After a five-and-a-half-year stint at RMS, a reservation and park management software provider, Todd Sabo gave his notice in the middle of last December that he was ready to move on.
“I thought I had done as much as I wanted to and I just decided that to start the new year I was going to figure some things out and maybe start my own business,” he noted to WOODALLSCM.com (WCM).
But like almost everything in 2020, things changed when the COVID-19 crisis hit.
“I found that a lot of my ideas were not going to work in this different type of economy and that got me thinking about getting back into this business,” Sabo explained. “I was talking to a bunch of different reservation and property management software companies and determined that NewBook, although they are new to the market, has the best software and the most progressive development and robust product roadmap that I’ve seen from a software system. They needed somebody with my talent to start up a business and really make it a success here in the North American market. It was the right thing.”
NewBook is an Australian-based reservation and property management system that was founded by tourism entrepreneur and multi-generational RV park owner Brad Illich. Sabo was introduced as NewBook’s North American division president in late May.
Working out of NewBook’s Irvine, Calif. offices, Sabo told WCM that he hopes to be able to use his experience in the North American market to “take the NewBook features, functionality and commitment to first-class customer service and show park owners how to use all of these features and functionality to help drive more bookings, more upsells, all with better customer service.”
“Initially in this new COVID world that we live in, having a frictionless guest experience or a contactless guest experience is going to be very important,” he added. “I think that the outdoor hospitality market, unlike the indoor hospitality market is going to do just fine. I think bookings this summer should be robust as people are looking to still take vacations with their families but not necessarily want to get on a plane or in a hotel.”
Sabo said that NewBook has attracted a lot of interest from park owners as it continues to expand its push into North America.
“The breadth of features and functionality that NewBook has to offer, like its high conversion online booking engine, is attracting owners and everything is easy to use,” noted Sabo. “It’s also things like the social distancing technologies that the company has built into the system. Then of course it’s the ability to onboard a customer and have that customer be very successful once they go live on the system.
“One of the things that really sets NewBook apart is their commitment to customer success and customer support,” he added. “It’s really a key differentiator because when customers have questions and they can get those things resolved or get answers to those questions in a timely matter, that makes the biggest difference in the world.”
Sabo is currently focused on learning NewBook’s technology and also is building out his team in North America.
“I want to be able to focus on building out a team here in the United States to continue that mantra of first-class customer service,” he explained. “Then also look to continue to drive those customer requests for features and functionality from the United States into the product offering. Being able to be that voice for our customers, to make sure that the features and functionality that they are requesting end up getting built into the software.”
Looking to the future, Sabo said that NewBook has been working on introducing a kiosk that park owners can purchase from the company that will utilize NewBook software.
“It will give guests the option of being able to check-in, check-out, make an additional booking, book activities or facilities,” he noted. “Really sort of having that functionality there in order to let them be as contactless as possible during this COVID situation. That coupled with some of the future features that will allow customers to use mobile keys on their mobile phones. NewBook already has an Android and iPhone application that the parks can use, called Guest Assist.
“Additionally, we also came out with new functionality with RFID bands,” Sabo added. “Some park owners may want to have everybody wear an RFID band in order to gain access to the pool, or the gym, or various other places in the park. Or again, if they do have yurts or cabins, they can use this RFID bracelet for campers to gain access to their rooms. That’s currently built into the system as well.”
Sabo told WCM that a world where most, if not all reservations, are done online is not that far away.
“Having a chatbot to help make those reservations or get information is key,” he noted. “Again, this is where NewBook sets itself apart technologically from a lot of the other systems. We have Newbie, an artificial intelligence chatbot, that is very helpful in completing that online reservation. Newbie is available 24/7/365 in order to help those guests convert that reservation while the park might be closed or an owner is sleeping.”