Merging your pre-booked and walk-in reservations...
So you do walk-in business, and you also take pre-ordered reservations. Great....
But, the huge question is; how on earth do you manage to seamlessly integrate these two streams of your business? You need to make sure you never over-sell on any given product line for any given date / time. Tricky. We like to think of it as merging two fast-moving lanes of traffic on a busy freeway / motorway. (only more complicated!)
We all know what is at stake. You get it wrong and you risk:
There are really only two main approaches, one low-tech and one hi-tech.
1) The old faithful - the 'set-aside' policy.
This is what most businesses end up doing by default. In the old days, there was no such thing as 'online booking'. When someone would ring up (or perhaps email) and reserve some bikes someone would put the order in 'the book'. You know that dusty old thing sitting by the phone ...
"school party on 27th October - 50 bikes"
"2 adult bikes on 30th"
In theory, someone needs to check the order book each day and 'set them aside' so that you don't give out too many bikes to walk-in customers and not have enough to fulfil your order book. You might label them up with customer name etc...
Now, this largely okay when you don't have many advanced reservations to integrate, but as your pre-reserved numbers start to rise (which is a great health indicator of your business) so does the danger of using this approach.
Then you start to take online booking, so of course, your pre-reservation percentages rise. Now it's time to get serious about tackling this problem. The main limitations of this approach are:
Now we get down to the nitty gritty...
1.1) Auto-allocate your online bookings. BRM can auto-allocate your bikes so you don't have to worry about it. But this all depends on how accessible all your bikes are. No good BRM assigning WM304 if you'd have to move 50 bikes to get to it. (or if its broken!)
1.2) Manually allocate your online bookings. This way you get to select one that is sensibly accessible and ready!
So, what if you want to be more scalable, more sophisticated?
2) Just in Time allocation
Here you treat walk-ins and pre-books the same. You don't allocate specific bikes until the customer is actually in front of you, ready to go. Regardless of how, where or when the reservation was made. It is the ideal system because it is the only seamless way to integrate the two streams of business without causing delays etc.
Let's look at the pros and cons: