Properly managing equipment rentals, athletic fields and room assignments can be a job in itself for state, county and municipal departments, recreation facilities, organizations, sports leagues, businesses and other entities that offer these services. This is especially true for those who still rely on the traditional method of booking reservations. By traditional, we mean taking bookings and reservations over the phone, then manually entering them into a paper appointment book, electronic or paper calendar, or some type of spreadsheet.
If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of the appointment-scheduling and reservation-booking process, you know exactly how time-consuming and tedious it can be. It’s also burdensome for the person making the reservation, who may not have the time to pick up the phone and call during normal business hours.
Booking and managing reservations is an important task that cannot be overlooked. Thanks to online resource-scheduling software, providers of rental equipment, facilities and other services can quickly and easily get a handle on their scheduling processes and improve the way they operate.
THE BENEFITS OF ONLINE RESOURCE-SCHEDULING Equipment Rental Software
Cloud-based technology-i.e., Software programs accessible through the Internet-are making many operational tasks much simpler and more efficient. Such is the case for resource-scheduling, which this technology can automate and streamline. Similar to such services as online banking, social media and e-mail, online resource-scheduling applications are typically accessible in the same manner through a Web site or online portal. This factor makes it the perfect software program for organizations, municipalities and other entities with limited budgets and staff resources, as all that’s required to utilize the systems is an Internet connection. Typically, there are no downloads, installations or additional hardware involved when incorporating the Web-based software.
Not every facility or equipment provider handles their booking procedures in the same way, and some scheduling providers account for this by allowing the user to customize the software to best fit his or her needs. For example, the user can specify hours of operation and the types of rentals offered.
Functionality can vary among providers, but most generally offer such standard features as:
• Online self-booking. This popular feature allows individuals to book their own reservations online and at their own convenience, 24 hours a day. Many people simply cannot book over the phone during a facility’s normal business hours, which makes online services are growing necessity. It’s also beneficial to the municipality, organization or other entity, as it reduces the number of phone calls staff members must field from individuals calling to book reservations. This frees up valuable staff time for other tasks.
• Automated e-mail and text message reminders. “No-shows” who fail to arrive at their scheduled time are a burden to any operation that relies on reservations, as they take up available time slots and equipment that other individuals could have booked. Reminders of any kind can reduce the number of “no-shows” by over 50 percent. But many facilities simply do not have the resources to make reminder phone calls or manually send individual e-mail messages. Some online resource-scheduling software applications can automatically send these out prior to a booked appointment time. Users may even be able to specify how many days out the message is sent, such as one day or three days prior to the reservation.
• Reporting and record-keeping. Scheduling reservation times and equipment rentals is just part of the booking process. Another task is managing details and contact information. In traditional reservation processes, this usually involved separate files, folders, spreadsheets or other documents. Because resource-scheduling applications centralize all inputted information, all details associated with the reservation procedures is accessible and stored in one location. This makes it easy to gather and export the information. Some online schedulers also offer standard reports that users can easily create with specified fields.
• Online payment options. Many rentals require a fee, and permitting online payment of these at the same time an individual books can help further streamline the reservation process. Some facilities may even require payment prior to the reserved time, a practice that can dramatically reduce the “no-show” rate, as people are more likely to keep their reservation if they already paid for it. Inquire with the resource-scheduling provider to see if it offers this valuable service.
• E-marketing capabilities. Send messages, discounts, coupons, updates and other relevant information over the Internet has become the communication vehicle of choice for most facilities, municipalities and other organizations.