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Bookings software not widely used

There are significant benefits for councils when utilising software for the booking and payments related to the hire of council facilities and assets. It removes a lot of manual processes and can free up staff to do other work. It also helps to facilitate the ease at which the community can access council facilities to the benefit of ratepayers and residents.

 

Our research indicates there are not many councils as a proportion using some form of booking software but we have observed a significant increase in the uptake rate recently. There are many different classes of booking software including open spaces, facilities, sporting grounds, gymnasiums, pools, etc. This article is focused on providers of open spaces, facilities and sporting grounds. The reason we haven’t focused on gymnasiums and pools as these are generally provided by off the shelf specialty software, including membership, Point of Sale, and tutorial software. Some of the providers shown do include all classes, and some councils use multiple providers.

Even though there are significant numbers of councils who either do not book out facilities for money, book facilities manually, or book them through spreadsheets there has been movement recently with two suppliers getting significant growth in customers. These are Bookable by Attekus, and Spacetoco.

Bookable is a reasonably new solution that has had a significant take-up in New South Wales and is now gaining traction in Queensland and Victoria. Customers seem very happy with the solution, and it has been very successful in delivering a roadmap that keeps customers engaged. The growth in customer base has been eye watering.

 

Spacetoco is a reasonably new solution that uses a very different model and charges a fee per booking, essentially an AirBNB model for bookings. The costs to get onto the system and SaaS fees are not high. It also creates a community where a number of facilities are searchable, irrespective of the organisation hiring them out, essentially creating a platform for hires and hirers. It has been very successful in WA and SA.

 

Ungerboeck is used by some very big councils and Priava has a well-established base. Programus has been successful as well and is considered a very substantial solution. Centaman has a number of customers and is used mostly now in leisure centres.

 

If you are looking for a booking solution in the near future, you should be looking at these considerations;

  • Ability to book single events, recurring events, multi bookings, seasonal bookings including additional items required by the hirer
  • Ability to cater for many different venue types
  • Searchable for hirers by the facility with a number of options to search by
  • Ability to pay using credit card (reduces debt collection)
  • Online booking for all facilities with no duplication of entry
  • The ability to manage events including ticketing for events
  • A good billing engine to cater for some complex fee calculations based on facility, hirer, and configuration of the facility. This fee engine should be easy to configure and modify as fees and rules change.
  • Remote Access Management
  • Integration to Financial Management Solutions with an emphasis on debtors.

 

Bookings software has the ability to help ensure council assets are utilised by the community and gain the council additional revenue for what would ordinarily be an underutilised asset and allow potential hirers to book anytime, and pay online. This helps reduce manual work, and debt collection.

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