Many tourist accommodation providers in Northern Ireland have expanded their marketing channels in the last two years to become online and bookable. If you are a tourist accommodation provider the benefits for using an online booking channel can include:
- Help manage your bookings - Reputable booking channel partners can provide easy-to-use online booking systems that also offer property management and reservation system options. This can remove the need for you to manually update multiple sales and distribution channels when a room is sold.
- Information at anytime - Customers can check availability, rates and special offers instantly at any time.
- Secure instant payments - Upon booking, customer payments (or deposits) can be made securely into your bank account and the booking is added automatically to your diary or reservation system (if applicable).
- Open your business up internationally - Booking systems allow customers to either book direct on your website (if you have one) or via the booking channel’s partner distribution websites. This opportunity provides a massive increase in your exposure to international visitors and your ability to attract direct sales from visitors who would have otherwise never visited your website.
- Website creation options - If you don’t have a website, booking system providers often offer site creation tools and templates to help get your business online. Some also offer website hosting services at an additional cost.
- Reservation management - Being online and bookable can help you increase your occupancy rates and yield as you can manage bookings easier, have a greater marketing reach and you have the ability to offer seasonal prices and promotions to your customer quicker.
- Guest review management - Some booking systems provide the ability to collect and display guest reviews on your website and on your various booking pages across distribution websites. Displaying positive guest reviews and responding publically to less favourable reviews can actually help increase online bookings. Reviews can also be a valuable tool in improving the quality of your product and services.
- Training & support – booking system providers offer customer support as part of their packages, but also can provide practical advice and training on online marketing to help grow bookings and profits.
Booking Channels for Small Accommodation Providers
Due to a ruling by the European Commission, NITB are no longer able to act as a third party in processing online accommodation bookings. Subsequently, NITB's accommodation booking facility (TIDInet) was ceased on 28th March 2013. Bookings made via TIDInet to take place after March 2013 will still be honoured and accommodation providers can still access details of these bookings using their TIDInet log in details.
To enable our visitors to still be able to book tourist accommodation via the discovernorthernireland.com website, NITB have agreed a partnership to offer Bed and Breakfasts and small Guest Houses and Guest Accommodation properties an online booking solution.
For Bed and Breakfasts and smaller Guest Houses and Guest Accommodation properties there is a partnership with B&B Ireland. You are also welcome to place the booking engine on your own website. Your B&B will then be bookable online via bandbireland.com and your own website. Please be advised that a link to any other booking distributor can be displayed on your profile on discovernorthernireland.com
If you opted into this system you should now have received an e-mail advising you of what to do next and your log in details. Your B&B will appear on the bandbireland.com website as soon as you have updated your availability and prices and have requested that your B&B be switched 'live'. Throughout this process B&B Ireland will be there to provide support and training to you to help with the process of becoming bookable online.
To avail of this online booking systems, or to get details of upcoming training opportunities for these systems, please contact NITB on Tel: 028 9044 1551 or via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
NITB in conjunction with Superfast Broadband NI have developed a 'Simple Guide to Smart Tourism' designed to help tourism businesses make the most of the internet.
The guide explains how you can become a smart tourism business by getting online and making the most of the internet. Download a copy of the guide here.