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Going live with a new leisure management system during the COVID-19 crisis might seem daunting to some. But a group of Australian and New Zealand councils have done just that, shifting their leisure facilities to the market leading Envibe platform with the help of comprehensive remote training and virtual support from Jonas Leisure.

“Late last year we began going down the path of offering online training options for new clients because it provides flexibility,” says Jonas Leisure Operations Manager Alissa Lim.

“Unlike lengthy face-to-face sessions with a group, where a whole lot of information is provided all at once, online training lets people learn to use our systems and absorb information at their own pace.”

One of the many challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic have been travel restrictions that limit the ability of trainers to visit facilities for face to face sessions with new leisure management software users. This has forced a re-think of the traditional ‘go-live’ process, which has in the past seen Jonas Leisure staff on site at facilities for up to three full days to ensure everything runs smoothly at launch.

The solution was a digital approach combining face to face sessions over Microsoft Teams and checklists for facilities to use one week before go live, the day before launch, on the day, and the day after. Scheduled meetings with screen sharing functionality are held with key staff on the day Envibe goes live at their facility to ensure everything is going to plan.

“The introduction of virtual support during and in the lead-up to go-live is something we’ve had to introduce for some facilities as a direct response to COVID-19,” Ms Lim says.

As a result of this clever thinking, five councils have introduced Envibe at their leisure facilities without a hitch over the past few months.

One of those is Central Otago District Council in New Zealand, which is using Envibe to manage bookings, payments, memberships and a wide range of other services at its Cromwell Swim Centre and Molyneux Aquatic Centre leisure facilities.

Swimmers enjoying themselves at Molyneux Aquatic Centre.

Parks and Recreation Manager Gordon Bailey says the council made the decision to switch to Envibe after a tender process saw it come out well ahead of other leisure management options on the market.

However, the lead-up to the transition to the new software ended up falling within New Zealand’s strict Alert Level 4 lockdown period, when staff were required to work from home. Given the circumstances, a remote approach to training staff and setting up the system was vital, Mr Bailey says.

“The training went well. Most of it was online, with tutorials and Microsoft Teams meetings tailored for different staff based on their needs.”

The council was initially unsure about how the rollout would go without a Jonas Leisure staff member on site when the system went live, but Mr Bailey says it went smoothly, earning praise from both staff and customers.

“Envibe is intuitive and easy to use… the ability to bulk text and email people is helpful and the swim school side of the software is very useful.”

Another recent Envibe convert is the City of Melville in Western Australia. The council introduced the system in June, going live after Western Australian leisure facility doors were allowed to re-open following a mandatory COVID-19 shutdown.

“Jonas Leisure was fantastic and just so accessible throughout the changeover process,” says City of Melville ICT Project Manager Keri Zenke.

“They recorded the online training sessions they ran for us and their staff were incredibly professional and patient. They also allowed us to hold an additional online workshop that wasn’t part of the original plan to ensure everyone was confident with the system.”

Ms Zenke says Envibe is easier to use than their previous system, which was a big benefit, especially as the council had just hired a number of new staff to work at its leisure facilities.

“We wanted a new platform that was more user friendly and accessible in terms of its setup. Envibe offers a lot more in terms of its online and payments functionality.”

Another Western Australian council that has begun using Envibe is the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder. The platform has been introduced at the council’s Goldfields Oasis gym, sports and aquatic complex to make life easier for staff and improve the experience of facility visitors.

The gym at Goldfields Oasis.

Programs Coordinator Elzandi Nicholls says the onboarding training provided by Jonas Leisure was flexible, allowing staff to schedule each session around their existing workload.

“The training sessions were pretty interactive which means by the end of the session I could jump into Envibe and make any necessary changes without needing much assistance from Jonas Leisure.”

She says they have been in contact with Jonas Leisure regularly since going live with Envibe and the Jonas Leisure support team has always been responsive and helpful. Importantly, the new Envibe system has been well received by staff and members, with many commenting on the benefits the system provides to make managing leisure easier as people return to gyms, pools and recreation centres.

“Providing members the opportunity to book online for group fitness classes has helped reduce the number of members lining up at the front desk. This helps with maintaining social distancing as well as limiting face to face contact for an extended period of time,” Ms Nicholls says.

Envibe is the premium leisure club software for the Australasian leisure, recreation and aquatic industry. It integrates with modern technology such as iPads and touchscreen devices and provides valuable business insights that can be used to drive improvement across your business.