Lee Valley Regional Park Authority has implemented an online management system to support its range of leisure attractions in the South East.
With almost five million annual visitors, the authority needed a robust system to oversee its 11 venues, including the Olympic White Water Centre, and soon-to-be-reopened Olympic Vallapark and Hockey and Tennis Centres.
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The park covers a geographic area of 26 miles along the banks of the River Lee, from Ware in Hertfordshire, through Essex, to the Thames at East India Dock Basin. Along with its three Olympic sites, which also hosts an Ice Centre with trains for Dancing on Ice, as well as Athletic and Riding Centres.
Unlike local authorities, Lee Valley Park oversees parks of regional and sometimes national significance. It is also home to conservation areas with nine sites of scientific interest, as well as camp sites.
These different venues all needed to be connected by a single flexible leisure management system, which would allow visitors to use online booking systems and an eCommerce site.
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Previously the authority had no e-commerce facilities whatsoever, and bookings were all completed at individual centres over the phone and entered into legacy systems such as spreadsheets.
Nigel Foxall, the head of performance and information at Lee Valley Park Regional Authority, says the park was using a variety of technology.
“The authority now has a more commercial approach so we need to create income from all the operations,” he says. “We needed to be more business-like.”
Omnico was chosen to provide it ClarityLive for Leisure products in the summer of 2010 and it has since centralised the park’s services into one hub.
The first site to use the technology was the Olympic White Water Centre that opened to the public in April 2011. But thanks to the online-booking system, the public were able to book places from as early as December 2010. To date, more than 20,000 white water rafting experiences have been booked online.
The rest of the park’s venues soon followed, and the technology has tendered more than £1m of online sales while processing 5,000 site membership cards, which can be used across the venues.
Customers can book online without a point of contact
Foxall says customers can check in at their campsite and book for another activity at the reception using their card. He is also looking into offering discounts connected using the cards when booking at other sites.
“We liked Omnico’s technology because it was a modular system,” he says.
ClarityLive Leisure offered a wide range of services, including point of sale (POS) functionality, online service access for direct customer bookings and payments, box office style management capabilities, membership management, business trend analysis and reporting.
Foxall says: “Those were the key products for us, but Clarity Leisure also has another four products, including retail and hospitality. Because it’s modular, those modules on other systems can be bought over like the retail side for running catering and bars, and the hospitality for our campsites.”
Additionally, the booking system can directly connect and transport data to the authority’s customer relationship management (CRM) system, where it can use the information and market to interested parties.
The solution was attractive because Lee Valley Park has such a diverse range of attractions over a large area. Additionally, the vendor had a broad portfolio of customers in different markets such as Alton Towers.
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“We’re not a conventional leisure operator so this was attractive to us,” he says.
Foxall says the authority has seen a big improvement across all of its sites. “The campsites now have bookings for next summer,” he says. “Customers can book online without a point of contact with the site, whereas previously they had to phone up. We are also getting European visitors as it’s easier for them.”
Foxall says any technology they implement has to be future-proofed to configure with the Olympic sites they were in the process of taking over.
He says the authority is also looking at future technology such as contactless payments. “But there are also other methods, like in Glastonbury where you have wrist bands you can top up with money,” he says. “There are lots of payment methods we are thinking about.”