These various needs are compounded by mobile. The typical online user has come to depend more and more on the availability of mobile-responsive websites and instant reservation systems, and guests have fallen into the habit of booking tickets just hours before arrival. Managing and planning for capacity is growing increasingly complex, not least with the emergence of vendors such as Groupon. Run-of-the-mill software won’t cut it in this environment.
As Morehouse says, “We have our standard reports, but our booking and inventory calendars are often the standouts to tour and activity providers, because they make it easy to view and adjust course inventory in real time.”
PRE- AND POST-TRIP MARKETING
Email can be a potent tool, but many adventure park operators fail to take full advantage of the opportunities it presents. Every software rep I spoke to stressed the importance and value of pre-trip and post-trip email.And each email template needs to be mobile responsive, given that more than 60 percent of emails are now read on mobile devices.
Smith uses his Resmark installation to send out a detailed sequence of emails before guests arrive. The emails come with local recommendations, reminders to sign electronic waivers and, several hours before the scheduled arrival, final confirmation and details.
“Following the tour, we send out a survey, and if it’s a positive result we encourage them to leave a review,” Smith says. “If it’s a negative experience, it goes directly to management” for resolution and follow-up.
Similarly, Checkfront has an automated notification system that delivers timely information to guests. “For instance, you can schedule an SMS or email the day before, to remind them to bring sunscreen, water, or anything else that is needed. You can send an email once they have left the park thanking them, and asking them for a review on TripAdvisor or Facebook,” says Morehouse.
Smith encourages operators to take the time to evaluate systems thoroughly. “Don’t pick it lightly,” he says. “The one thing that I always warn people about picking these, make sure you pick the right one up front, because you’re going to put in a lot of effort. That software carries a lot of knowledge and information. There are things I love and don’t love about Resmark, but moving systems would involve losing all sorts of data, or having to export and transport it to another system.” That’s the ultimate nightmare.
A Software System Sampler
Here’s a quick look at the (relatively) low cost of the various systems.
Xola.com: $99/m for up to 2000 bookings p.a, higher volume plans available. “With Xola we have the entire back-office booking flow in one page, which makes it very fast and reduces drop-offs with phone reservations, as often people will give up if they are put on hold while trying to make a booking over the phone,” says Delamon Rego. Contact: [email protected].
The Flybook.com: From $49/m plus a small fee per booking. “You need to pick something that integrates with the entirety of the business problem; otherwise you’re adding a layer of complexity,” says Craig Langer. Contact: [email protected].
Resmark.com: From $249/m. “One needs to think about marketing, customer service, things that take place be-fore and after someone is strapped into a harness. Finding a business that helps you manage those aspects before and after is something that Resmark tries to excel at,” says Chip Broyles. Contact: [email protected].
Checkfront.com: From $49/m for up to 1,200 bookings p.a., higher volume plans available. “Checkfront enables self-serve booking and availability management, but with 50-plus add-ons, we make it possible to automate everything from partner commission tracking to digitizing waivers,” says Jason Morehouse. Contact: [email protected].