Is a physical front desk a thing of the past?
Corona has dealt an enormous blow to the recreation industry; the obligatory closing of hotels, campgrounds and vacation recreation parks resulted in a flood of cancellations everywhere. Fortunately it looks like the worst is behind us now and many rental companies have been able to catch up this season. Now our gaze is forward. We see that digitizing becomes even mor important for the guest and for the owner. What will the recreation business look like in the (near) future? Which possibilities are there for campgrounds, vacation parks and vacation rental organizations?
A personal note:
“When France opened the borders again for tourists in July, I decided to take a week of camping and surfing in France. Make a reservation online? Unfortunately not possible. You could only file a request online. After this is accepted you would receive a confirmation letter by mail. You had to bring this letter with you (seriously!). After a 20-minute wait at the reception it was my turn to fill out the passport numbers of my fellow travelers, wearing a facemask in 90 decree heat. After I paid may deposit I received a card for the gate and a map with an X on it. The friendly employee apologized that everything was so cumbersome. Around me, there were five front desk employees who were all filling out paperwork. Would they be aware of what the possibilities are in 2020? Luckily, in the Netherlands things have evolved a lot more, but here too, it can be done much better in many places. In this article, I will list eight pieces of advice about Corona-proofing your campground, vacation park or vacation rental organization, with the help of digitalization.
1. Offer the right online payment possibilities
When making a reservation on the website, the quest pays online with his/her preferred method of payment Mollie. Offer sufficient payment possibilities; at least iDeal (the Netherlands), Sofort (Germany), Bancontact (Belgium) and per Creditcard. We advise to set it up that the entire amount needs to be paid before arrival. By sending an (automatic) reminder per email to the guest far before the date of arrival, the guest can pay the remainder of the amount online. This work method decreases actions and prevents waiting time at the front desk during busy changeover days.
2. Inform the guest about rules regarding Corona
After the payment has been done, the guest receives an automated email with payment confirmation. This also includes information about the Corona restrictions that apply to the recreation company. At any time the guest can look up options him/herself in the guest environment such as bed linens, crib or to book a bicycle, submit the names of the guests and pay online. So, there is no need for the guest to call, email, or go to the front desk in person; it can all be taken care of in advance and it saves you a lot of time at the location!
3. Make sure that the guest does not need to get out of the car at arrival
During the online reservation, the guest is asked for the license plate of the vehicle of the guest. If you have a good gate with a camera, that can be linked to an online reservation software, then the license plate will be recognized and the gate will open automatically (if complete payment was done in advance, or with a deposit, depending on your choice). This eliminates the need to pick up a card to open the date at the front desk after a long journey. A link with the gate of your vacation park or campground to our online reservation software offers many more advantages. It makes it possible for you to see, via our reservation software, who is present (with the car) at what time and you can even 'block' the exit if it turns out that the guest has not yet paid all the bills. Recranet Booking links gates with license recognition for campgrounds and vacation parks.
4. Restrict contact with front desk employees with a check in column
Your guest has not yet paid the total amount online? No need to get in line at the front desk. With a check in column it is possible for the guest to pay the remaining amount, using a linked ATM and at the same time purchase additional products or services if so desired. When the total amount has been paid, the guest receives a key code. Admission bracelets for the swimming pool, the vacation park and the accommodation can be issued and activated right away while checking in at the column. The software for access control registers the persons that are present at the recreation company and their location. In case of a Corona contamination the access bracelets can be used to check who was present at a certain time in a certain area such as the pool or the fitnessroom. Narrowcasting on screens at central locations can show activities on the campground or the vacation park or remind of the rules around Corona.
5. Open doors automatically
In the automatic confirmation email that your reservation software can send, the route to the accommodation concerned on the vacation park or campground has been described. This email is unique for each accommodation. Upon arrival the automatic door locks unlock with the previously issued key code and/or with an NFC reader on the phone. On the day of departure the meter readings are registered automatically upon check out and added to the invoice without needing a person to do so upon departure. These costs are subtracted from the deposit, which can be returned with a single click in our reservation software to the already known bank account number of the guest. An automatically generated email informs the guest about the returned (remnant) of the deposit.
6. Stay in touch with the guest
How can you check to see if a guest is satisfied with the accommodation, in spite of the completely digital process? The digital journey of the guest doesn't stop upon arrival. A good example is to send an email or app (automatically) on the first morning after the arrival to check and see if everything is okay. When the guest is not satisfied this offers you the opportunity as an entrepreneur to make the guest feel that he/she is taken seriously during his/her stay. After the stay, the guest receives the request to review the accommodation. Per language, the reviews (optionally) will be shown on your website with the corresponding accommodation to radiate confidence to future guests. During his/her stay the guest can use the web app within Recranet Booking to order rolls and buns online. These can then be delivered to the accommodation of the guest or can be ready to be picked up at central locations.
7. Mobile reception using reservation software on iPad
With our reservation software Recranet Booking front desk employees can offer support when guests have questions. Check in and check out can be done from anywhere via the iPad but also automatically on the date of arrival/departure. The front desk employee can walk around the vacation park or camp ground with an iPad and send payment links to departing guests. The guest can pay online, while in his/her own accommodation using his/her phone without having to visit the front desk. With good online reservation software, paying online, a check in column, license plate recognition and automatic door locks your recreation company can be automated in a way that all you need is an iPad.
8. Communicate clear cancellation conditions
Ever since Corona the return of the travel sum or a voucher in case of cancellation has become a very important point for many guests. By making sure that the cancellation conditions are stated clearly and can be found easily on the website, the guest can easily find out what the rules are on your campsite or vacation park. State the answers to questions the guest may have, such as; “Will I receive my money back or do I get a voucher?” and “What are the cancellation costs that I have to pay?” With the voucher functionality in Recranet Booking the guest automatically receives a voucher when the planned vacation cannot happen. The guest receives a code via email that can be used online for a new date.
Is a physical front desk a thing of the past?
If anything, Corona has certainly sped up the automation process! Where does your recreation company stand concerning digitalization?
Would you like to know more about the automation of your campground, vacation park or vacation rental organization? Drop us a line!