By Madeline Parks
In the bus industry today, many rental companies are using outdated software out of habit. Reserving a bus for a customer involves sitting in an office, manually checking bus availability, and quoting the customer a fixed price– even when supply and demand could yield a higher price.
When a customer requests a quote, the process of providing a price can sometimes take up to several hours. During this time, customers are likely to seek out other companies that are able to provide a price more quickly, decreasing customer conversion by up to 60%.
Reservation software often costs thousands of dollars per year, along with added hourly fees for routine maintenance. On top of losing potential customers and leaving a large number of buses unused, bus companies are diminishing their profits by paying for outdated software that isn’t capable of keeping up with the modern consumer.
With this outdated software, companies are not able to book last-minute trips, track bus availability, monitor pricing in other regions, or track other relevant data, causing customer conversion to decrease as the number of unused buses increases.
A lack of up-to-date software is only going to hurt long-term sales. Though it requires an adjustment period, incorporating new software is necessary in order for the bus industry to stay relevant in our ever-changing world.
Real-time data analysis and online booking will not only improve customer booking experiences; they will also ease the burden of manually tracking bus availability and pricing by automating tedious day-to-day clerical work. The reservation process will be shortened significantly, therefore increasing sales opportunities.
With real-time data through modern software, companies can keep track of trends, availability, and various other data points. This allows them to provide a quote in seconds, making the customer more likely to follow up on an inquiry. Companies can also implement automated billing services so that customers can complete payment even outside of regular business hours.
The auto industry is ten years into a data renaissance like the one being described here and, as a result, all boats have risen.
In 2005, Dale Pollack launched a software called vAuto. vAuto gave an unprecedented level of price transparency to car dealerships all over the U.S. This data intelligence allowed a Chevy dealership in Florida, for example, to instantly know that a Honda Accord that was being evaluated as a possible trade-in would likely command a high price in their particular market.
This knowledge helped dealers to adapt to the growing number of retail consumers armed with internet research. Since these same types of consumers are calling bus companies and looking online to compare bus prices, it only makes sense for bus providers to implement the same technology.
New tools such as CoachRail.com are pushing us toward the future of the industry by developing reasonably-priced software for these bus companies. The software is poised to provide analytics and data on bus supply and demand, pricing differences in other regions, and more, along with the ability to provide customers with instant quotes.
Embracing technology like this will yield a boost in sales for bus companies of all sizes. With automated reservation technology, companies can leave software to do the clerical legwork while their employees are out of the office, allowing the company to capture sales during all hours of the day.
As more companies take advantage of these new developments, generating revenue with outdated software will become increasingly more difficult and, eventually, render some bus reservation companies obsolete.
The future of bus reservations lies in online booking, automated billing, and analytics. Instead of resisting the inevitable, it’s time to embrace these new changes and bring the bus industry into the 21st century.
Madeline Parks is a contributing writer for http://charterup.com