The state park system of Texas is scheduled to launch a new business software system this spring, that integrates customer-friendly features along with comprehensive and trackable real-time park and financial data, and is expected to improve numerous facets of the agency’s business and reservation functions for parks.

A key benefit for park customers is that people making online camping reservations will no longer pay the extra $3 fee that has been traditionally charged for booking via the Web.

“In the long run, this will be very beneficial for the millions of people who love our state parks, and for our state agency,” said Walt Dabney, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department state parks director. “However, we do ask folks to bear with us on a few short-term inconveniences. We’ll have to temporarily suspend statewide park reservations for two weeks when we transition to TxParks. And there may be occasional delays to pay and enter some parks the first few weeks as we break in the new system.”

The new system, coined TxParks, is scheduled to go live May 12, and is being implemented across the board at all 93 state park locations as well as the park Customer Service Center for centralized reservations, which is located at the division’s Austin headquarters. Phase 1 of the new system, which has been contracted out to Active Network, a company specializing in outdoor reservations software, has been in development for more than two years.

In order to meet the system’s go live date in May, the park’s central reservation desk and all internet reservations will be temporarily suspended for two weeks, beginning at 6 p.m. April 27, while the new software is installed, and then resume business as usual at 9 a.m. on May 12. During this hiatus of the main central reservations office, park visitors can still contact the Customer Service Center with questions, but those needing to make reservations, will need to contact each park individually during those two weeks.

Although the new system is expected to make wholesale improvements to most all aspects of future park services—such as faster on-site customer processing, site fulfillment of State Parks Passes, as well as improved state park reservations—customers may experience some interim delays, as park operations migrate to the new platform. However, steps have been taken to reduce the amount of down time associated with the switchover, such as installing the new system after the annual spring break camping reservations rush.

“For starters, Phase 1 of this new system launch will make state park annual pass cards now immediately available for folks to take with them as soon as they purchase one; no more temporary cards or lag time waiting through the mail. And they can use their park pass and discounts on their very first visit,” said Mike Crevier, state parks business management director. “By eliminating the fee that is currently being charged to campers who want to make a reservation over the internet, we hope to encourage more folks to use the convenience of online reservations.”

Other benefits to the system include the availability of new State Park Gift Cards, which can be procured at any park and redeemed as a cash equivalent for any park purchase or rental, such as entrance or camping fees, state park store merchandise, canoe or kayak rental, or any other transaction. New, color-coded Parklands Passport cards, commonly called “Bluebonnet Passes,” which are free to senior citizens, people with disabilities and disabled veterans, also will be available. All park-related pass cards will also now include a bar code and magnetic stripe on the back, and will be scan-able for customer data upon park entry.

Furthermore, the new holistic software program should also help the park system more efficiently serve its customers by simply knowing more about the kinds of things they want, as well as when and where they want them. The business software component is able to produce reports that more accurately calculate fiscal control, and track consumer trends, popular items and features.

For more information about Texas State Parks, contact (512) 389-8900, or visit the Web site at .

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