As a venue manager, you’ve probably looked at the status quo and wondered if things could be different.
Isn’t there some way we can get our community more involved? How can we get more people into our spaces - and get more bookings while we’re at it?
It should be possible, right? But it might seem like it would take more staff than you currently have. You’d need people to market the spaces, give tours, communicate with customers, and chase down payments. They’d also need to coordinate and track the increase in bookings.
Feeling discouraged? Well, don’t be, there’s good news!
Innovations in facility reservation software in recent years means there’s now a way to dramatically grow rentals without having to hire more people.
Instead, carefully chosen software lets you reimagine public spaces, boost awareness of your venue, and skyrocket reservations. All for minimal expense. In this guide, we’ll explore how to choose it and use it.
The first thing to understand is what normally gets in the way of facility reservations.
Remove These Barriers to Increase Facility Reservations
Your reservation process itself is often the single biggest factor in low to nonexistent bookings. This is usually due to three formidable barriers it presents to would-be renters.
The first barrier is that there’s no education about your rental built into your booking process. So, people know little, if anything, about it. Maybe people don’t even realize your venue is rentable. They have no idea what a rental of the space would involve, and they’re not confident it can accommodate their needs.
The next barrier is that renting your space is a hassle. Perhaps there’s no obvious rental process in place, or the one that exists is inconvenient.
To book, people have to reach you over the phone or in person during typical business hours. Or maybe they’re required to create, confirm, and remember a separate user ID and password just for you. It’s also common that payment involves too many steps or just feels risky.
The third reason people don’t rent from you is that communication breaks down. Potential customers don't get the answers they need fast enough, or the information they give you gets lost. You end up playing rounds of phone tag. (And after that, cross your fingers no changes need to be made to the reservation!)
So that’s what you’re up against. Now, what to do?
The answer is simple - you need to modernize the reservation process. But don’t just take it from us “because we say so.” Instead, let’s go a bit deeper and break down the costs of running a business with and without targeted software.
Breaking Down the Cost of Facility Reservation Software
Handling rentals via a manual process typically costs much more than automating them. Why is that? The answer is that typically you’re paying staff an hourly rate to field phone calls, answer questions, and do data entry. In some cases, it can cost you almost as much as you earn from the rental to cover the cost of staff’s time.
On the other hand, the right software brings more awareness to your spaces while also providing a staff-free booking process. Once it’s set up, you’re eligible to rent out your venue many times over without any extra costs.
The Total Investment
Now, you might be thinking, “That sounds great, but it’s probably expensive…”
But no - it’s really not!
There’s a popular and effective solution that starts for free - and from there goes for an average of $10 or less a month.
Can you imagine paying less than $10/month and then seeing your space rentals multiply to the tune of hundreds, even thousands of dollars of monthly income? With numbers like those, it’s truly a no brainer to sign up for that platform!
Beyond money, the remaining investment is a bit of setup time. First, you’ll want to do an assessment of your current rental offerings.
Then you’ll want to use your new platform to its fullest, taking care to list the details of each individual rental space. Finally, create a plan for success as you go forward. This can involve telling your community about your spaces and your new technology!
Common Limitations of Parks & Recreation Platforms
You’ve understood why you need a quality facility reservation software. Now let’s talk about some common limitations of this kind of platform.
Parks and Recreation software is a great example of what’s typical out there. As popular and widespread as it is nation-wide, it’s also got some common drawbacks.
For starters, it tends to give a complicated user experience, involving PDF downloads and way too many clicks. Then, it tends to have hidden fees, such as IT services, staff training, processing fees, and add-ons.
In many cases, parks and rec programs are bloated with features that many facilities will never use. This complexity can get in the way of established workflows. In the worst cases it deters customers from renting your spaces.
Finally, you rarely find communication tools built into parks and rec software. This increases the likelihood messages will get lost, which in turn often boosts staff and customer frustration.
What Customers Wish Your Rental Platform Could Do
Now that you understand the dark side of common facility reservation software, let’s talk about the bright side, your customers' dream online rental experience.
The average renter wants to take full advantage of her community’s spaces. This means she wants to see lots and lots of pictures on her rental platform. She wants to check out ALL the options - even the unconventional ones - before making a decision.
Once she decides on a spot, she’s likely to book on her phone while she’s out with friends. (Mobile booking access is essential these days!) And for convenience, facility information, communication, and payments should all be in one place.
In the end, the last thing she wants is for the booking process to be complicated. An intuitive, smooth user experience is high on her wish list.
Finally, a priority booking option is ideal, in case she, as a loyal customer, wants to rent a favorite location again and again.
Questions for Choosing Your Software
As you’re starting to see, the rental software solution you choose must meet the needs of your team and your customers. Here are some guiding questions to help you choose the best platform for your facility:
- Is the software mobile-friendly?
- Is it cloud-based?
- Is it user-friendly?
- Does it overcomplicate anything, or add more steps to the reservation process?
- Are there a bunch of features I don’t need?
- Is it intuitive to learn?
- Are there hidden fees?
- What does training cost and how long does it take?
- Does it help or hinder internal communication?
- Does it allow renters to explore many different venues in an area?
- Is there a priority booking option?
- Does the software offer maximum convenience to the renter?
These questions apply whether you're choosing a rental reservation platform for a banquet hall, a church, a private sports facility, or a small business.
Pass this checklist and you and your new technology are off to the races!
One example of an application that does all of the above is Spotz. It’s software designed specifically to get your community spaces rented more often!
Using Facility Reservation Software to Attract More Renters
So now you understand more about your customers and what they’re looking for. Terrific! Next, let’s discuss how you can use your new rental solution to connect them with your spaces.
If you’ve chosen a cloud-based network with a searchable database like Spotz, then creating your profile is one more way to be found online. Put in the time to optimize your profile and stand out from the competition. You’ve got tons of profile real estate for pictures, amenities and other details - so use it!
Go ahead and answer FAQs right there on your booking profile. Your renters will appreciate it. You can also use your profile to communicate any special care you’re taking lately, such as extra sanitation protocols between events.
Finally, use custom space settings to give customers tons of options - while giving yourself plenty of ways to generate extra income.
- Make smaller increments available.
- Create more rentable space.
- Repurpose your main spaces.
Rely on the automation built into your solution to make sure you get customer service right - regardless of your staffing situation. For example, educate your team on one-click actions. That way they can efficiently approve, deny or cancel reservations with the click of a button.
Then, take advantage of automated work orders. Rest easy, knowing that customer requests immediately become instructions for your staff. Use your software's threaded in-app messaging to keep all staff messages in one place.
Finally, spread the word about your spaces and your user-friendly rental technology far and wide!
For Renters: How To Book A Space On Spotz
Let’s dive deeper into Spotz, since it’s the best example out there of the kind of facility reservation software purpose-built for flexibility.
For renters, booking a space on Spotz is as simple as 3 steps:
With Spotz, you can search for rentable spaces by location, space type, date range, or all of these options combined.
As an example, you can search for basketball courts in the Minneapolis area. Based on the parameters you enter, you’ll get a list of facilities to review and choose from.
Click on a facility to review the times available for this space. You can also quickly glance at amenities and add-ons to make sure the venue has what you need before you proceed with booking.
As you go, you’ll see the booking process steps listed across the top of the browser page. Just a few more clicks let you see and select available amenities and accessories the host organization has listed.
For example, you can see whether a gym has bleachers, a scoreboard, or a PA system. You’ll be able to consider adding on a divider curtain for a reasonable up-charge.
You can set up recurring bookings but also adjust individual dates. And you can relax knowing that work orders will be sent out automatically to facility staff for any options you selected.
Finally, check out with a credit card, or request to be invoiced. Either way, your messages and transactions will be shown to the host. Communication with the host will live within your profile, but will also be copied and sent to your email address.
Once you’ve completed check out you can rest easy - everything’s set up with the team at your chosen facility. All that’s left to do is prepare for your upcoming event - and then show up and play!
For Hosts: How To Set Custom Rules and Regulations For A Space
Spotz makes it easy to add custom rules and regulations for an individual space. Rules can be set for capacity, time limit, different user groups, and more.
To understand this better, let’s look at capacity limits.
Spotz allows you to either expand or reduce capacity limits as you see fit. Simply set your capacity limits and then require users of your spaces to agree to them and report attendance.
The exact steps for getting these limits set up go like this:
- Log on to your Spotz account.
- Go to the settings for a specific space, and set the latest rules and regulations.
- Finally, require each user to acknowledge and agree before booking.
That’s it! And the same process for changing capacity applies to any other rule or regulation you’d like to set.
Choose Spotz as Your Facility Reservation Software
Now you understand why Spotz is the leading solution for boosting non-overnight rentals. By providing a thoughtful user experience and incredible value, we’re getting people excited about using their community spaces!
Still have questions about what Spotz can do for you? For a more personalized introduction to Spotz, schedule a call with us here.