In 2001, we recognized the need for a strong module to track conference and retreat center bookings (i.e. group bookings) and we released our first version that year. Over the years, we honed our knowledge, added features and continued to build our strength in this area. If you are a long-time client, do you remember what our first calendar looked like in 2001? Not pretty! On September 14th, 2016, we will release our latest iteration of that module in our Web version.
This is not a “light” module. Our 13-person development team spent the better part of the last 8 months on it. It is perfectly situated to take care of a camp’s smaller spring and fall outdoor center business or a very significant conference center with 75,000+ guest days per year. We have followed our tradition of focusing on balancing ease of use, attention to detail and depth of specific features.
The module covers all of the basics from accommodations to resource booking, meals to contracts, financial management to calendars. As I like to do when we release something of this size, here are some of my personal favourite aspects:
Without question, one of my favourite features is the strong use of excellent calendars. We know that running a conference or retreat center is heavily based around a calendar – what is available when? So, our opening dashboards are calendar views of your bookings, your accommodations and your other resources. And we did not stop with just a single calendar view – you have monthly, daily, weekly, timeline and agenda options to toggle between. Seriously, you are going to love them.
This particular feature allows you to share booking data to any calendar you like without the need to export and import data. We provide a specific link and you paste that link into your favourite calendar’s settings. From that point forward, your bookings (and much of their details) will automatically appear in your calendar – ideal for your smartphone. This feature is supported by all major calendar applications but the obvious ones will be Google, IOS and MS Outlook.
You really need to see and play with this screen to understand the full power of it. Our design team created a truly beautiful and incredibly useful booking screen. You have access to the basics of the booking, financial details, accommodations, resources and meals…all in the same screen. We have layered sections so that you can see relevant details simultaneously, like the booking’s charges and their accommodations used (perhaps to ensure all charges have been appropriately captured).
We know that conference centers have various rates for different situations – there can be rates for the season, weekday vs weekend, denomination, not-for-profit, etc. We created tags to allow you to just look at a specific group of rates (e.g. your wedding rates) for each of your different types of bookings. When you establish your rates, you can assign them to one or more tags.
A person in the conference center (e.g. a billing contact or booking leader) can be the same person from the rest of the software (e.g. parent of camper, camper, volunteer, staff). So, you will truly have a complete view of the impact of each person to your business.
You may email the group leader any of their specific reports (e.g. contract, invoice) right from their booking screen. So, once you have completed the relevant resource and booking details, you may easily send the contract off right away from the same screen.
Import All of Your Data
If you are currently using the conference center module in our Desktop version, our importer will import the vast majority of your data, making the transition smooth. We know you always have groups on the go at some stage in the booking process! If you are using another system to manage your data currently, let’s chat – it is highly likely we can use the same tool to import your existing data.
Software development is a true mixture of art and science…creative design and highly technical details. We strive to create software that is beautiful, useful, smart and delightful to use. I believe we have hit the right balance with this latest release. If you manage a conference, retreat or outdoor center, I encourage you to take a peek at the module….and keep your eye out for more to come.
I hope your summer was a fabulous one.