You’re already aware that you need an easier booking process for your customers. Some help streamlining your operations wouldn’t be a bad thing either.
Many facility booking software options exist, but at first glance they may all seem the same. Which one should you choose?
Let's explore that question here.
When it comes to renting out your facility, you, your staff, and your customers each have your own set of dreams - and frustrations. The best rental software solution will satisfy all of you. It should delight your customers with its thoughtfulness and ease-of-use. For the host and staff, the ideal platform will lighten the load of the rental process, while increasing bookings and revenue.
So that everyone interacting with the software is satisfied, ensure your facility booking software has these 10 key features.
1. Renter Search Function
A renter search function lets renters browse all the community spaces they might want to book, with just one log-in on an online portal. Unlike in traditional facility rentals, customers don’t have to set up an individual account for each property they’re interested in.
And by the way, when we say all community spaces, we mean renters should be able to see any available community spaces for any community activity they can think of.
A baseball diamond? It’s there. A grassy field for a photo shoot? Check. A hair salon after hours? Double check. From tree houses to squash courts to meeting rooms and wedding venues… if it’s rentable for gatherings and activities it should be searchable—and findable —on your platform of choice!
2. Custom Space Settings
Your software should also give you maximum flexibility in the terms of your rentals through custom space settings. For example, it should let you subdivide a space in any way you choose, and for any length of time.
With custom space settings, you can split a room into two or more spaces or a large facility into hundreds of units. The possibilities really are unlimited! And keep in mind that the more options you can offer guests the more likely they are to book your property.
You can also subdivide an area by time. This lets businesses offer smaller time increments—and thus lower rental prices—to the community.
With software like this, businesses can get creative. We encourage you to think of all the possible spaces you can offer for rent, both indoor and outdoor, even a lap lane at a pool by the half hour!
3. Mobile-friendly and Cloud-based
Mobile-friendly and cloud-based are must-haves in the modern era.
Imagine Rachel, a tennis coach with an upcoming tournament. Her kids need to put in extra practice time, but all the usual courts are booked solid.
As she’s out for lunch with a friend, Rachel complains about all the tennis facilities she’ll soon have to call. But her friend saves the day! She pulls up a searchable, cloud-based rental solution on Rachel's phone. Right then and there local tennis court availability gets checked, and an attractive nearby court gets weeks worth of bookings right there on the spot.
That’s mobile-friendliness in action. It ensures your spaces are searchable and accessible to customers on the go which means you capture more spontaneous bookings.
Additionally, cloud-based software means no hiring IT experts to do updates or integrate a bloated package to your system. That’s a further savings and revenue boost for you.
4. Booking Widget
Loyal patrons have been coming to your site for years. And perhaps there's also a stream of new customers finding you through Google. Provide these website visitors with an easy rental reservation pathway to make them more likely to rent from you.
A convenient booking widget does the trick here. It also serves as a reminder that your facility is rentable! Make sure your software gives you the option to display this widget in either calendar or button form.
Again, the more ways your renters have to book, the better for you and for them!
5. Automates the Entire Rental Process
In the ideal facility booking software, most of the steps involved in renting your spaces will be automated, including getting answers into the hands of customers.
Here are some common automated steps:
- Renters browse a variety of spaces through vivid photos and thorough descriptions.
- They select a space that fits their needs.
- They choose any add-ons from a list of available amenities.
- Renters view nuances like insurance, block pricing, custom-booking, rules, restrictions, and temporary ordinances.
- They choose to book either a single use or a series of uses. (For example, choosing either a single volleyball practice, or weekly recurring practice sessions.)
- Easy check out follows, with a quick credit payment cementing the reservation.
- Confirmation, cancellation and updates are generated automatically, as needed.
All of this takes pressure off your team by reducing phone calls and emails. The result is a staff free to focus fully on customer experience.
6. Priority Group Management
If you’ve been at this for a long time you likely have relationships with your community.
You want a software that allows you to honor loyalty, such as long-standing agreements. Or you might want to give local residents first dibs over non-residents. Or there could be certain clubs you want to prioritize.
For example, maybe as a gym-owner you want to support an exercise club for autistic children. Choosing the right software means you can create a custom discount and give them priority booking. You can also specify exactly which space in your facility is “theirs” at which time.
We all want to support deserving members of our community. Make sure your booking platform allows you to give first right of refusal and custom discounts to specific groups.
7. Payment Processing
Your customers are learning to enjoy a seamless, time-saving booking experience with you. Excellent! A key component of this is the payment processing built into your software.
On the top facility rental platforms, renters can pay with a credit card through Stripe. This means easy invoicing, security and fraud prevention. It also prevents delayed or lost payment by collecting payment up front. On the back end, Stripe offers integration with accounting software.
All of that said, clients can also be invoiced separately if they choose. It’s all good! Just make sure your program lets you retain control. Your renters shouldn’t be charged until you approve the request.
8. Work Order Management
The right facility booking software automatically generates clear instructions for staff. It communicates any add-ons or amenities your customer has chosen—such as a rack of extra basketballs or a heated jacuzzi depending on the nature of your space!
These extras often make for supplementary streams of revenue as well. So, as a host, go ahead and brainstorm those add-ons! Don’t forget to list all the options your customer could dream of on your profile.
Then sit back and relax. Your booking platform will communicate customer choices to your staff as automated work orders.
From there, the backend of your software should allow you to run reports. Use them to evaluate which amenities get used the most so you can make better budget decisions.
9. Inventory Management
Overall, you want your software to simplify your backend. It’s important to choose a platform that lets you view all your properties and spaces on one dashboard.
This means you no longer have to track reservations and work order requests at different locations separately. Hooray for no more spreadsheets or wonky, improvised systems!
Make sure you can enter unlimited spaces - as many spaces as your properties have.
Finally, you want a robust backend reporting capacity. Look for a facility booking software that runs detailed reports on:
- Space usage
- Discounts given
This helps keep reporting free of headaches and data-entry! Just run, print and hand the report to your decision-makers and accountants.
10. Seamless Communication
Managing a venue can get hectic. Maybe a customer calls and makes a reservation with the front desk. That reservation then gets scribbled on a sticky note and hastily stuck in the reservation book - with the risk of falling out on the floor!
If any changes have to be made to the reservation, often phone tag ensues - sometimes lasting days.
The right software solves all of this. Threaded in-app communication means you can see message history at a glance. Updates, questions, and weather emergencies get communicated with ease. Messages don’t get lost.
And best of all, no more sticky notes, phone tag sessions, or loose papers are involved.
Make Sure Your Facility Booking Software Has These Features
Use this list as a checklist. Once you’ve found a platform that has every one of these features, you can rest assured it’s a safe bet.
Looking for a recommendation to start with? Spotz is a space rental software solution that has every one of these features - and more.