Burk's Falls introducing tech-driven booking options for its arena and theatre

·3 min read

Burk's Falls is making it easier for residents to book the local arena or reserve a movie seat at the Burk's Falls Theatre once it reopens.

Council has approved the purchase of a software program known as Book King to be used at the arena, recreation and the treasury department.

The total cost is $9,500 and that also includes the Book King hardware along with additional software that allows payment options for consumers.

The municipality plans to use COVID-19 relief money from the Ontario government to fund the program.

“People can request bookings online and pay online and we make it so that all payments are made up front,” clerk Nicky Kunkel told the mayor and councillors.

Kunkel says the one exception to paying up front may be minor hockey, which could carry a balance to the end of each month when the teams are using the ice.

Once a group or individual books the arena, Kunkel says the person receives a contract.

Additionally, the software can keep track of concession sales which helps with inventory control at both the arena and theatre.

Kunkel says linking the treasury department to the Book King program allows staff to get any arena or theatre information they need “at the click of a button.”

“This makes it more efficient for the village and it also addresses the (municipal) service review because it introduces new technology,” Kunkel said.

One of the selling points for elected officials was in a pandemic environment, the reservation software minimizes the amount of face-to-face contact when booking a facility.

Kunkel says in this way it helps keep people a little safer and people can check the availability of ice time online from their own home.

Kunkel says people who don't have computer access or prefer the traditional booking methods can call the village office or come in person and staff will carry out the bookings.

Kunkel says another big plus with the Book King software is, since it keeps track of all reservations, “it stops double-bookings” since it will identify to the user which times are reserved and what's still available.

The hardware involves the purchase of two scanners, two cash drawers and two iPads to be situated at both the arena and theatre.

In addition to the upfront, one-time cost for the hardware and software, the village has to pay a monthly licensing fee to Book King of $339.98.

The amount increases to $356.28 a month when the payment option is factored in.

In this instance, staff have recommended to the council that it approve Clover as a payment option for consumers that allows them to pay with a credit card or debit because its monthly rates are cheaper than other programs.

Staff says Book King, which is located in Victoria, B.C., and provides solutions for recreation management, will develop the Clover banking option which is included in the total start-up costs of $9,500.

The Clover banking option won't be ready until around mid-fall.

However, the village is also working on introducing PayPal as a payment option through Book King since many consumers also use this as a way to pay bills.

The PayPal service is expected to be ready for use this July.

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget