As more families move to New South Wales’ beautiful Hunter Region and residents’ leisure preferences change, Lake Macquarie City Council has been doing all it can to stay one step ahead.
Facility upgrades and a re-think of recreation events and programs have been high on the agenda, but a leading-edge new system that makes facilities more accessible and easier to manage has arguably made an even bigger splash for customers and staff at council-run pools.
The council recently introduced Envibe leisure management software at four of its swimming pools to make sure water sports enthusiasts get the most out of the host of activities it offers to the local community.
The new system provides an online portal and automated messaging to ensure customers have more information at their fingertips and can access their favourite activities more easily. The automation of payments and leisure management processes frees staff from having to handle repetitive tasks and gives them more time to interact with facility visitors.
Maddy Newton, Leisure Services Business Support Officer for Lake Macquarie City Council, says the population of the Hunter Region is no longer dominated by retirees.
“In recent years there has been significant growth in the number of young professionals and families coming to the Hunter, as more people are able to work remotely and from home.
“This is driving an increase in demand for learn-to-swim lessons for children, and the council is factoring this in when making decisions about the facilities and leisure offerings they provide for their community.”
She says swimming lessons are vital in a place “surrounded by water”. Lake Macquarie is the largest coastal saltwater lake in the Southern Hemisphere, with the foreshore featuring 174 km of bays, beaches and headland.
After adding a purpose-built 16 metre indoor learn-to-swim pool at the Charlestown site last year, Envibe modules have made increasing and managing the number of courses much easier and also power the new customer friendly portal. Maddy says the customer portal is used for enrolment into Learn to Swim classes and school holiday programs, as well as the purchasing of aqua aerobics and ‘STOMP’ squad multi-visit passes across all four of the pools the council manages.
“If someone has booked into a class and timing changes or it is postponed, automatic trigger messages are set up to send an alert to let them know what is happening.
“We’re about to implement more features for online, including a real-time timetable for different group fitness classes, so people can see when classes are scheduled, if there are free places left, and if they are cancelled.”
Staff shortages are a continuing challenge across the industry, and Envibe helps on that front in a variety of ways. Customers have the power to book and pay for selected services themselves, without staff having to be involved in the process.
The software also allows customers to pay online, often removing the necessity for staff to spend time taking payments. According to Maddy these functions save a substantial amount of staff time and significantly improve the overall customer experience.
Maddy says training staff up on the system is a quick process because Envibe is so easy to use, and automated inventory management for on-site swim gear shops saves time too. Analysing attendance trends and tailoring services accordingly is easy with pre-configured reports supporting data-driven decision making. If the attendance data shows aqua aerobics classes are regularly booked out, for example, the council staff can put on additional classes to cater for the demand.
“We went live with Envibe last year. The customer portal has been a huge advantage and it’s also much more centralised, so people can update it from different locations which is taking the pressure off frontline staff.”
Maddy says the council has had very few issues with the new software implementation, but when they have needed support, the Jonas Leisure support team has been responsive and very helpful.
Jonas Leisure’s Customer Success Manager Dushayant Dhar says as demographics and consumer preferences shift, it’s more important than ever for leisure facilities to have modern, flexible software that can adapt to changing needs.
“We’re thrilled to bring Envibe to the swimming pools Lake Macquarie City Council manages to help meet the community’s growing demand for leisure opportunities in the region and keep them active and healthy.”
Lake Macquarie City Council operates Charlestown Swim Centre, Speers Point Swim Centre, Swansea Swim Centre and West Wallsend Swim Centre. Speers Point and Swansea Swim Centre are open solely for the summer season, and the others open all year round. The council has two other swimming pools which are contractor operated.