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Book Easy makes for a more pleasant visit

THE Augusta Margaret River Tourism Association is experiencing higher revenues and increased productivity following the implementation of a custom built online booking and information system.

Other tourism associations in the Western Australia Tourism Commission’s Visitor Centre Network are now considering using the system, with Fremantle Tourist Bureau going live this week.

Called Book Easy, the system was developed locally by South West IT firm Queensberry IT in conjunction with management at the Margaret River Visitors Centre.

Augusta and Margaret River Tourism Association general manager Pauline McLeod said that using a local specialist made for a perfect partnership when collaborating on a custom built IT project.

The resulting success of the system is evident in increased revenues of more than 30 per cent.

“In the last three months we are up 50 per cent on our budget estimates, because it [Book Easy] has delivered us more efficiencies, including increased speed and 10 per cent additional online bookings,” Ms McLeod said.

The system means that visitors to the region can now make accommodation and tour bookings 24 hours a day, seven days a week, when previously they could only do so during office hours.

Local tourism providers who are members of the centre are provided with login details that allow them to access the system and update information directly.

There is also an offline reservation system that can ‘synchronise’ with the main system, ensuring the integrity of the data in the database.

Members can also include a ‘Book Now’ system on their own web site that provides access to Book Easy.

The increased benefits for business lie in data collection, storage and sorting, meaning that up-to-date trends and information on visitor demographics can be sourced.

Information can be viewed according to various criteria, including the postcode or country of origin of the person making the booking, total dollars spent, the service provider and number of room nights booked.

Ms McLeod said the system had uncovered a few surprises and provided more accurate and timely information than would otherwise be accessible only through government sources such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Queensberry IT joint director and BookEasy designer Cinde Fisher said support from members had helped make the system more comprehensive.

“They’re really embracing it well because they find it so easy to use,” she told WA Business News.

Ms Fisher said the system, which took two years to develop to its current state, was unique and that there was interest in rolling it out for use at other centres, including Broome’s Tourist Bureau.

She said the web site, www.margaretriver.com, also served the local community as a ‘What’s On’ portal for locals to source information on events in the region.

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