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Online Reservation Systems - Possible Cans of Worms

March 18, 2017

The Vidanta Online Reservation System was relied upon and heavily used by Vidanta's members. It was easy to use and displayed inventory that was available for use. Booking weeks was painless.

But, then a new system was introduced. It was to have replaced a relatively easy system with a much better one. Result: Disaster - no more online reservations and no announced replacement for calling the Customer Care Center to make reservations.

Is this a unique story? Evidently not. Consider the following experience noted in a weekly newsletter by Graham Jones, Internet Psychologist in London, England:

My car is due for a service, so this week I went to the local dealer's website where they have a rather fancy online booking tool. I entered my registration number and up came the details of my car. Then I was asked to select which day I wanted, and after that, I was allowed to choose a time slot from those that were still available. All well and good, you might think. So did I. It was particularly encouraging when I received an email confirming the date and time of my service appointment.

Two hours later, though, I had a phone call where I was told that the appointment I had booked wasn't available and that I would need to rebook. "But I have confirmation," I said. "Yes, we know," said the lady at the other end of the phone, "but the online booking system doesn't work because it isn't linked to the system where we book services over the phone."

Madness. If a company is going to offer an online app but then fail to integrate that with its existing processes, then it is not actually providing an online system at all. I see this all the time when I am consulting with businesses. They come up with fancy online methods which make everyone go "wow, that's brilliant", but then fail to back the idea with proper integration with existing systems. One of the case studies I use is of Marks and Spencer. They neglected to back their website ordering system with good logistics meaning they had to cancel people's orders just to cope. It's all very well seeking to have a fantastic online presence, but if you don't back it up with efficient and effective back-office processes, you may as well not bother.
Two observations, neither one of which makes us feel that much better because the reservation system is still broken:
  1. It appears there are companies whose management does not think through the entire process before offering online services, so we members of Vidanta are not alone in the world of cyberspace, and

  2. The result is a mess that reflects badly on the company and its management.
Yes, the system will be repaired, yes there is a professional project manager with much experience in the implementation of complex hotel reservation systems who is in charge of changing Vidanta's system, and yes, the process will probably take much longer than anticipated. Why? Because it is very likely the system will be integrated with more complexity in the form of the hotels at the Park. This last point is speculation on our part, but it is a logical extension of the issues the current reservation system has to deal with.

The surface is beautiful! But snafus created by not linking the chains that lead to great customer experiences tend to reduce confidence.
We support waiting until the system works before introducing one that doesn't....Stay tuned....!!