Why should you use an online booking system? And when is the best time to start?
When you’re in the early stages of your setting up your kids activity classes, an online booking system can feel like a big investment. But an online booking system can give your business a strong foundation to grow from – it can do so much more for you than ‘just take bookings’.
It has the potential to transform your business, allowing you to grow faster, with less effort, and at minimal cost.
Here are some tips and tricks on how you can make the most of online bookings and supercharge your business.
- Build your list
Your booking system can seamlessly capture email addresses from all customers with a GDPR compliant opt-in. It makes it easy to send out info to your existing customers and remind people to come back to you. With online bookings, you’ll find your email list quickly builds up into the hundreds and thousands – with no extra effort! You can then use your list to announce the start of a new term, projects you’re working on, special events and offers – or even on a more regular basis whenever you’ve got spaces available.
- Be efficient with marketing
By taking bookings in advance, you can easily track at a glance which classes are undersubscribed or selling more slowly than you’d expect. It gives you an opportunity to focus your marketing efforts on the quieter classes and make sure they don’t operate at a loss.
- Do a priority pre-sale
Give your existing customers a priority booking period before the start of term with a secret booking link. Send three or four emails to drive early sales – first to announce the pre-sale and when the booking period will open, the links on the day of opening, and then 24 hours before the priority period closes.
- Create social validation
Use the opportunity to publicise whenever classes are ‘sold out’ and when you’re down to the ‘last few spaces’. This has the effect of creating more demand, because it shows your classes are popular and that other parents like them. Social validation and scarcity helps to encourage parents to book quickly and early.
- Know what works
Your booking system should help you track and analyse how your customers found you. This helps you know which marketing channels are working well for you and where to spend your marketing budget and time in future.
- Review your business
Use your booking system periodically to get an overview of the sales for your classes. How is each one doing? You can see which are profitable, and which ones have been a struggle – as well as track what type of tickets your customers are buying. A good system will also give you data on how old children are when they start with you, and how long your customers stay for. Armed with this knowledge, you can find ways to improve your timetable or change your marketing strategy.
Besides all this, a booking system will save you many hours in admin, as well as £££s in lost payments and customers.
Parents are able to purchase quickly and easily at the time they’ve heard about you. It reduces the risk of a no-show. And in particular for the under-5s sector, this can be important for a mum’s mental health. Booking allows her to make a commitment to get out of the house.
Skipping on using an online booking system might save you just £15 per month – but costing many times that in potential lost sales and time. There are extra features a booking system gives you too – like automated reminders for your customers, and a quick easy way to contact everyone in the event of last minute changes to a class.
It’s worth bearing in mind not all booking systems are equal. The best system for you depends on the type of classes you run, and the kind of tickets you want to offer. Some systems might be better for appointments, whereas others are better suited to summer camps – or classes at a single location.
We built Happity Bookings for baby & toddler classes. It can handle trials, sibling discounts, drop-ins, term bookings and much more. It gives parents a personalised map of your locations and seamlessly integrates with Happity Search for free marketing. Our booking pages are optimised to appear top of Google for things like ‘baby classes near me’.
Whilst you might not need an online booking system in your first couple of months of your business, it is a good idea to introduce one sooner rather than later. Without a system in place, the admin overhead can quickly get out of hand. You may find yourself keeping days free just for admin when you could have been running classes – or spending time with your family.
If you’re already in this situation, we can help. Our affordable concierge service can get you set up and ready to take bookings within 24 hours.
If Happity Bookings isn’t the right one for you but the choice is overwhelming, check out our blog on what to look for in a new booking system. 🙂