How a multi-park group in Australia is successfully driving direct bookings and increasing revenue across their 10 tourist parks.

Summerstar, one of Australia’s most progressive multi-park groups, is successfully utilising the RMS Enterprise system and reaping great results. Summerstar boasts a far-flung network of ten parks throughout Western Australia, from Esperance in the south to the remote outback mining town of Tom Price in the north. Managing such an extensive network presents significant logistical challenges but general manager James Corbitt, who is based in Perth, says RMS' technology is up to the task.

Accessing and analysing data on demand

"With RMS, we can effectively manage all the parks remotely," says James. "I'm a data-driven person and like to keep my finger on the pulse; at 7 am on Mondays, I'll have a number of reports automatically shoot out to our emails from RMS, and because it's cloud-based, we can bring all of our parks into the one database. We worked closely with RMS for about two years to make that happen. Now, we can pull reports straight out of the one database on a property by property basis or as a group to really gauge the performance of our network." James says RMS provides him with an excellent overview of the business, monitoring key performance indicators.

Increasing efficiency with RMS' native channel manager

Using the fully inbuilt RMS Channel Manager has streamlined rate setting and product distribution at Summerstar. "When I first started, we had several channel managers for each park, so setting rates was an arduous process. You had to go into RMS for the over-the-counter aspect and into each different channel manager to set rates." This was time-consuming and sometimes frustrating with potential for data input errors. Now it's much easier. "That's the main functionality I use in RMS. It's relatively quick and easy to go in and set rates." He adds that "effective rate setting can increase bottom-line revenue by 7% to 10% on the same asset" through strategic techniques such as stretching shoulder periods.

Optimising their website to deliver the best possible customer journey

Summerstar relaunched its website and connected to a new API utilising RMS technology over several months in late 2018 and early 2019. "Our SEO team spent many hours optimising the new website," he says. "We're pushing a lot more people to the site, and we've made it easier and simpler for them to book." He adds sales have further increased since they connected the API in February. "It means we can control and track the look and feel for the customer to see what works and what doesn't. With marketing and promotions, for example, we can see the click-through rates from emails, we can see where people are looking on the site and instantly change our approach if required. I think that's been the main contributing factor to the increase in online bookings as well as the growth of direct bookings."

Cutting down on commissions to drive direct bookings

Since the site relaunch and API integration, Summerstar has been on a mission to increase its direct online bookings. For a very good reason; it's the simplest and most effective strategy to increase the bottom line through saving on expensive commissions charged by online travel agents. "We want to make sure our website is the go-to place when booking online and that it's as easy and smooth as possible," he says.

Summerstar also wants to be the best value channel and has launched a 5% discount offer for bookings made in non-peak periods on Summerstar.com.au. "So far that's working a treat. Generally, customer behaviour is that they'll check our website, the OTAs and all review sites before they book."

"What we're trying to do is nab the booking from the OTA. We want people to use our website, get the best price and save ourselves the 10%, 12% or 15% in the process."

As a result of the changes over the past six months, we're seeing an increase of 100% to 200% in some parks in the online space, and have doubled our split of direct bookings.

James Corbitt

General Manager, Summerstar

"We were around 15% across the parks for direct bookings which wasn't great, so to see that grow to 30% on average across the parks is really satisfying."

Full steam ahead

All the indicators are looking very positive for Summerstar, and RMS is proud to be an enabler of that success. "Visitor nights are up, occupancy is tracking up, and forward bookings have also increased year on year," says James. "We've increased our exposure, and that's obviously paying off while all the changes we've made to the website and API has improved functionality, giving people the ability to plan their holiday and get online."