Case Study: How Sani Valley Lodge uses online check-in & check-out

Silindile Mhlamvu has always wanted to work with people. After a stint as a stock controller with a forestry company, Silindile applied for a position at Sani Valley Lodge, at the foot of the dramatic Sani Pass in KwaZulu-Natal.

Senior Reservationist, Silindile immediately fell in love with the hospitality industry, and has now been with the lodge for eight years.

This beautiful, secluded lodge in the southern Drakensberg (and just two hours from Durban) has 11 luxury chalets accommodating 28 adults and 12 kids. Popular with local and international visitors alike (often coming to visit the pass and enjoy a drink at the highest pub in Africa!), Sani Valley Lodge has been using the NightsBridge booking system since 2014.

Lodge Manager, Gareth Miller introduced Silindile to NightsBridge and invited her to ‘have a play’. Silindile loves tech almost as much as she loves the hospitality industry and believes that you have to ‘play around with a system, actually use it, in order to get to grips with it.’ But she was an instant convert: “Ever since we moved to NightsBridge, it has changed my life. It made everything easier.”

“Suddenly,” says Silindile, “Everything was done online. Before, we had a physical diary. Bookings, invoices – everything – was done manually. NightsBridge has reduced my workload!”

Even better? Silindile no longer has to worry about double bookings! “Honestly,” says Silindile, “NightsBridge has made everything easier. And their team is always on hand to offer support, either over the phone or on TeamViewer. If they can’t fix an issue immediately, they’ll keep updating you on their progress. I’ve actually never had an issue which was not resolved within, at most, 5 hours. They are very friendly and efficient.”

When Silindile is asked whether she is using NightsBridge’s new online check-in and check-out, she laughs! “Of course! I use everything on NightsBridge because it makes life easier for me. If they’re introducing it, I’m using it!”

Once again, it’s the ease of the online offering that has impressed Silindile. “We used to send clients COVID forms, which then needed to be filled out, scanned and sent back. Now everything is done online.”

Similarly, Sani Valley Lodge guests are enjoying the online check-out service too. “Guests can check out when they want to, they can do everything in their chalet. Guests don’t like paperwork. They just want to arrive and relax – and then pack and go. They don’t want to queue, wait while you process payments etc. Not only does it give them peace of mind in terms of COVID and social distancing, but it is really convenient too.”

Silindile has enjoyed exploring the system’s functionality, capabilities and short cuts. For example, she enjoys the fact that you can link STO rates to certain travel agents and operators and the system will pick up the correct rates. “You do need to load the rates initially,” says Silindile, “But once you’ve done that it will be automatically pulled through. You do it once and it’s done forever.”

Another bonus for Silindile is that even if your client has booked directly with you, you can still generate a 3-D secure link for payment using NightsBridge. “Many clients don’t like giving you their credit cards details,” says Silindile, “They are happier using the 3-D secure links. You can send a link via NightsBridge and clients are able to process the payment themselves.”

These are just two examples of how NightsBridge has given Silindile the tools and tech to make her life easier – and their clients happier: “There is so much I could say about NightsBridge, but I would really encourage people to watch their tutorials. They are so helpful. Watch the tutorials and play around with NightsBridge. You won’t look back.”

Check out Sani Valley Lodge and Hotel on YouTube.

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