Scott Warrington, co-founder of SLS, on why he believes schools could opening up letting opportunities through digital.
Earlier this year, Sport England released research which found two thirds of people felt it was easier to order food online than book an exercise class on the internet.
The research found that only 34% of people surveyed felt it was easy to book sporting activities online and investment which has been made in this area has largely been by private operators which may not be accessible to the majority of people because of price or offering. Even booking taxis, tickets and holidays all ranked higher than securing a spot for a sports class. The leisure sector is currently disparate and difficult to research online so if you’re a table tennis group looking for facilities on a Tuesday night or a swimming club seeking out Saturday sessions, it can feel like the impossible task to know you’re getting the best facilities in your area at a cost which suits. Yet there are hundreds of thousands of this type of customer, team and club looking for space across the UK each week.
As a business, we work with schools to unlock revenue through hiring out their facilities and maximising their potential. With more than 250 partner schools across the UK, we have access to fantastic spaces we want to connect to the communities they are within. As such we’ve launched an innovative new online booking system which can be accessed on our company website www.schoollettings.org The new system provides multifaceted benefits for partner schools and hiring groups, allowing people to search, book and pay online, as well as SLS then managing the lettings onsite. Bookings can now be managed easily 24/7 and can be accessed in real-time, which allows cancellations and amendments. The invoicing process is simplified with automatic updates and payments. It seems like an obvious move but until now, the leisure sector has struggled to offer a digital solution like ours.
But the technology only works when we combine it with our talented teams. This move will also boost our customer service by allowing our managers on the ground more time to work directly with schools and groups, as well as focusing on creating operational efficiencies. This technology will transform the way communities can access leisure facilities by providing live availability and messenger services for existing and new groups to book.
We are hugely excited as a business about the impact this will have – we are already seeing a positive response from the schools and hiring groups we work with. Since we launched in 2011, we’ve been able to deliver well over £10 million of revenue back into the schools we work with and we feel we’re just getting started. We understand the pressures faced by educators in today’s climate and the difference additional funding alongside a professional approach to lettings can make. Now our offering is underpinned by this technology, we’re looking ahead to rolling out to more schools and connecting with more community groups across the country.