Booking Boss
- Bookarestaurant (Open Table)
- Bookeo *pending
- Supplier Hub (slightly different to the systems above, please click here for further details)
See the following article to find out more about these live partners.
Please note: RedBalloon has no affiliations with any of these live partners and as such, we recommend you find the right solution for your business.
I currently use another booking system not listed, will you able to integrate with this system?
We are looking at connecting with multiple booking systems, based on an assessment of the needs of our varied suppliers. We are identifying best in class booking availability systems that are robust, full of features and scalable. In order to connect to RedBalloon soon, we recommend one of our current live connections, which have been put through the paces and passes our strict technology assessment to have the RedBalloon stamp of approval.
We are using a bespoke booking system, what are the chances of integrating with our bespoke system?
We are currently only integrating with booking systems that multiple suppliers are using. If you are interested in changing booking systems, please consider one of our existing connections.