How to Share Your Community Amenities with Residents—Without Paperwork or Hassles

How to Share Your Community Amenities with Residents—Without Paperwork or Hassles

From pools and boat slips to tennis courts and gathering spaces, planned communities include a long list of amenities that help make their neighborhoods attractive to prospective residents and enjoyable to community members. For board members and community administrators, however, making these amenities accessible can become a real chore if they’re stuck relying on old-fashioned, outdated methods to publicize these features and accept reservations or rentals for them.

Not all that long ago, about the only way that HOA administrators could tackle the task of accepting amenity reservations was through a pen and paper system that involved almost as much effort as planning an event. Some communities maintained sign-up sheets on clubhouse bulletin boards. Others delegated the task of processing reservations to a specific board member or administrator. Many homeowners associations maintained an e-mail address specifically to receive amenity reservations.

Of course, all these manual systems present significant disadvantages. The bulletin board method only works if someone checks the signup sheet frequently, follows up with residents to determine whether a reservation falls within the guidelines for the specific amenity and, if so, completes the process of scheduling the reservation. The sign-up sheet typically posts next to a schedule that lists who has reserved what on which date. If residents don’t pay attention to this upcoming schedule, they may attempt to double book an amenity, which can prompt frustration.

E-mailed reservations may require less paper and less diligence on the part of HOA administrators charged with receiving and processing requests, but someone still must undertake the chore of maintaining a schedule and following up with residents who submit reservations. Again, homeowners associations face the task of finding a way to ensure that all residents are equally aware of which amenities are available and when.

Some HOAs create reservation forms that they circulate as part of a welcome packet provided to each homeowner who moves into the community. Unfortunately, this is exactly the type of paperwork that people frequently file away, forget about, or even recycle or discard.

Given that the entire process of accepting amenity reservations is designed to make community and neighborhood life more enticing, it’s ironic that virtually all the methods involved in traditional reservation processing include so much hassle and so many opportunities for things to go wrong. Of course, the hassle isn’t an excuse for skipping the reservation process. Without some form of organized reservation method, amenities may as well not exist.

To move the process into the digital age and attempt to make it simpler and less confusing, some HOAs set up an online presence using public social media channels and use that presence to process reservations. Once again, however, even this seemingly more modern option can fall afoul of the need for someone to check reservations, process them, and keep the community apprised of which amenities will be in use on specific dates.

Traditional social media channels may not hold the ideal solution to the complexities of the amenity reservation process, but the idea of transforming the process into an online procedure definitely points in the right direction. If a homeowners association chooses the right HOA website software provider, they can move the process online on a venue they control. Depending on the website features at their disposal, they may be able to manage the entire reservation system through online forms that residents complete, accompany with any required payments, submit for approval, and, if approved, that automatically trigger amenity events to appear on shared calendars. That digital ideal is easy to accomplish with the right HOA website software

At HOAStart, we know how important it is to streamline the process of completing all the little details of homeowners association business. We know that many HOA board members and administrators undertake their community responsibilities purely as volunteers, and that they have far less time for these responsibilities than a paid staff member would be able to devote to completing them. We also know that amenities form part of the backbone of community marketing, and that the ability to reserve and publicize these amenities is fundamental to attracting residents and maintaining community spirit.

For all these reasons, we’ve built a robust system of amenity reservations, acceptance, and processing directly into the homeowners association website software we provide. Our communities can set up schedules of availability for each and every amenity, alter these schedules as needs dictate, place limits on group sizes and regulate reservation duration. Once administrators review and approve each reservation, its details appear on the community calendar that administrators can publish directly to the HOA website, either on a page that only residents can view or on one that is visible to the public. If a reservation does not abide by community rules, or in any way falls outside the approved usage of a specific amenity, administrators can reject the reservation directly through the online system.

We’ve made the entire process intuitive to set up and use, which immediately encourages residents to take advantage of the full range of options their community offers. At the same time, we’ve relieved homeowners association board members and administrators of all the hassles involved in evaluating and processing amenity reservations.

Best of all, if a specific amenity reservation involves a payment, residents can pay online using either a debit or credit card or an ACH payment, with all transactions processed securely and directly through the website itself. No checks, money orders, cash, or trips to the bank. Additionally, the online system automatically keeps track of every transaction to facilitate year-end accounting.

At a HOAStart, we want our homeowners association customers to have all the options and digital conveniences they need to make administrative matters easy to accomplish and to give residents the full benefit of every amenity that their communities offer. Want to see how easily you can set up a powerful homeowners association website? Take advantage of our 30-day free trial to test drive our software and see it for yourself.