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The Key to Choosing the Right Online Booking Cutoff Time

Last updated on June 9, 2023
7 minute read
Key Takeaways

  • Be better prepared for your activities.
  • Set booking cutoffs as close to the tour start time as possible.
  • Each activity can have a different cutoff time.

Skill Level

Beginner, Intermediate

When it comes to the nuances of your availabilities, you can’t overlook your online booking cutoff time. This refers to the time at which an item should be closed so customers can no longer book leading up to the activity.

Setting the cutoff time too early can result in missed bookings and lost revenue, while setting it too late can create logistical challenges or prevent you from being fully prepared for the activity. 

In this guide, we will discuss how to find the sweet spot when setting your online booking cutoff time.

What is the online booking cutoff time?

The online booking cutoff time is the point at which customers can no longer book an activity or tour online. If they wanted to book the closed availability, they would need to call your business to make the arrangements, or choose another availability. Visit this Help Page to learn more about how closed availabilities can show up on your calendar.

The cutoff time can vary based on the type of activity, the number of bookings you have already received, and other factors unique to your business. 

Pro Tip: You can set online booking cutoff times at the item level, so each activity can have a different cutoff time based on the unique needs of the experience.


When should I close online bookings for an availability?

Determining your online booking cutoff time depends on several factors. Consider the type of activity you offer and how much preparation is involved. For example, if you offer a walking tour that doesn’t require much preparation based on the number of attendees, you could set the cutoff time much closer to the start time of the tour. 

On the other hand, if you offer an activity that requires more preparation, you may need to set the cutoff time several hours in advance in order to be sufficiently prepared. This might be the case for an activity like a guided glacier tour that includes lunch and equipment and needs a certain number of tour guides per customer.

When to close the item to online bookings can also depend on how many people have already booked the activity. 

For example, you may decide to close the item earlier if there are no bookings on the availability. This way, you won’t be caught off guard when a last-minute booking comes in to an otherwise empty availability—and you wouldn’t have to “waste” resources to run the experience for just a couple of people. 

In another scenario, you may choose to leave the item open longer only in the case that there is already more than one booking on an availability. In this example, since you’d already have several guests attending the activity, you might as well take advantage of the potential for additional bookings to fill your tour to capacity. 

Pro Tip: As a general rule of thumb, you should set your cutoff time as close to the start time of the activity as possible, ideally 30 minutes before. If you’re able to keep availabilities open longer, you may be able to generate more revenue from a single tour by catching last-minute bookers.

Using Custom Booking Restrictions for Specific Start Times

Custom Booking Restrictions are a tool that can help you customize your online booking cutoff time based on specific start times, keeping in mind the example scenarios mentioned in the above section. For instance, if you have a tour that starts at 7 am and no one has booked it, you may want to close that availability at 3 pm the day before to prevent last-minute bookings that you are not prepared for. 

In contrast, if you offer tours later in the day, you may be comfortable leaving the availability open until 30 minutes before the start time. Custom Booking Restrictions allow you to handle these types of requests with ease. For more information on setting these up, visit this Help Page.

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Making Online Booking Cutoffs Work For Your Business

Setting your online booking cutoff time is an important decision that requires careful consideration. Your decision will depend on a variety of factors unique to your business, including the type of activity you offer, the level of preparation required, and when you need to know the final capacity. 

Pro Tip: Use Dashboard notifications to never miss a booking! You can set notifications for your crew members to be alerted when a new booking is made, which can add an extra layer of protection when the online booking cutoff time is near the tour start time.

Remember, you can always change your cutoff time if something isn’t working for you. It’s a good idea to set a cutoff time based on the booking trends and habits you see among your customers. 

If the majority of your customers make same-day bookings, you likely would set the cutoff as close to the start time as possible, but if other considerations apply to your business, you may choose a time and evaluate how well it is working for you. Utilize FareHarbor reporting to determine when your customers typically book and consider this data in your decision making. 

If you need help determining the best online cutoff booking time for your business, don’t hesitate to reach out to FareHarbor Support.

By setting the cutoff time as close to the activity start time as possible, you can increase your bookings and ensure your customers have the best possible experience.

To set this up in your Dashboard, follow these instructions in the Help Center. 

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