Excel has long been a tool used by travel businesses for managing and organizing operational and sales data. But in recent years, technology has produced some great online booking and payment software specifically designed with tour operators in mind.
The question for tour operators who haven’t made the change is, is it still worthwhile using the various excel templates for business management?
Should Tour Operators Use Excel Templates for Business Management
Many small travel companies and tour providers use excel to maintain their accounting entries, keep a record of travel itineraries, build on travel booking information. Quite simply, our familiarity with it means we use excel quite extensively for many business management related functions. With the right templates and formulas in place, it can be a very useful program.
However, there are areas where it is lacking as a management tool. And when this happens, it means that your business is not running as efficiently as it could be.
Let’s take a look at some of the downfalls of relying on excel templates for business management purposes.
Large Learning Curve
Performing functions such as entering data, formatting cells, saving, and printing are relatively straightforward. On the other hand, executing formulas and functions which calculate business revenue or sales growth, and draw information from different tabs or spreadsheets, isn’t quite as simple.
Often, even with tutorials which explain how to execute a task, it is pretty complex to master. Everyone who uses the data from the spreadsheets needs to be taught how to analyze it and what everything means.
It only gets more difficult as your tour operator business grows.
Room For Error
Studies over the years have shown that nearly 90% of spreadsheets have errors which affect their results. It’s not limited to small businesses either – it happens to all of us, including Harvard Professors, Barclay’s Bank, TransAlta, and JP Morgan among others.
Unfortunately, when you are dealing with large volumes of data, errors can be difficult to pick up. Whether an error in data input, formula input, copy and pasting information, missing out on key input fields, the risk is there.
Excel templates for business management may help, but they aren’t always necessarily a complete solution for your own travel company.
Missing Collaboration Capabilities
There is a distinct lack of collaboration opportunities when using excel spreadsheets to manage bookings or accounting for your business. That is unless you take everything onto Google Sheets.
However, while Sheets allow collaboration, they are still not a complete answer for tour operator business management. This is because the formulas are more limited than in excel, big data doesn’t handle as easily and slows down work, and overall, it is not as useful to use if you are offline.
Internally, businesses typically require various departments to work together. For example, reservations, accounting, and operations might all need access to the central booking system to get the information required to perform their relative work functions.
Without a central point that is accessible to the people who need it, when they need it, business efficiency is slowed.
No Automation of Tasks
As your tour operator business grows, the more admin tasks you can automate, the better. Using excel templates for business management purposes means that you still have to manually issue and send invoices, reconcile incoming payments, send out brochures or payment reminders to clients, keep track of bookings, etc.
Basically, it means hours of your time is spent performing admin duties that could be avoided by using software that automates most of the processes for you.
Risk of Data Loss
Another major problem in managing a travel business using excel is the question of keeping your information safe. Unfortunately, hard drives can be susceptible to crashing, and a computer virus might mean data gets corrupted.
Doing a daily data backup to a cloud, separate hard drive, or alternative storage solution is, therefore, a must.
The Better Option for Managing Your Travel Business
The better alternative to using excel templates for business management is to get your hands on travel software that can help you manage payments and bookings efficiently.
As software companies design their booking and payments platform with tour operators, activity providers, and travel companies in mind, this can be a solution more closely aligned with your type of business.
The software possesses certain features which make managing a travel business easier and more efficient.
Because your booking data is kept in a single place, various team members across different departments can access it at once.
You also have an overview of your client’s itineraries, activities booked, and travel preferences without having to switch spreadsheets or sift through rows of information.
Be Available All The Time Online
With a real-time online payment and booking solution, your travel products are available to clients all the time. This means your business hours do not need to be limited to the time you spend in the office.
Instead, you can receive bookings 24/7.
Get Paid Quicker
Efficient software can offer online reservations, automatically generate and send invoices for you, as well as instantly receive payments.
There’s no need to respond to a booking request, manually generate and send an invoice, wait for the payment to come through, and then have to check your bank account to make sure it has been received.
Ultimately this means the entire booking and payment process is effortless for both you and your clients.
Automating your admin tasks can save you a great deal of time. Your travel software has a central platform where you can quickly view the payment status of one or all of your client’s, automatically issue payment reminders, send out welcome emails after they make a payment, etc.
With less admin on your plate, you can focus on selling more tours and giving your clients the travel experience that they deserve.
Access to Reports
Need to know off the bat how many places are left to sell on your upcoming group trip? While the information might be more difficult to find on your spreadsheet, it is easily locatable on your booking software.
Similarly, want to check when the last time you paid a supplier was? Navigating to the panel on your platform will highlight when you last transferred funds to them using the integrated payment gateway.
While using excel templates for business management of your travel company can be a solution, it is not always the smartest one. Especially if you foresee business growth happening.
And even if you are operating on a smaller scale, using a payment and booking management tool like WeTravel is a huge time saver.
Watch the video below, or try out our platform for free to see how WeTravel can help you manage your travel business.