Real-time Reservations: DPR Moves Community Center Booking Online

Published on August 13, 2018

Having to plan an upcoming birthday party on nights and weekends? Need to find a convenient location for an upcoming meeting quickly? Fleshing out last minute details for your organization's annual event? The Arlington Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) is here to help!

In early July, DPR introduced an online reservation process at the Arlington Mill, Fairlington, Lee, Madison and Walter Reed community centers―designed specifically so residents and organizations can reserve classrooms, gyms, outdoor plazas, and multipurpose rooms for one-time events.

"Overall, we wanted to make the customer experience easier and more efficient," DPR facility manager Nakish Jordan said. "We also thought, if we can sit in Arlington County and make a reservation for a hotel room across the world, why can't we do that here? Now, a customer can start the process from beginning to end online―get fully booked and get confirmation. Then the facility manager will follow up to continue that customer service."

"If we can sit in Arlington County and make a reservation for a hotel room across the world, why can't we do that here?"

MORE: Review the fee schedule and reserve a room

Before, customers would have to complete an External Facility Request Form and email it to the Facilities Scheduling Office. That required them to confirm the reservation over the phone, as well as complete a separate form to finalize the room set up.

[caption id="attachment_18123" align="alignright" width="300"] SAMPLE: New DPR online reservation page[/caption]

Now, the online form includes room setup details, as well as any table, chair or microphone needs.

"What would take one to two days can now be done in only a few minutes," said Robin Leonard, Deputy Division Chief of DPR's Athletic and Facility Services Division. "This really streamlined the whole process, and it's freeing up the scheduling staff to take on other roles and responsibilities as well."

This is not the County's first foray into online reservations. It has used the online process for tennis court reservations for several years, and the department was ready to expand its online services.

"We've been looking at efficiencies and providing our customers with an easier way to do what they need to do," Leonard said.

Last year, there were 501 reservations made at these five County's community centers, which told the DPR team that offering an online option would be a huge benefit for the community.

In addition to the community centers, DPR also added online reservations for the County's sand volleyball courts in July. And it's not stopping there.

In September, basketball court reservations will be available online, followed by 17 County picnic shelters in February 2019.

"This is a huge efficiency both from a staff perspective and a community perspective," Leonard said. "Before you could only reserve these facilities between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. weekdays. Now you can do it 24 hours a day."