Visitors are now able to use the Internet to make their own reservations at South Africa's national parks.
"SANParks has raised its game to global standards," says Steve Randles of Khanyisa Real Systems (KRS), architect of the Roomseeker reservations system. "Roomseeker has been running for years at SANParks as a back-office hospitality management system and we've now made exactly the same functionality available to the general public for realtime online bookings."
Until now, members of the public could only make telephone enquiries and reservations. The new,user-friendly online service empowers park visitors to make reservations quickly and easily at a time that suits them, and has eased the pressure on the SANParks call centre. As a result, productivity has increased and there are early indications of increased turnover. The system is also more secure as there is less cash handling at tills.
"The customer experience has definitely improved," says Glenn Phillips, SANParks executive director for tourism and marketing. "All the information is available at the click of a mouse, and self-service means quicker activation of reservations and payments. We are also able to market the parks more effectively by data-mining information gathered from park visitors.
"Our strong partnership with our system architects has been one of the key components of Roomseeker's success," says Phillips. "KRS got involved early in the process and understood the functions and special requirements of our business very well. They were able to provide strategic advice as well as a tailor-made product, which has saved us both time and money."
Randles adds that the system was custom-designed for the South African context, with the flexibility to handle added functionality in future built in.
Roomseeker's service-oriented architecture (SOA) will also in future enable others in the hospitality trade to connect to SANParks' online reservations system. Randles' vision is to see Roomseeker installed by other large parks, reserves and resorts, so they can talk to each other as well as direct to the travel trade.
"That would provide huge potential for offering multiple choices of accommodation and activities, as well as methods of payment," he says. "For parks, resorts and the travel trade, it will provide endless possibilities for upsell, cross-sell and shared commission structures."