Getting on the right pathway

Moving away from inefficient processes, human error and a poor customer experience

At the beginning of 2018, the team at Heathcote Cultural Precinct found themselves at a crossroads. They needed to find a solution that solved the seemingly complex problem of venue hire, while trying to provide a great customer experience that matched consumer expectations. They had made the move to Pathways - fairly typical venue booking software in an effort to go digital. The team found themselves buried in time consuming tasks, mountains of hard-copy paperwork and laborious processes that didn't lend to a good customer experience. Both sides of the booking process were difficult. 

Heathcote Cultural Precinct is part of the City of Melville, and decided in early 2018 to trial SpacetoCo for 12 months. The trial proved to be successful very early on. Before the full 12 months was up, the City of Melville signed on with SpacetoCo and rolled out 3 new community centre facilities. 

Heathcote Cultural Precinct is located on the site of the former Heathcote Mental Reception Home in Applecross. It is a heritage-listed public open space. The site features the Heathcote Gallery and a Museum dedicated to the history of the old hospital. There is also artist studios, workshop spaces, amazing venues for hire, a restaurant, and a popular, award-winning playground.

janabraddock"The transition of Heathcote Cultural Precinct’s bookings from the Pathways system to SpacetoCo has significantly reduced the administrative steps required to confirm a booking, as well as significantly simplified the customer experience."
Jana Braddock
Gallery Curator, Heathcote Cultural Precinct
City of Melville

After 12 months, the team at Heathcote witnessed the following. 

  • An extra $5,000 in revenue even after paying SpacetoCo's fee
  • A reduction in staff time needed to manage bookings

The case study below outlines the various areas of improvements and comparisons compared to the old systems and processes. 

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Booking a Space

The Old Way: Previously under the old system, guests needed to follow a process that included submitting a 'Booking Request Form' via the Heathcote website. This form funnelled through to the Heathcote generic email address, where Gallery Officers would then check the availability of the space before getting back to the customer to see if the requested booking time was feasible. Often this would entail a lengthy back-and-forth regarding availability, not to mention the general delay in responding back to customers in amongst the general business (exhibitions, community programs etc...) at the precinct. If the space was unavailable during the customer’s requested time, officers would offer up some alternative times or spaces that could possibly work. 

The SpacetoCo Way: With customers now booking directly through SpacetoCo, the back-and-forth process for customers has been drastically reduced. This is due to the following reasons:

  • Customers can see availability themselves, in real-time
  • Customers can request a space and time available that best suits them
  • Customers have clearly defined information around rules, space use and amenities to make an informed decision
Gallery Officers receive these requests via email notifications, at which point they double-check that there are no internal conflicts or potential issues before confirming a booking. If all looks good, the booking can be accepted and confirmed with a simple click in the SpacetoCo dashboard. Officers then follow-up on the Spacetoco system and message customers thanking them for booking the space, reminding them to stop into the Gallery to collect the venue key with alarm code, and providing the office phone number if they have questions or need assistance.
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Customer Experience & Entering Customer Data

The Old Way: Under the previous system, customers entered their contact details on the Booking Request Form, and then Gallery Officers would manually re-enter it into Pathways. This entailed multiple steps, which were not intuitive. There was also an increased likelihood of human error on the Gallery Officer’s behalf, which often resulted in one or more pieces of information being entered incorrectly. The data entry task required concentration, which was difficult to achieve for the Gallery Officers. They work at the front of house in customer service role where engaging with Gallery visitors and phone queries comes first.

These multiple steps not only required administrative time by the Gallery Officer’s, but also by the customer. To summarise, customers would need to: 

  • Fill out and submit a booking application form on Heathcote’s website
  • Receive and respond to a follow-up email regarding availability and adjust times if desired
  • Wait for their booking confirmation letter and invoices
  • Pay invoices in chosen way
  • Receive and respond to email correspondence regarding key collection
  • Receive and respond to email correspondence regarding bond collection and then the bond refund

The SpacetoCo Way: Using Spacetoco, customers enter their own contact details, so this has almost eliminated the data entry process.

The customer now has the ability to book a space much quicker as availability is live and they can easily determine the date and time that best suits them independently and outside the Gallery Officer’s work hours. If customers experience difficulties with the Spacetoco site, there is a Live Chat featuring, allowing them to receive just-in-time feedback and assistance from the SpacetoCo team. An instant messaging/email service also allows customers to directly interact with the Heathcote Gallery staff online, in addition to connecting via phone and in-person.

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Bonds and Security

The Old Way: Under the old process and system, customers needed to pay a $300 bond upfront, along with the hire fee. To process the bond payment, Gallery Officers would need to raise an invoice, however payment for the bond was not needed to secure the booking. This resulted in Gallery Officers typically needing to chase up payment with the customer. As with the hire fee, payment was made by the customer either via cash, Eftpos, EFT or City of Melville website, most of which would require the Gallery Officer’s administrative assistance to take payment. When payment was received, it needed to be receipted on Pathways and manually added to the Daily Takings

Following the booking, Gallery Officers would check the space, and if all Terms and Conditions had been met, they would need to reach out to the customer to process their bond refund. This would be done either via Eftpos or EFT, and then the original payment would need to be reversed on Pathways, a ‘Reversing Payment’ document filled out, and the refund added to the Daily Takings.

Periodically, customers made payment for the hire fee and bond in the same transaction. In this instance, reversing the bond on Pathways meant both payments would be automatically reversed, so the Gallery Officer would need to manually re-enter the hire fee payment into Pathways. Due to the many steps entailed in these processes, human error was plausible.

The SpacetoCo Way: With SpacetoCo, customers do not pay a bond upfront. Rather, payment is only deducted from the customer’s credit card after the booking.  The Gallery Officer simply alerts the SpacetoCo team that the Terms and Conditions have not been met or there is damage costs to recoup. As the credit card details are retained from the outset, it is easy to process a partial or full bond payment after the space has been inspected.

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Reporting

The Old Way: Using the Pathways system, Gallery Officers would be required to log on to Pathways as a Heathcote Cashier each morning. There was always a high likelihood of handling bookings-related payments thus needing to record those transactions on the system. At the end of each day, the Gallery Officer would need to log off Heathcote Cashiering, ensuring the finances recorded in Pathways matched the information recorded on the Daily Takings sheet. The Gallery Officer would then needed to print both the ‘Draw Balance Transactions Report’ and ‘Bank Deposit Payment Details Report’ from Pathways – which totalled to 12 sheets of A4 paper. These would be stapled onto the hand-written Daily Takings sheet.

The SpacetoCo Way: With SpacetoCo, Gallery Officers do not need to log onto the Pathways cashiering at all, or print any of Pathways’ end-of-day reports. SpacetoCo retains reports of incoming and outgoing money which is emailed to the City of Melville Accountant on a monthly basis as part of the PartnerPro bundle. The Heathcote team now only prints one A4 Daily Taking sheet which records any transactions not processed through Spacetoco (liquor licences and projector hire), as well as non-bookings-related transactions such as art sales, shop sales and workshop participation sales.

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The Gallery Officer Experience

The Daily Hustle: Heathcote Cultural Precinct is a bustling and growing site staffed by just two individuals: the Gallery Curator and the Gallery Officer. Supporting the Gallery Curator and the many initiatives taking place on site is an important facet of the Gallery Officer’s role. In addition to managing the venue hire bookings, the Gallery Officer also opens/closes the gallery and museum, and serves as the front of house, engaging with Gallery visitors, facilitating Shop and Gallery sales and answering phones. Additional role responsibilities include updating the website, posting to social media, following-up with any on-site maintenance issues, and assisting with exhibition installation and didactics.

The simplicity of the Spacetoco site frees up much of the time the Gallery Officers spent using Pathways, allowing them more time to better support the Gallery Curator as well as to be more available to interact and engage with Gallery visitors.

Communication: On the Pathways system, the Gallery Officer would need to check the physical Bookings Binder, email and Pathways records to track down where previous staff had left off on a booking to determine what next step was needed. This created a complex system where Gallery Officers would manually record in the Bookings Binder the different stages of a booking. Human error would arise, causing confusion about what stage a particular booking was in. On SpacetoCo, all transaction and messages with customers are archived directly on the website so it is very easy to check, for example, whether a customer needs another reminder to collect their key.

The SpacetoCo system also allows for much easier communication across the team, allowing casual and weekend staff too quickly and easily catch up on what has been done and what still needs to be done from an administrative perspective.

The SpacetoCo platform allows the Gallery Officers to easily control and oversee all bookings across the site. As the Officers inform all of the site tenants, grounds and irrigation staff, as well as other partners with various booking details, this overview aspect is quite critical.

Support & Sustainability: The SpacetoCo staff fully supported and advised the Gallery Officers throughout the transition process with swift and effective advice. The SpacetoCo team also listened closely to feedback from the Gallery Officers and Gallery Curator, making adjustments and updates to the site to improve the site’s effectiveness.

Additionally, HCP is striving to have best practices when it comes to sustainability and to continue to reduce the precinct’s carbon footprint. Transitioning to SpacetoCo resulted in a significant reduction in the usage of paper, from the very paper-heavy Pathways system to the nearly paper-free SpacetoCo platform.

Conclusion

The transition of Heathcote Cultural Precinct’s bookings from the Pathways system to SpacetoCo has significantly reduced the administrative steps required to confirm a booking, as well as significantly simplified the customer experience. In Summary, the SpacetoCo procedure has included the following administrative benefits:

The Elimination of:

  • Excessive back and forth communication with customers via email regarding availability of spaces
  • Printed material 
  • Manual data entry 
  • Elimination of handwritten notes

The Addition of:

  • An intuitive, simple and contemporary booking platform aligning with the innovative and forward-thinking vision of Heathcote Cultural Precinct
  • Simple and accurate receipting of payment process
  • Information is provided by customers and saved digitally on SpacetoCo site
  • Availability for each space is live
  • Swift and customer-friendly bond reversal process
  • Monthly, lump-sum payments are made from SpacetoCo into the City of Melville’s Heathcote Account, monitored by the City of Melville Finance Team, which are comprehensive and easy to follow. Gallery Officers don’t handle funds at any stage in the booking process
  • Increased income owing to the ease of the SpacetoCo booking platform (approximately $5,000 year-on-year extra after paying SpacetoCo's fee)

Keeping things simple

The Heathcote Team have experienced what happens when you keep things simple. It's easy for customers to use, it's easy for booking officers to manage, and the result is an overall improved set of outcomes when it comes to efficiency, reliability and occupancy.

SpacetoCo and Heathcote Cultural Precinct have collaborated and co-created to re-imagine how local government facilities are shared and managed.

Only with a spirit of innovation, collaboration and true partnership can you achieve quality outcomes for everyone involved. 

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