One of the pioneers in providing real-time, online reservations for the campground industry, Leisure Interactive has been shaping the way campgrounds, RV parks and resorts process and manage their reservations since 2003. Originally founded as Friend Communications Inc., the company changed its name to Leisure Interactive three years ago following the redesign of its online reservations software into a cloud-based front desk management system called Hercules. The Orange, Calif.-based company has also diversified its business base to include public parks and marinas, the latest of which are the South Dakota state park system and the Santa Catalina Island Co., which provides both campground and marina reservations for the vacation resort located 15 miles off the coast of Los Angeles. Woodall’s Campground Management’s Jeff Crider recently caught up with Leisure Interactive President and CEO Gary Pace, who spoke with WCM from his corporate headquarters in Southern California. Following are highlights of their conversation:
WCM: How did your company evolve from its focus on online reservations to providing parks with a complete front desk management system?
Pace: Our vision was always to build integrated software that allowed businesses to service the full experience of the consumer. But the technology was not available at the beginning. So we really couldn’t build an efficient property management system that was totally cloud based because the technology wasn’t mature. When the technology finally evolved, we completely rewrote our entire system from scratch to take advantage of cloud architecture. Then we migrated all of our customer data for them so they would not have to experience the pain of setting up a new system.
WCM: In the early days, parks used to have to allocate however many sites they wanted to make available for reservation online. Now, with your Hercules system, park operators no longer have to allocate sites for online reservations.
Pace: Absolutely. Our system is integrated so whether a booking is coming from a remote portal, the website or the front desk, the site is immediately placed on hold for 20 minutes and you can’t sell it (through another channel). So if a guest is standing at the front desk and you’re trying to book a site and tell the consumer, “I’ve got this site available,” nobody online can take it out from under you. You don’t want to go through that whole process with a guest over the phone and then say, “Sorry. Someone online has just reserved that site.” So I guess you can say reservations are sold first come first serve through all channels based on whoever starts the process first.
WCM: Your marketing materials say that your system is “cloud-based.” What does that mean?
Pace: You hear a lot of people talking about “the cloud.” A cloud environment means a lot of different things to different people. For Leisure Interactive it means there is no software to install locally – we manage and maintain the servers, backups, software updates, PCI compliance and many other issues. The biggest differences in cloud-based solutions for the RV park and campground industry is the number of installations the supplier has to manage and whether the cloud is scalable for short bursts of high demand. The more software installations you support, the harder it is to keep all versions patched and secure. Hercules was designed to take advantage of the cloud, so it is not a reworked version of locally installed software running on a central server.
To read the entire Q&A click here.