For the British, booking a UK
holiday can be surprisingly complex.
Unlike planning holidays abroad,
where a trained member of staff at the local travel agent produces all the
information, carries out all the complex paperwork, and covers the costs by
commission, booking a UK holiday usually involves requesting a holiday guide
through an advertisement, working out where and when will suit, then phoning
several establishments to find a vacancy with the right facilities, at the right
time, at the right price, and in the right place.
In common with many other
forward-thinking local authorities, West Dorset District Council is working to
improve its accommodation booking service, and to make it just as easy to book
an English coastal holiday as it is to go to the Costa del Sol.
By improving the 'bookability' of a
holiday in West Dorset, it will remain an attractive option - vital in our
increasingly competitive climate.
As featured in our summer issue,
WDDC has invested considerably in new technology to link its five Tourist
Information Centres together through a 'thin client' environment so that they
share a single comprehensive database on accommodation, events, places to eat,
and other local and regional information.
Using the latest software from CTV,
the WDDC database is now able to hold vacancy data for accommodation providers
for any period, allowing advanced reservations to be made.
As bookings are made through any one
of the five member TICs, every change is reflected simultaneously across the
whole network, meaning that availability is always accurate and
Local accommodation providers can
also update their own records electronically as often as they wish, to show
availability and seasonal pricing.
Nick Thornley, leisure and tourism
manager for WDDC, said: "The District Council is very happy to be working
on a new computerised booking system with CTV.
"This means that we can offer
our tourism trade the latest technology to help both it, and local industry in
general, to remain competitive.
"The new system seems ideal for
a large rural and coastal area with a number of small but high-quality
Chris Sims agrees: "Other
networking systems, which rely on periodic data synchronisation, may be
satisfactory for databases of events and attractions but are totally
unacceptable for accommodation.
"Any scheme involving
availability has to be current to operate effectively."
West Dorset District Council has
also invested in a new website which will, from November 2000, include detailed
entries for all accommodation providers. This too will be fed dynamically by the
From November 2000, customers will
be able to contact West Dorset Tourism Direct, the new advanced reservation
service, by telephone, fax, e-mail, in writing, or direct from the Web Site with
their accommodation requirements.
West Dorset staff will then match
the enquiry to a vacancy, and will book the accommodation on the customer's
behalf: WDDC has plans to provide 'on-line' booking in the near future.
Working in partnership with the
local accommodation providers through CTV's advanced destination management
software will make West Dorset holidays more accessible, since bookings will be
made easier for all concerned.