Why you need online bookings next to walk-ins to boost your business

Online booking April 22, 2022
waiting lines

Is your business running on walk-ins alone? Then you might be missing out on revenue. 

Why? Because most likely you can maximize your capacity, improve the guest experience and even open additional days to generate more revenue the moment you start with online bookings.

If your business has a waiting line every moment of the day, you may be right in claiming you don’t need online bookings. But even then, your guest experience can improve with online bookings. For example, you’ll be bookable 24/7, which means your guests can book whenever they want and are guaranteed the activity of their preference. With online bookings you create a frictionless experience for your guests that leads to an increase in guest retention and revenue.

We dive into the pros and cons of walk-in guests and how an online booking system can help you grow your business.

Pros of walk-in guests

Of course, having a walk-in policy could work well. Why?

  • Guests have no expectations if they didn’t book a time-slot, so they accept waiting times
  • You are flexible in opening and closing the venue
  • Guests feel welcome when they walk in and can enjoy an activity
  • While waiting, guests can play arcade games or have a drink at your bar – extra revenue for you
  • You don’t have any hassle with refunds
  • You don’t have to pay commission on online bookings

Cons of walk-in guests

If you rely entirely on walk-in guests, it makes your business uncertain. Why?

  • It’s difficult to predict peak hours
  • You don’t have insights in who your guests are and what their needs are
  • You don’t reach potential guests from a wider area
  • It’s difficult to know how many staff you need
  • It’s not easy to sell multi-activity packages
  • There’s a risk of long waiting lines
  • You can’t guarantee that your guests will have the experience they visit you for

Online booking software tackles all of these problems. Guests can book your activities online and it automates almost everything for you – from selling multi-activity packages to scheduling your calendar and predicting peak-hours. It makes running your business easier and helps you grow

Yes, you’ll pay a bit of commission for online bookings, but in return you’ll provide your guests with a smooth booking flow and you save a lot of time. Airsoft and laser gaming venue Unit 13 experienced this when they started working with Briq’s online booking system. As owner Berry explains:

“I feel like we’ve created a win-win situation where we pay with a small percentage of our turnover, but get a great booking process in return that serves to get as many people as possible to book our experiences.” 

Read more about Unit 13’s story in this case study.

9 benefits of running a business with online bookings

1. Become better at capacity management 

By focusing on online bookings, you have a clear overview of how many and when guests visit your leisure center and how much staff you need. It also gives you insights into the time-slots that are still open, which gives you the opportunity to fill the open spots

An online booking system saves you a lot of time that you’d otherwise have spent on phone calls and emails. With a booking system, your guests can book you 24/7 and the bookings are automatically scheduled in your calendar.

2. Get more insights to predict what’s to come

If your guests visit your venue whenever they want, it’s hard to predict for you when your facilities are being used. To know better what to expect, focus on reservations. It helps you predict how busy it will be, what your guests’ interests are and how much staff you’ll need. 

3. Use your data for marketing purposes

When your guests book online, you gather interesting data for your venue. It gives you insights into how many people booked when, what kind of guests or group sizes visited you and what kind of activities were popular. This is data you can use to generate more traffic to your website and webshop for more bookings with targeting and retargeting

You can also use this data to learn from for next year. If some activities were very popular, you know you need them next year too. But you can also try to combine these as a multi-activity deal. And if you see a time-slot wasn’t popular, you can think of offering off-peak deals or promote them more on social media and in emails

Learn how to get more bookings to data-driven decision making.

4. Sell multi-activity packages for personal experiences

When guests walk into your venue and your activity facilities are in use, they have to wait or can’t enjoy the activity they were planning to do. This isn’t the guest experience you’d like to have at your venue. To improve the guest experience and make it more personal, you can sell multi-activity packages in your webshop. 

These deals consist of two or more activities and can also include food and drinks. Per target group you can create different packages, to provide each guest with an experience they like. This could for example be a package for kids parties, a group of friends, a company outing or a family. 

5. Save time on planning the ideal activity program for your guests

With Briq’s multi-activity booking and scheduling software the innovative algorithm calculates the optimal activity program for your guests and automatically adds it to your planning. This means you don’t have to do this manually anymore. It saves you time and your guests get the best experience possible.

6. Increase your average order value with upselling and cross-selling options

As soon as your guests select an activity in your webshop, you’ll show other relevant upselling and cross-selling options they can book. This could be another heat of go-karting, an upgrade of equipment or food and beverages. 

This way, you provide your guests with more complete and personal experiences. This leads to more revenue and happy guests. 

Learn more about increasing your average order value.

7. Avoid long waiting lines to satisfy your guests

Although waiting lines at your venue show that your venue is the place to go, waiting lines can also cause you to lose guests. Not everyone likes waiting, because they’d rather spend the waiting time on an activity at your leisure business. They may leave your venue or go to a competitor. And you miss out on revenue.

So if most of your guests book in advance, you reduce long waiting lines. Guests who arrive at the expected time and immediately start with their activity will be satisfied with how smoothly everything goes. 

Of course, sometimes guests just walk in. So if you keep track of your guests’ behavior, you’ll become better at predicting busy hours. For these moments you can plan extra staff.

8. Your guests are guaranteed an awesome experience

If you sell your activities online, your guests reserve a date and time they will visit you. This way, there’s no chance of walking into your venue and getting disappointed because there’s no free spot left for them. They are guaranteed to participate in the activity they booked. 

9. Focus on a wider area with potential guests

Because your guests are guaranteed to enjoy the activity they book online, they’re willing to travel more kilometers. When working with reservations, you make it more attractive to people from a wider area to visit you. 

Post COVID-19 trend: booking a time-slot will stay

One of the corona measures the entertainment industry had to take was working with time-slots to avoid overcrowded places. Time-slots are used to avoid long waiting lines at the checkout and to regulate a good flow of people. 

If you use an online booking system, you can decide to limit your capacity and for example only sell 80% of your available spots. This way you ensure a safe environment for your guests and for your own employees.

We currently see that this trend continues. Time-slots improve the guest experience. Your guests choose their preferred starting time and are guaranteed entrance. They also make it easier to plan your staff. 

Read more about trends in the leisure industry for 2022.

Do you also want to sell your activities online?

Briq’s online booking system makes it easy for you to sell all your activities online. We build your webshop for you and give your guests a frictionless booking flow. With an online booking system you are bookable 24/7 and can make maximum use of your capacity

This way you have more time to spend on creating the best customized guest experience. An experience that starts online.

Are you interested in working with Briq? Feel free to get in touch with us or create an account, we’re happy to discuss the possibilities for your leisure center with you.

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