One of the first clients to adopt the Resirva eBooking system was the renowned Marlborough College Summer School. Here we put some questions to its Director, John Blake, about the benefits they’ve seen since moving online.
Redwing: Marlborough was one of the first Summer Schools to use an advanced online booking engine. What made the College realise that this was the only way forward?
John Blake: Marlborough College Summer School (MCSS) started taking online bookings for the 2009 event nine years ago, so looking at the tourism industry as a whole, we could be regarded as a latecomer to eBooking technology. The space was already rapidly being filled by the holiday companies, pioneered by lastminute.com, and that definitely played into our rationale for going online and putting ourselves in a far better position to compete.
RW: In general terms as a Summer School, how has the requirement for digital - and being digital - changed for you over the past 5-10 years?
JB: In terms of Marlborough College Summer School, 60% of our bookings are made online so it is now a vital means of raising awareness and income. Over the last five years, the ratio of online bookings to telephone/postal bookings hasn't changed much and has settled at a 60:40 split since 2013. Online bookings are now critical but we won’t be turning our back on the personalised customer interaction that a telephone call offers.
RW: What are the most important benefits of the online booking solutions to the Summer School and the consumer?
JB: Undoubtedly the major benefit of an eBooking system is convenience, both for the consumer and for us as the provider. For us, it eases the administrative workload, especially as the level of bookings has increased. Then there is the benefit of instant reporting and being able to take the temperature of the business instantly, and make quick decisions accordingly. And for the customer it certainly makes life easier, including for repeat purchase.
RW: For you, what is the role of a good digital agency in helping you achieve what you need?
JB: For us it's the speed at which problems and inevitable glitches are solved and we are fortunate that the great team behind Resirva reacts quickly to any issues. Having been late to the party initially, we are keen to keep pace with future technological developments and having a partner like Redwing and a product like Resirva helps us future-proof in that respect as well.
RW: What do you think are the next steps for developing your online offering?
JB: Going forward, we're going to start making better use of analytics to tailor our marketing, for example targeting certain courses to relevant demographics. We also need to keep pace with technological developments and adopt any new measures available to make it easier for customers to make a booking.