Hotel Online  .Special Report


State of Arkansas Woos Visitors: Automates 4 Lodge
Operations and 23 Parks With Single-System Strategy
and Internet Booking – 
Installs Maestro from NORTHWIND
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Unspoiled DeGray Lake Resort State Park First Installation in Rollout of Multi-Property Management System; Arkansas Projects Savings of $51K Per Year in Data Entry Fees, $52K in Annual UPS Costs; Frees Personnel for Guest Interaction
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Markham, ON – November 24, 2003 -- Situated on a wooded island with its own 18-hole golf course, marina and conference center, DeGray Lake Resort State Park is one of the jewels in the Arkansas State Park system, an environmental treasure trove that has unspoiled campgrounds, full service lodge and restaurant with conference center, 18-hole championship golf course, and marina.  It is this collection of natural resources that helped earn Arkansas its nickname of the “Natural State,” and DeGray Lake Resort is a major draw.  In part because of its natural setting, the resort is a busy destination for corporate groups, sportsmen, and vacationing families who come from as far away as Canada to enjoy the park’s relaxed atmosphere and diverse activities.  The property averages two weddings each weekend during the spring, summer and fall seasons, and offers a wide variety of popular ecology programs from eagle studies to late night “golf cart safaris” that track wildlife after dark. 
 
“As busy as our property is, we felt like we needed to be able to keep as many staff as possible available to assist our guests,” said DeGray Lake Resort State Park Superintendent, Chris Snodgrass, who started a 30-year career in hospitality as a hotline cook.  When an unexpected support situation arose with the resort’s former front office system supplier, Dan DeLaughter, Director of Management Information Systems for the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, began evaluating different systems and technologies
 DeGray Lake Resort State Park
2027 State Park Entrance Rd.
Bismarck, Arkansas
for DeGray Lake Resort. He narrowed the choices to three vendors then turned the decision over to the State Parks management team to conduct their own round of testing.  After an extensive cost-benefit and functionality analysis, the decision was made to go with a single-system strategy for Arkansas’s State Parks that would yield potential efficiencies and provide a major step forward for the organization.

Arkansas installed the Maestro Multi-Property suite from NORTHWIND first at its DeGray Lake Resort State Park in May 2002. The decision to implement the system statewide was made in mid-2003 with anticipated completion by May 1, 2004; this will automate the entire State Park system on a single server and database.  “Installing a totally new system at Degray Lake Resort cost us 30 percent less than an upgrade of the former system would have,” said Chris Snodgrass.  “However, the larger benefits from our decision did not show themselves until we were half way into our installation.”  Snodgrass cited the advantages of running on a single-server, consolidated database system as including the ability to cross-sell any of the facilities in the Arkansas State Park system from any other park office for better service, and the staff’s familiarity with the system that would enable them to work at any facility. 

The State of Arkansas will also benefit from the new system’s compatibility with the SAP software that forms the backbone of the state’s central accounting system.  Snodgrass noted that in the future staff would be able to automatically upload nightly revenue and expense information for all its facilities from the centralized PMS server to AASIS, the Arkansas Administrative Statewide Information System.  This will save the state about $51,000 a year in data entry fees.  Mailing costs alone for getting that information from the parks to the state capital in Little Rock run between two and five dollars a day; eliminating these expenses will save the state an estimated of $52,000 annually.

Another breakthrough for Arkansas State Parks will be their ability to provide Internet reservations over the State Parks system’s website, www.ArkansasStateParks.com.  Chris Snodgrass explains, “When we evaluated the property management system, we learned we could also use our supplier’s Web booking engine to offer reservations for all our state recreation facilities over the Internet.  Since the booking engine is integrated with the PMS, our site will always display accurate availability information for our properties so guests may reserve campsites, lodges, or rooms at our properties.  This will help us improve customer service tremendously because we take most of our reservations over the phone now, and the same staff that checks in guests at our parks answers these calls.” 

Reliability was important to Arkansas Park’s supervisors, so much so that the multi-property system utilizes a Citrix architecture so each of the Park facilities has its own PC and system.  Through the state’s network, Arkansas Park’s properties will automatically upload their operational information to the central server for consolidation of financial, reservations, and marketing data to simplify reporting and reservations, and in turn receive reservations over the network from other parks on a real-time basis.  Dan DeLaughter, Director of Management Information Systems explained, “In the future, the system will have the flexibility for guests visiting an Arkansas State Park to book space or rooms anywhere in the Park system.  With all our parks networked we will provide much better service to our citizens and out-of-state visitors.”  The statewide PMS rollout also has a unique twist to make the system more affordable for the Arkansas Parks.  The state’s supplier is training Arkansas’ own eight-person State Park installation team, and then, following the holidays the two teams will install the first 10 parks together.  “After our trainers are familiar with the installation process NORTHWIND will take a step back and let the State Parks team train and install the remaining 17 parks on their own,” said DeLaughter. 

Arkansas State Parks will also use the new enterprise, multi-property system for marketing tasks that will coordinate promotional activities across the entire park system.  Chris Snodgrass explained,  “We will use our new central database reporting to track revenue generated by our promotions via zip code and region, which will help us better target our marketing efforts.  The property management system will also generate mailing labels, and then verify our ad campaigns’ success rates.  All these statistics are being tallied manually now at DeGray Lake Resort.”   Snodgrass noted that, during the transition to the new system, his and the vendor’s teams entered 4,000 reservations in less than three weeks and checked them for accuracy against daily written arrival lists.  “I highly compliment both my team for their dedication and extra effort during the transition, and also the NORTHWIND operational folks for excellent training and support during the successful initial install.”

About Arkansas State Parks 

Visitors from all over the world may enjoy a wide diversity of facilities and outdoor activities through the 51 parks in the Arkansas State Park system.   Overnight accommodations and facilities range from mountain lodges to cozy cabins and riverside campgrounds. The State Parks offer access to 29 lakes and 10 rivers for boating, floating, fishing and other water sports. For land lovers, there are biking and hiking trails, a championship public golf course and the Arkansas Crater of Diamonds State Park, which has the only diamond mine in the United States that is open to the public. Visitors may search the crater for precious gems, including diamonds.  History buffs may explore Civil War battlefields, a 19th century museum village and prehistoric Native American Indian mound sites.  In October 2003 The United States Mint released the Arkansas quarter making it the twenty-fifth coin in the 50 State Quarters® Program. The Arkansas quarter design bears the image of rice stalks, a diamond and a mallard gracefully flying above a lake, celebrating the outstanding resources of the “Natural State”.  Arkansas is renowned for its outstanding waterfowl hunting and is also the nation’s leading producer of rice.  To learn more visit http://www.arkansasstateparks.com.

About NORTHWIND

NORTHWIND (www.maestropms.com), known in the hospitality industry for its service and state-of-the-art technology, is widely respected for providing hotels, guests, and corporate management companies with flexible software solutions.

Based in Markham, Ontario, Canada, with a network of dealers and offices worldwide, NORTHWIND is a leading supplier of software for hotel owners and operators who need to manage their enterprise in a real time environment for maximum operational control and profitability.  Designed to handle any size hotel, resort, meeting/conference center, multi-property and for the enterprise, NORTHWIND's Maestro solution offers the most productive working environment, which includes the following suite of products:  PMS, Sales & Catering, Club/Spa Management, Corporate Reservations Office, Multi-Property Management, Condominium Owner Management & Timeshare Owner Management, Yield Management, GDS Connectivity and ResEze (Internet Reservations).  This comprehensive multi-platform (Windows 9X/NT/2000/XP, Unix/Linux, Terminal Server & Web Enabled) suite is recognized as the solution of choice for progressive and demanding organizations.  NORTHWIND is a total solution provider that offers leading-edge technologies, and unparalleled training and support. 

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Contact

ARKANSAS STATE PARKS 
Dan DeLaughter, Director
Management Information Systems
Phone:  (501) 682-3410
Email: dan.delaughter@mail.state.ar.us
http://www.arkansasstateparks.com

NORTHWIND
60 Renfrew Drive, Suite #235
Markham, ON L3R 0E1
Phone: (905) 940-1923 ext - 229
1-888-NORTH88 (667-8488)
Fax: (905) 940-1925
Email: info@maestropms.com
http://www.maestropms.com


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