Kylie McDonald used to have a love-hate relationship with busy long weekends at the two popular beachside holiday parks she helps manage in Warrnambool, Surfside and Shipwreck Bay, which between them feature an imposing 1049 sites and 25 cabins.
While Kylie loved the fun atmosphere the crowds would bring, she found it stressful checking in hundreds of people at a time – everyone arriving at once of course - while checkout could also present serious congestion issues.
One year there was a six-hour wait for customers just to get into Surfside before the Victorian long weekend in March: “The queue went out the front of the gate, up the hill and back two roundabouts with people just waiting to get into the park,” says Kylie.
“It was a huge OHS risk with so many vans hanging out over the road waiting to check in…”
But this year the March long weekend ran smoothly with barely a hitch after the parks, which are owned by Warrnambool City Council, upgraded its RMS park management system.
“All the changes we have put in with RMS over the past couple of years made this March long weekend so stress-free,” says Kylie, who has worked at the parks for the past 19 years.
“We had 900 sites vacate this morning and just lifted the gates, it was really no problem, RMS has done all the work for us.”
Well, not quite.
In addition to upgrading from the RMS 8 property management system to RMS 9+, the management team at Warrnambool changed several key site allocation and pre-payment procedures to streamline operations.
Kylie says RMS 9+ is a big leap forward and she particularly values its communication tools.
“We’re booking in the same amount of people but there’s no stress or pressure because we’re on top of everything all the time,” says Kylie.
“With a simple flick of a text message you hit all those people with overdue accounts and get them paid. In the past we had to ring them one at a time.”
As a result, everyone had pre-paid for the long weekend, allowing staff to properly engage with guests rather than go into crisis-management mode.
“On the Friday we had everyone’s registration numbers, we sent everyone a text message with their boom gate codes, they didn’t have to call into the office, they could go straight to their site and start setting up,” she says.
“It just ran so smoothly.”
The new communication system has also proved invaluable managing difficult situations.
“We had an emergency in the park a couple of years ago where we had a work shed fire in the middle of January when the park was chock-a-block and I was able to manage via text message while the firemen did their job,” Kylie explains.
“We’d just send people updates of where things were at - I could let guests know what’s happening, why they had no power and warn them to keep away from the area.
“It’s now part of our emergency management procedures.”
The Warrnambool parks also use the integrated Albert terminals, which have been “a big money saver” by creating greater efficiencies through automation.
“All I need to do is bank the cash and the cheques and the credit cards just settle themselves,” says Kylie.
“There was one year I worked the March long weekend, and someone had put through a payment for $50 instead of $60 and with the number of payments we had it took me six hours to find it.
“RMS has been completely used to our advantage and it has paid off for our business.
“Customer’s travel time and holiday time is really important so if we can cut back on the time they’re spending coming into the office and being delayed when starting their stay – that’s crucial.”
There are also clear benefits for staff, as Kylie can attest.