You build it so they will come.Come to play and celebrate. Come to meet and compete.
But what happens if they don't come and your facility isn't used to its fullest potential?
Sometimes, the answer to low community use of your facility can be found in the process people are forced to take to reserve your space. Your reservation process just might be creating more barriers than you realize. The good news is once you eliminate those barriers, you can improve your facility reservations, increase revenue and broaden your community impact.
These are the most common barriers to facility reservations:
1. People don't know about your space.
- They don't realize it is rentable.
- They don't know if it can accommodate all their needs when they need it.
- They don't know what your spaces look like.
2. Renting your space is a hassle.
- There isn't a clear, obvious process.
- People have to reach you over the phone or in person during typical business hours.
- Payment involves too many steps or feels risky.
3. Communication breaks down.
- They don't get the answers they need fast enough.
- The information they give you gets lost.
- You play frustrating rounds of phone tag.
You can improve facility reservations by modernizing the reservation process in a way that removes as many barriers to renting your space as possible. Let's see how it's done!
Barrier 1: People don't know about your space.
Solution: Increase awareness of your facility by posting your space online.
It seems obvious, but we've got to say it: People have to know your space exists--and that you're willing to rent it to them--before they can try to rent it. Even if your facility or park is a well-known landmark, people may not realize that it's available for the public to reserve.
Post your facility online, where people are searching for places to rent.
You can add your facility to sites like Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, your own website, your city's visitor bureau, or even better, a platform designed specifically for facility reservations. You know, like Spotz!
Add useful details to your online listing.
Information to include: description, special features, square footage, amenities, allowed activities, available dates and hours.
Not sure what to add? Poll your staff to learn the questions people most commonly ask about your space. Be sure your description includes that information. You'll reduce phone calls and save your staff the hassle of answering the same questions all the time.
Upload good venue photos to your online listing.
Photos of your space are vital to increasing reservations and cutting down on repetitive phone calls or emails. You’ll inspire people with what’s possible by helping them envision how easy it could be to hold a fantastic event at your venue. Include photos of the amenities or special features you listed in your description.
Some easy tweaks to your photography can make your venue stand out from the rest.
- Show what's possible in your primary listing photo. You'll inspire them to click on your listing to learn more.
- Focus on one thing. This way, the viewer knows what to look for or be impressed by.
- Stage the space. Don’t photograph an empty room. Consider taking photos when your facility is being used for an ideal event. You'll help individuals envision what's possible in your venue.
- Clear out random items. If there are too many things on the ground or on tables, your space will feel smaller than it is, less inviting, and like it will take more work for your customers.
- Shoot from different angles. Instead of pointing your camera (or your phone) toward the center of a room, aim toward a corner. This way, a smaller space won't look cramped, and a big room won't look overwhelming and cold.
- Get steady. Even a perfectly staged photo will be useless if your photo is blurry. Fix a blurry photo with a tripod (makeshift is fine!) and better lighting.
Advertise your space.
Include a link or QR code to your listing on your website, social media platforms, and email newsletters. Consider posting a sticker in your window that lets people know they can find and rent your space on Spotz.
Barrier 2: Renting your space is a hassle.
Solution: Improve access with a more modern rental experience, which will increase facility reservations.
Audit your entire rental process.
- Can someone rent or reserve your facility online? Or must they call or visit your office in person to fill out a request form? What form of payments do you accept?
- If you offer online reservation requests, how many clicks does it take to get from your home page, to search for your listing, to rent your space? Every extra mouse click is an opportunity for your customer to say "forget it, this is too complicated," and look elsewhere.
- Do you require a new user account for people to rent from you? Do your customers a favor and don't make them create, validate, and remember yet another new username and password. Allow them to sign up or sign in to your online reservation system using their Google or Facebook log-ins if they don't want to create a new username and password.
Ditch the paperwork, spreadsheets, and post-it notes.
- One culprit of too-many-mouse-clicks is legacy and city-wide management systems that were designed for accounting, not facility rentals. As a result, the reservation process is complicated and time-consuming. Staff create their own workarounds, such as DIY spreadsheets, to avoid using the complex system.
- Make it easier on your staff and customers by using software designed specifically for facility reservations.
Provide 24/7 access to your facility schedule with online reservations.
- When you host your facility reservations online, people can make reservation requests when it's convenient for them. With the right software solution, you'll still have control over who reserves your spaces and when. Your customers will appreciate being able to start the rental conversation without picking up the phone.
Make secure online payments a breeze.
- Instead of requiring a check for payment, offer an online solution that also accepts credit cards. An online payment processor, like Stripe, gives customers more payment options. (You can still accept checks or send invoices if people really want to pay that way.) Stripe accepts payments immediately, makes it possible to set up recurring payments, and gives customers a seamless checkout experience.
- Online payment processing saves time--for you and your customers. A payment processing solution like Stripe offers integration with accounting software (less data entry for your staff!), easy invoicing, security and fraud prevention, and many more features customers expect in 2022.
Barrier 3: Communication breakdowns
Solution: Keep all reservation details and communication in one place to improve facility reservations.
It happens to the best of us -- a note gets lost, a customer phone call isn't returned, Bob's handwriting is illegible. When these things happen, important details fall through the cracks. While some customers might be forgiving of these understandable mistakes, some will decide to rent elsewhere. What's more, poor communication between staff members reduces team morale, which can lead to even more communication and staffing issues.
One way to solve these kinds of communication problems is to keep everything related to a reservation request in one place: the facility reservation software.
The best reservation software will provide a threaded communication system that saves and organizes every message or email between you and your customer. Instead of sifting through email boxes, shuffling sticky notes, or decoding handwriting, your staff can simply log in and see everything that the customer communicated about their reservation needs--even if they talked to someone else at your organization.
When your reservation software facilitates better communication, your staff will be able to do more in less time. They won't waste time-solving problems caused by missing details but will delight customers by being ultra familiar with every facet of the reservation.
Spotz Helps You Keep it Simple!
The easier it is for community members to reserve or rent your venue, the better. Don't give people an excuse to look for a different facility or different neighborhood to host their event.
When you clear these common barriers that prevent people from renting your facility, you'll improve facility reservations and have happier, more productive staff. Spotz, the modern community rental platform, is dedicated to helping you keep your facilities full, your staff efficient, and your community members engaged.
Curious what other benefits Spotz provides venue hosts? Check out our online demo or schedule a call with one of our Community Managers. We'll show you how Spotz works and give you ideas to improve your facility reservations!