How Trees Can Inspire New Ideas

October 22, 2019 Samantha Overton

How Trees Inspire New Ideas for Park Managers

Recently, on a trail walk with my three-year-old niece, Emma, we strolled out of the sunshine and into the woods. We could feel a sudden drop in air temperature. She turned to me and asked, "If you put trees in our house would it be cooler?"

Her simple question made me stop -- and laugh. Seeing the wonder of the forest through a young girl's eyes was both amusing and inspirational. Emma’s ability to link a broken air conditioner at her mother’s home with her desire for a more comfortable temperature, inspired me to think about the ways we could perhaps do things differently to help improve the experience of visitors to our state parks across the country.

And while it may seem a bit fantastical to think trees indoors might help everyone stay cooler, it’s a good idea to periodically evaluate what could be done to improve each park visitor’s experience before, during and after they visit.

Here are a few ideas and/or questions to help spur park managers to think differently about state park and recreation facilities:

  • Look at the park's website using the eyes of a first time user. Is it easy? Is it fun for first time audiences to discover information online about your state park? How challenging is it to book a reservation to camp, or fish, or hold a family reunion?
  • You may want to rethink whether it’s necessary to force every visitor to have a user account and password, just to make a reservation. You could, for example, offer a rewards or loyalty program that is an ‘opt-in’ option. Simplifying the reservation process by reducing the number of clicks required to go from the home page to the completion of a reservation can help improve each website visitor’s experience, and increase bookings at your park. It can also help you avoid ‘bad data’ challenges that tend to occur when customers can’t remember or don’t provide accurate, or up-to-date account information.
  • Should Wi-Fi be considered a luxury? Or is it a useful, necessary utility?  Installing free Wi-Fi access in parks can dramatically improve the visitor experience, allowing users to access their email and enable basic communication. Today’s park visitor has many entertainment options and is more apt to pick a park with Wi-Fi availability, especially during the workweek when some visitors may be trying to combine their nature walks with offsite/remote work.
  • Are Point of Sale (POS) systems integrated with your camping reservation system? Think about those POS operations for camping, day-use entry, facility rentals, marinas, camp stores and even golf course greens fees. Combining POS systems onto a single consolidated platform will help enable you to provide a single, transparent version of the truth, especially for revenue and other consolidated fiscal reporting.
  • Currently only one state is actively implementing dynamic pricing for parks. You too may want to investigate your state’s legislative authority to take advantage of nifty techniques used by businesses in the hospitality sector. Dynamic pricing strategies can help your state park increase revenue and boost occupancy, especially during mid-week time periods, and at underutilized park locations.
  • Mobile payment methods that rely on license plate numbers versus iron ranger ‘honor boxes’ are also worth a closer look. Inexpensive mobile payment options would help you collect fees for parking and/or other facilities, and eliminate cash management issues that are typically associated with traditional box collection, including staff time, safety, customer compliance, and machine maintenance.

These are just a few ideas for how to think differently about your state park’s systems and operations. Conduent can help you keep pace with rising connectivity demands and optimize your state park operations. Our solutions are cloud-based and designed to be mobile first. We work hard to help state agency clients transform complex parks system challenges every day, so we know what it takes to serve as many visitors as possible within tight budgetary constraints. You can learn more here about available options and other advances. We stand ready to help you modernize and transform the park experience for your state’s visitors.

About the Author

Director, Parks and Recreation, Conduent

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