Going for growth in service of their community
The Community of St Luke is a progressive Presbyterian church that has fantastic community facilities on the border of Remuera and Newmarket in Auckland, New Zealand. Their spaces range from one of Auckland’s most beautiful church venues, to multipurpose seminar rooms, a community lounge and private counselling rooms.
The kaupapa (purpose) of St Luke’s is to offer our local and wider community opportunities to belong and for meaningful participation. When SpacetoCo first started talking to St Luke’s we were captivated by the space and facilities that they offered . We were impressed by their commitment to serving their local community with accessible and affordable rooms. However, the team were keen to expand their impact in the Newmarket and Remuera areas and knew that they had plenty of capacity in their spaces to go for growth. In the words of Colin Rose, the Community Director, they wanted a ‘21st century booking system and processes’ so that they could unlock the following priorities:
Goals & Aims
Increase the utilisation of the spaces
Diversify their bookings and get new groups, businesses and individuals making bookings
Future-proof the bookings process to enable scalable growth without increasing dependency on staff
When we started working with St Luke's in 2019, SpacetoCo was exploring how we could grow our community spaces marketplace and bookings automation software to support spaces in New Zealand. Elle, our NZ Managing Director had felt first hand how hard it was to find and book community spaces and wanted to prove the hypothesis that a sharing economy solution could be the silver bullet to matchmake community users with local space. Elle was impressed by St Luke’s vision for their space, and their willingness to take a risk and pioneer a new idea. Together we have created a Partnership in Community and it’s been a joy to learn and grow together and prove that the idea and technology can deliver the outcomes St Luke’s desired and deserves.
In their first 8 months, the team at St Luke's have achieved the following.
Growth in casual bookings through enabling online availability & bookings
Diversification of bookings from new businesses and community groups
A reduction in staff time needed to process payments
This case study explains our journey to achieve St Luke's vision, the hurdles we faced and how we worked together.
Here is our story
Elle, Managing Director SpacetoCo New Zealand
"I will always remember the first time I met Colin and saw the spaces at St Lukes. A few days previously, I was looking for community spaces to pitch my big idea to - a marketplace that could help both people booking community spaces, and improve processes for the admin staff who manage the spaces. I’d sent Colin a cold email, not really expecting a response, but almost immediately he sent me an invite to catch up.
The first thing you notice at St Luke’s is the warmth and welcoming atmosphere of the staff and the space. It has a cozy lounge open to all, Pamela has a big smile and a happy ‘hello’ for all who enter and the space is always buzzing with lots of different people.
Cup of tea in hand, and welcomed into the wood panelled community office, Colin told me that my timing had been fortuitous! The parish council had made finding an online booking system a priority. He told me they were keen to explore how they could make it easier for more people to use the space, but also to decouple the bookings and availability information from being dependent on just Pamela.
As I heard more about the challenges they were facing, but also their big vision to open up the church to be a diverse music venue, to attract more weddings and be a hub for local businesses, I was convinced we could help - and excited by the prospect of working with such a lovely, open minded and progressive group of people. Maybe it was fate, or maybe divine intervention that I sent that email at the right time, I’ll never know, but it’s been a privilege to grow what we’re doing and learn from St Luke’s and their wonderful community of space users."
How bookings used to be managed at St Luke's
Visibility of room bookings and availability
Compiling Auckland Council data
An innovative light & orchestral show in the church
The centre has great spaces for wedding celebrations
Unlocking the potential from the centre and it's location
1. Reaching new and different customers
2. Pricing and fees hadn’t been updated in a while
Why SpacetoCo was a good fit for St Luke's
- A modern, familiar, responsive booking experience for their customers to pay online
- Software that manages & automates availability and payments for casual, regular and internal bookings to enable visibility and scalability of the processes
- A marketplace that would make them more visible and diversify their community bookings
Live support for their team and their customers, meaning the team have a back up for out of hours questions
Personalised support to transition to the new system and design the new processes
Data entry of all the existing bookings
Customer communications and change management
Marketing and space activation support
St Luke’s were also willing to help shape the solution. They liked that they were one of the first to get on board, and therefore got the opportunity to help design something that really worked for them.
SpacetoCo enables access to availability and bookings data on all devices, any time.
We can help create a business case to calculate the benefits and costs of moving to an online booking solution.
Getting approval and sorting the business case
Making the change happen
St Luke’s have between 300-400 bookings a month and over 150 customers who book both regularly and casually. We agreed in September 2019 that St Lukes goal would be to transition all bookings to be online by January 2020. This was to tie in with the normal annual process of agreeing the regular customers room bookings for the coming year, and get that straight into SpacetoCo rather than using the old desktop system. To make the transition happen we created a staggered roll out plan and worked with St Luke’s to deliver it.
November: Photograph spaces and set up descriptions. Enable new online bookings and payments
December: Customer communications and change management. Both new and existing casual bookings now 100% online
January: Migrate all 2020 bookings to SpacetoCo. Regular customer bookings are booked and paid for online.
It t it’s important to note that once we’d finalised the space photos and descriptions, St Luke’s were already able to start taking bookings and payments online from new customers almost from the get go.
They required no complicated training for staff or customers, no IT or infrastructure changes and had no upfront costs to start enabling online processes and bookings.
"I still get a buzz when I see my pending bookings all lined up for me to accept in my dashboard.
Having all the invoices and payments automated is saving us time each month"
Pamela Day, Administrator, St Luke's, Remuera
What we learned, and some hurdles we had to work through…
High frequency changes for counselling rooms just didn’t work...
How we worked through it...
The comfortable & affordable counselling rooms are popular at St Luke's.
Dealing with a global pandemic
Cancellations are never fun, but having self service and automated refunds makes it easy to sort this remotely, quickly and safely.
How we worked through it...
- All bookings can be self service cancelled by customers. This meant that refunds happen automatically, or the room hire is taken off the monthly bill. This meant no manual processing of refunds or cancellations for the centre staff.
- All re-bookings for casual guests can be done by the guests directly. This mean no shuffling things around by the centre, customers can view availability and rebook when it was safe to meet again
Although the physical premises were closed and no staff were on site, St Luke’s was still able to receive future booking enquiries and serve & message their customers online through our platform
To report the impact of the closure to Council and get supporting data for emergency government funding, it was easy to download a report that showed all cancellations and how much revenue the centre lost.
What we achieved together in the first 8 months
The below data points are a snap shot of the power of what using SpacetoCo has automated and achieved for St Luke's.
Regular hirers pay monthly
Payment collection success
"Before we worked with SpacetoCo, we did have a room booking system that was working - but it was so dependent on the knowledge and skills of one person to know how to manage the bookings and the invoicing. Now we have a system that means we can all jump in and see what’s what, which means it can all run quite smoothly when we take leave. This is why it’s worth paying for the system - as it’s means we have more automation and an established process that means we can grow without increasing the dependency on our team. We would recommend SpacetoCo to other community spaces."
Colin Rose, Community Director, St Luke's, Remuera
Outcomes for St Luke's
Increased bookings from new customers
The diversity of booking requests from new businesses, community groups and individuals has increased. The quality of booking requests has also increased - as customers have paid upfront and already established the availability works.
Reduction in payment processing time
Each month we automate receipts for all casual bookings and approximately 50 invoices and direct debits are taken without the team lifting a finger.
More accessible bookings data for Auckland Council reporting
All bookings data can be downloaded any time to compile the mandatory reporting back to Auckland Council and for financial reporting for the St Luke's finance team
Improved online photos, information and booking experience
All St Luke's nine spaces are searchable and bookable online. They have extensive descriptions, which helps reduce repetitive enquiries. The information can be updated in seconds by the team.
Online availability for all staff and customers to see
The availability of the rooms can be seen online by customers, and staff on any device, at any time. It's also visible on google calendars for a visual snapshot. The 'Bookings Book' has been retired.
Increase accessibility for customer enquiries and out of hours
Customers can easily make bookings any time of day, which means St Luke's is more accessible to more people.
Back-up and customer service from a partner who cares
SpacetoCo run live chat, a support inbox, have online support articles and keep an eye on pending bookings and customer issues. We are an extra team member to support the St Luke's team with customer service.
A scaleable solution for growth
All the information about customers, bookings and payments is now in one system, so anyone can jump in and manage it. As bookings increase, the admin will stay manageable due to payments automation.
Increased revenue from extras
It's now easy for customers to book and pay for extras like tea and coffee supplies. The extra income from this has meant $100+ more in income each month.
How we work together
A way to toggle the order of how the spaces appear to customers
How the logic for bookings that happen ‘every third Thursday’ work
Folders for organising internal bookings
Many text changes for email and copy to improve the customer experience.
View our other spaces
Integration to google calendar
Elle, Pamela and Colin enjoying the shade of the Courtyard
Thanks to the incredible feedback from St Luke's and our other partners, SpacetoCo is a platform that is built BY community spaces FOR community spaces. That's how we know it works.
What St Luke's customers say
"The website was very easy to use and I found an amazing space that was perfect! All the amenities listed were easily available on site, parking information was correct, and it was very easy to book and pay online!"
Brandice, Kookai, Newmarket
Survey response from a regular hirer at St Luke's
"I found SpacetoCo.com great. The booking system was really easy to navigate and it was good that I could add in extras such as catering, into the booking. Elle and her team were super-fast at responding to any queries I had, and paying upfront meant I knew the booking was locked in and there was nothing at all for me to worry about regarding additional confirmations etc. My colleagues and I will continue to use SpacetoCo.com and highly recommend it. "
Faye, Grow Ltd