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SANParks Website Annual Report 2005 - 2009

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SANParks Website Annual Report 2005 - 2009

Unread post by DuQues » Mon Nov 21, 2005 1:30 pm

One year http://www.sanparks.org
This weekend marks the first anniversary of the website, so let's have a look at developments during the past year.

Visitors
The website went online on 27 november 2004 at 16:00 hours.
By December visitor numbers had grown to an average of 2067 visitors per day, which is very good for a recently launched site. The amount of visitors sky-rocketed, and averages about 10.000 visitors a day at present.

The webcam
Obviously the webcam attracts a lot of visitors. The webcam page is the best viewed page on the site and many sites refer to it. A year ago, the webcam was at a different location, with quite a different view:
{dead links removed by a moderator}

Image
The last pic was posted by Bwana, who was the first one to figure out how to post photo's.

However that location presented unique problems:
Kruger wrote:Unfortunately we have to close the overflow of water from the cement crib outside view into the natural waterhole you are used to. Large numbers of animals are visiting the natural waterhole at the moment (because of this overflow and presence of water) and this action is causing a lot of erosion which is not acceptable. The closure of the waterflow (which is pumped) to the natural waterhole, will cause the natural waterhole in view to dry up, except when it is filled by rain in future.

On 28 September 2005 this resulted in the cam being relocated.
Image Image
This location has already given us very good sightings, much better than the old location, but small animals proved difficult to identify as the cam was placed a bit far from the waterhole. No trouble for SANParks staff, they complied with the requests and relocated the camera.

The website
The site hasn't been stagnant either, with enhancements added frequently and sometimes unnoticed. Because of the enormous amount of visitors, the web server had to be upgraded after nearly going down. It is working fine now.
So much has been added to the contents of the site that the list becomes endless. To name but two, for those that haven't noticed; introduction videos for the main parks and available camp maps have been added.

The forum
A lot of the visitors to the site visit the forums. And boy, do they post! Currently there have been 94.000 posts in about 5000 topics as well as 25.000 PM's. Some 40.000 posts have thus far been kept for the information they carry, which is quite a lot.
This was more than expected, so moderators were introduced, chosen from the more active members. These moderators are expected to clean up the forums and keep it the friendly place it's been so far. They also pass on requests and suggestions from members to the SANParks personnel.

Some organisation of the forums was needed, so with Admin's assistance new forums were created as soon as requested, resulting in Chit-Chat, Member Activities and Wildlife Photography Enthusiasts among others.
Not only the forums were (re)arranged, members united to arrange special projects too. Some projects include new binoculars and bird books for two well-known Kruger staff members, several member meets, a system recognition system for members visiting the Parks(the famous Yellow Ribbon) and of course the donations towards the new webcams. The second webcam will be placed at Satara, and has been paid for by forum members or -visitors. After many, many ideas and long discussions forum T-shirts, designed by forum members have been produced.

Besides all these time consuming activities, loads of helpful tips and advice has been given; descriptions of camps and roads have been posted, people got help planning their iteneraries and delicious recipes were shared.

Recent sightings which almost come in realtime have resulted in changed bookings as well as us almost knowing the names of the animals. Not only that, forumites that were in the Park have been directed to kills reported in that topic.

Three Bricks for Africa have been bought by forum members which will be laid at the Eco-Centre site which is located just inside the western boundary of Kruger, a little over one kilometre south of the new Phabeni Gate. That topic is not closed yet, you can find it here if you want to help My Acre of Africa build an Endowment Fund which will ensure the conservation of Southern Africa's unique and beautiful wild life and wild lands far into the future.

Changing people
One thing that has changed people a lot is the talk about birding, be it identification requests, or just talk about rare birds like the Narina Trogon.
Suddenly people started buying birding books, going to Parks or even the garden to seek out birds to tick off their lists. Even people who hardly noticed birds before got involved.
Bags containing lunch and laptops suddenly became very heavy as maps and bird, plant, tree, spoor and invertebrates identification books were added for use at work...

Fun
Not all forum content is deadly serious though. Most certainly not! We had great fun discussing springbok in Kruger and tinned skilpaadjies to name but two. Because of the Springbok and Skilpaadjies all Males became Musketeers and all females became Angels. Thank you SANParks for allowing that!
The fairly recently created forum called Quizzes is a downright hit, and lots can be learned from there as well. (Bring your books and maps!)

Frequently Asked Questions
The most popular question is without doubt "How do I post a pic?", so a little tutorial was written.
However other questions were often asked as well, like driving from Joburg to Kruger, what to wear, etc. So we wrote a FAQ (Surprising Admin with that one :D ), which has proved useful to a lot of people by the looks of it. It has been viewed nearly 6000 times, making it the best read topic on the forum.

Impact on SANParks
No conclusive statistics are available, but staff is convinced that the website has had an enormous impact on their operations. The number of unnecessary "No, sir, not available for that weekend." kind of calls has decreased dramatically and the number of calls from informed users who know what they want, has increased dramatically.
The number of new bookings has risen by 12% in August, September and October 2005, compared to the same period in 2004.
Last edited by DuQues on Wed May 17, 2006 4:28 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Not posting much here anymore, but the photo's you can follow here There is plenty there.

Feel free to use any of these additional letters to correct the spelling of words found in the above post: a-e-t-n-d-i-o-s-m-l-u-y-h-c

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Year Report

Unread post by DuQues » Mon Nov 27, 2006 11:53 am

The second year http://www.sanparks.org
Time flies, and the second year the site is in the air has already passed. So time for a little flight through the past year.

Visitors to the site and forum
At the end of the last year there was an average of about 10.000 visitors a day. This has fluctuated a bit, with a high of almost 19.000 in January, but still averages around 10.000 per day. Per month they view about 2¼ million pages of which the forum pages are the most viewed, followed by the Gallery and availability.
The amount of visitors was more than the server could bear, resulting in frequent outages, and in February, a complete servercrash. A backup had to be restored, and the website was transferred to a larger server, which seems to be holding up very well.

The website
The site hasn't been stagnant either, with enhancements added frequently and sometimes unnoticed. Because of the enormous amount of visitors, the web server had to be upgraded after nearly going down. It is working fine now.
So much has been added to the contents of the site that the list becomes endless. To name but two, for those that haven't noticed; introduction videos for the main parks and available camp maps have been added. On average 40 stories a month are added to the website. The site has seen the addition of numerous new 'mini site' like that of the honorary rangers, social science pages, Kruger scientific pages, the restaurant and new pages for the site (history here, activities there etc.) are added all the time, on average 4 a day. The the TMNP and Addo sites were completely transfered to the SANParks CMS (Content Management System, the system that takes care of the styles etc.) The real time booking system is under developement and may be up by the end of the year. We're also hosting nice projects like the writing competition and Objective Duke, as well as surveys using the new tool admin has developed.
All accommodation types have been photographed and published online, except for Kgalagadi and the majority of the Kruger camps.

The forum
The community is still growing rapidly, partially due to the required registration for the Satara Webcam, but also due to the fact that many people bump into the forum looking for information. The forum community has grown from 1,602 members in December 2005 to almost 8000 today. Many of them ask for information, or to help out with their itinerary. Luckily this also results in them turning in trip reports and photo's. The trip reports have been combined into one forum, Trip Reports From All SANParks, where at the moment some 350 reports reside, many with very good photo's.
This meant a lot of work for the moderators, so the team was expanded to 7 people. Unfortunately Wildtuinman has decided to resign, so we are back to 6 people, however we now also have a Web Content Editor, who jointed the E-Commerce team in April 2006, Dianne. She handled the writing competition and other major initiatives that have been conducted/covered online, along with daily updates of news and events from all SANParks
On the Parks side we got a few members that received the Guru-status. Some are volunteers working in the Parks, others are SANParks personel. Two of them really made an impact on the forums, Jannie Kriel, head of the guiding department in the Kgalagadi, and Stephen Nel, at the time hospitality manager in Biyamiti.
Both are very active on the forums, though Stephen accepted a position in Berg en Dal and has been too busy to post after that. The information and help they gave on the forums certainly made an impact on both the forums, and on the bookings in their areas. That certainly is visible, but more on that later.
The forum also asked for, and received, a way to donate money towards several projects within the Parks. One has been realised, the Satara webcam came online in February. The Satara Webcam target amount (R15,290.00) was reached on 21 October 2005. All of this was raised by the forumites. It has been on the air most of the time which the Orpen cam unfortunately is not. The facilities in Orpen were upgraded, and the construction work damaged the cable to the webcam several times. It was taken offline and will be replaced with a camera like the one in Satara.
One project got a lot of sponsoring in a completely new way, The Search for Duke enticed bets from forumites which are donated towards the Cybertracker Programme. Even though Duke was not found the forumites decided to donate the bets towards that project anyway and a total of R12.410,00 was raised, enough for two Cybertracker units!

Impact on SANParks
From Tourism point of view the movement has been positive in the past 12 months and we wish to think that the web has been instrumental in achieving this.
Unit Occupancy
The average unit occupancy for the six months was 73,6% (last year 70,0%) comprising 61,3% (last year 55,0%) for Park Division and 78,7% (last year 75,6%) for Kruger Division.

Top Five Parks
Position Park Occupancy (6 months - end Sept.)
1 Kgalagadi 84,9%
2 Addo 79,5%
3 Kruger 78,7%
4 Marakele 66,1%
5 Augrabies 63,6%

Top Five Camps
Position Camp Occupancy (6 months - end Sept.)
1 Biyamiti 96,3%
2 Kieliekrankie 95,6%
3 Urikaruus 94,9%
4 Balule 94,1%
5 Talamati 93,7%

Camping
Over collective six month period camping is still firmly up from previous year by 16,4%. In the case of Parks Division, camping is up firmly 36,5%, while Kruger Division increased by 9,2% person-nights.

Activities
For 12 months under review, September overall activity figures are up by 17,2% compared to previous year. Kruger activities were up 4,2% and Parks up strongly by 69,8%.
Not posting much here anymore, but the photo's you can follow here There is plenty there.

Feel free to use any of these additional letters to correct the spelling of words found in the above post: a-e-t-n-d-i-o-s-m-l-u-y-h-c

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Unread post by KNP Spokesman » Mon Mar 12, 2007 10:58 am

Hi Duco

Well ... if your report doesn't show us the effect of the forum on our parks, then I don't know what will. Thanks for that effort!

Just to add a snippet or two from my side:

* Tsendze Rustic Campsite - This was the first major KNP tourism product that enjoyed extensive marketing on the website on its launch. Apart from coverage in the South African print and electronic media and a visiting group of tour operators, this camp has had NO other marketing besides what has been said, written and posted on the website. So I guess you can say that the continued success of Tsendze is directly related to the SANParks website forum discussions on that subject!
* The SANParks Week last year was also the first large scale "event" that made extensive use of the website in order to build awareness for SANParks in general and the specific things that were launched during that week (ie the Boardwalk at Skukuza) in particular. As a result, the Boardwalk is a regular discussion item and visitors often visit the facility.

SANParks could not have achieved these successes without the dedicated effort of the forum moderators and the support and enthusiasm shown by the forum members. Lets all vow to keep up this great effort!

(What with the Cricket@Skukuza event, and a few other things we have planned for 2007, I can't wait to read Duques' report at the end of this year!)

Kind regards
KNP Spokesman
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110 Years of Conservation Success - Now isn't that worthy of a Celebration!

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Unread post by DuQues » Tue Nov 27, 2007 11:59 am

The Third year http://www.sanparks.org

It's time for the third annual report from www.SANParks.org.

Visitors to the site and forum

Compared to last year there was growth of 20% in the visits to the website. So there are around 7.500 unique visitors per day, reading just under 4 million pages per month. The interactive forums are the most visited section of the website, but the webcams come a very close second. The webcams really saw a sharp rise in viewers which reflects in the amount of data the server delivers; until August this year the server dished out about 350 GB per month, but August topped that easily with a whopping 827.20 GB! That is .82 Terabyte! When you realize that the photos posted on the forums are not actually hosted on the SANParks server, you will see that an enormous amount of information about wildlife and conservation has been sent worldwide via this website.

All this activity has placed a large load on the server. As with last year though, we hope an upgraded server will be up and running soon.

The website

Today the SANParks realtime booking system goes live. This is certainly the biggest development to the site this year. The new online booking system was officially announced by Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk, at the World Travel Market (WTM), in London. The system is expected to launch South Africa's premier conservation agency into a world class tourism agency which embraces the potential presented by the online environment.

This system enables public members (but not yet the commissioned Travel Trade) to complete their entire booking online in a few relatively simple steps. After a once-off registration, clients can browse accommodation availability in various parks and camps, build an itinerary and pay conservation and accommodation fees with their credit cards wherever they are. The reservation confirmation is then confirmed through an email.

The website also boasts a new blog feature. While this section of the website is in its infancy, look out for exciting developments and an array of bloggers during the course of 2008.

General site updates continue, with the addition of Mokala, the newest addition to the SANParks stable. Most camps accommodation has been comprehensively photographed and made available at the click of a button. More than 300 news items have been posted on the site's home page!

The website continues to support various business divisions and units, as well as the honorary rangers with subsite development and applications like the survey tool, which has been used to gather important client information.

The Stiffnecks, (SANParks Forum Birdclub) has established itself on the forums, as well as on the main section of the website where you can access the club's newsletters, as well as information on club events, and links to checklists, sightings, hides and more.

The Website Community Award category was created as part of SANParks annual CE and Kudu Awards. These awards aim to reward stakeholders and staff for their contributions and efforts in making South African National Parks the custodian of choice for protected areas. The website community choice award gave members of this community to opportunity to recognize consistent excellent service to a staff member of choice. Jan Kriel, former Head of field guiding in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park won the award.

The first SANParks electronic newsletter was published to good acclaim. Unfortunately, due to severe staff shortages, there hasn't been a second newsletter. SANParks looks to rectify this as soon as possible.

The site continues to use a bottom up approach to content that is driven by user needs and interests. Increasingly e-commerce is aware of how technology impacts a user's experience of SANParks, as well as the impact of web2.0 technologies and social networking tool like facebook. E-commerce would like to continue to incorporate such tools into our broader site strategy.

The forum

The forum community has grown to more than 10.000 members. Not all of them log in everyday of course, and some are not active anymore, but we welcomed more than 2000 members this year alone.

Many of the core members who participate regularly have met each other in person. Forum meets are frequently arranged, ranging from mini-meets to big international meets. Two forum members who met online even got married.

Some highlights include the inaugural cricket@skukuza, the follow up to Operation Duke, as well as Operation Pels. These continue to be part of the forums well supported fundraising efforts. The forum members involved in this effort are too many to name, but the details can be found online.

Birdbooks, binos and more were donated by forum members to enthusiastic birding staff at Letaba and Pafuri. Forum members also purchased My Acre of Africa bricks (Brick # 2830, 2831 and 3832).

The annual forum awards were revamped with the help of the forum awards committee 2007, a group of ten forum members nominated to help restructure the awards. Their outstanding work has laid a firm foundation for these awards to continue to grow and recognize outstanding contributions online.

Forum "kudus", which reward forum members for their efforts online, continue to be awarded monthly. This year saw 38 people getting their first kudu, 11 receiving their second and 5 their third kudu. Any member of the forum can be nominated once a month by simple sending a nomination to a forum moderator.

Staff participation continues to grow online, with more guru's getting involved in responding to forum questions.

Impact on SANParks

From Tourism point of view, except for the area of activities :evil: , the movement has been positive in the past 12 months and we wish to think that the web has been instrumental in achieving this 8) .

Guests to Parks

For the seven months under review, total Guests to Parks increased by 4,9% from 2 339 431 to 2 454 107 persons through SANParks gates. For Kruger the number increased by 8,6% from 795 155 to 863 219 and for Parks it increased by 3,0% from 1 544 276 to 1 590 888 persons.

Image


Unit Occupancy
The average Unit Occupancy for the seven month term was 73,7% (last year 73,8%) comprising 58,8% (last year 61,6%) for Parks Division and 80,9% (last year 78,9%) for Kruger Division.

Top Five Parks
Position Park Occupancy (7 months - end Oct.)
Image

Top Five Camps
Position Camp Occupancy (7 months - end Oct.)
Image


Camping

For the term under review, camping is up by 4,1% from previous year from 356 654 to 371 388 person-nights. In the case of Parks Division, camping is up by 5,5% from
110 782 to 116 846 person-nights, while Kruger Division increased by 3,5% from 245 872 to 254 542 person-nights.


Activities

For the seven months under review, the Activity statistics show an overall decrease of 7,6% from 128 449 to 118 714 activities across SANParks with Kruger showing a decrease of 4,3% from 95 249 to 91 183 activities and Parks showing a decrease of 15,0% from 32 379 to 27 531 activities. Parks showing greatest decline for seven month terms are Golden Gate (-72,4%), Marakele (-66,4%), Kgalagadi (-34,2%), Tsitsikamma (-36,2%) and Augrabies (-26,7%).
Not posting much here anymore, but the photo's you can follow here There is plenty there.

Feel free to use any of these additional letters to correct the spelling of words found in the above post: a-e-t-n-d-i-o-s-m-l-u-y-h-c

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Re: SanParks Website Annual Report

Unread post by DuQues » Thu Nov 27, 2008 3:24 pm

Four years http://www.sanparks.org

http://www.SANParks.org is proudly presenting the fourth report!

Visitors to the site and forum

Quite a difference to last years report. We then had around 7.500 unique visitors per day, reading just under 4 million pages per month, now it's around 13.500 visitors per day, reading nearly 6 million pages per month!
This put quite a bit of stress on the server, so much so that it creaked. So a new more powerful server was put to work, but still not enough. A backup server was added relieving some of the outages, but the load was simply too much, so later the webcams got their own server.
With the servers happily purring away Google was allowed back on the forums, so it is now possible to use Google to search the forums again, not a luxury with well over a quarter of a million posts currently residing on the forum.

The forums went through two updates, one of reorganising the fora into a more logical structure, and one was a software update. The latter did not go as smoothly as planned, but offers both E-Commerce and members far more possibilities, and better security.
If people use mobile phones, PDA's or dial-up it is now possible to turn off most of the graphical content, which makes the pages fly in, and saves many megabytes for those people with a maximum download per month.

The website

A year ago the SANParks real time booking system went live. It took a few months for people to get used to, but lately about 2300 reservations are made online every month. A total of 20422 bookings were made (this november not included) with a value of R30+ million, so an auspicious start, as it's available to public members but not the commissioned Travel Trade yet.

The new blog feature is filling up nicely, but not attracting huge amounts of visitors yet, which is a pity as the content is very good to read. At the moment it attracts around 11.000 visitors per month.

What also went live was the forum donated webcam at Nossob, Kgalagadi. This is a huge success, and amazingly this cam has been up almost all days, which, considering the technological problems faced with, is quite a feat.

Steps were taken to establish a new HR region - the Virtual HRs and we hope to have it up and running like clockwork next year. This VHR region will enable the projects and fund raising suggested by the forumites. SANParks has a strict policy with regard to fund raising and the HRs have been given a mandate by SANParks to fund raise for SANParks. So by becoming part of the HRs we can support and coordinate the projects easily. Good progress was made this past year towards the setting up this region, and history was made with two Dutch moderators being appointed as applicant HRs. Normally the HRs only appoint folk residing in SA.

Winners of the online annual writing competition announced at launch of SANParks Week, and the Annual Photography competition had so many entries that the mods were overworked!

Among the features of the site are the surveys that are conducted either on an ongoing basis (like Guest Feedback) or periodically – like the SANParks Branding survey, Restaurant services survey, and Web Reputation survey. These are actively used in decision making by the relevant SANParks departments.

Public members interested in building a career at SANParks can apply for jobs directly through the E-recruitment system, which advertises all current vacancies at any given time.

The site continues to use a bottom up approach to content that is driven by user needs and interests. Increasingly E-Business is aware of how technology impacts a user's experience of SANParks, as well as the impact of Web2.0 technologies and social networking tool like Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, etc. E-Business would like to continue to incorporate such tools into the SANParks broader site strategy.

The Website Community Award category was created as part of SANParks annual CE and Kudu Awards. These awards aim to reward stakeholders and staff for their contributions and efforts in making South African National Parks the custodian of choice for protected areas. The website community choice award gives members of this community to opportunity to recognize consistent excellent service to a staff member of choice.

The forum

The forum community has grown to more than 13.000 members. Not all of them log in everyday of course, and some are not active anymore, but we welcomed more than 3000 members this year alone.

Some highlights include the Operation Pels.
These continue to be part of the forums well supported fund raising efforts. The forum members involved in this effort are too many to name, but the details can be found online.

The SanParks Game is now two years old, and at the time of writing at 200 pages filled with little nuggets of information, due to the easy rules: your post starts with the last letter of the previous post.

Of course the annual cricket match was a big success, in case you missed it, have a read here.
This years cricket match is planned the weekend of the 13 - 15th March 2009 and a long list of people have already stated they'll be attending.

Another almost annual event is Duke, probably the best known tusker ever. Last year forumites were (almost) witness to Duke breaking of his tusk, as regaled in The tale of the tusk, this year saw him break off his second tusk! Amazingly both broken off tusks were recovered, and again the forum was very quickly informed about the event, read about it from here.

An effort was made to have the most forumites online ever, and with 173 members online during last birthday the forumites also set a record. Read more about it here.

The annual forum awards were revamped with the help of the forum awards committee 2007, a group of ten forum members nominated to help restructure the awards. Their outstanding work has laid a firm foundation for these awards to continue to grow and recognize outstanding contributions online. Voting is still allowed at the moment of writing, but already a record number of votes have been cast.

Forum "kudus", which reward forum members for their efforts online, continue to be awarded monthly. This year saw over 50 people getting their first kudu, 17 receiving their second, 8 their third and even 2 people receiving their fourth kudu! Any member of the forum can be nominated once a month by simple sending a nomination to a forum moderator.

Two forumites were sent to Karoo National Park so they could take some photos, from a helicopter! Read all about it here. So membership to the forums can throw unexpected bonuses into your lap.

Staff participation continues to grow online, with more guru's getting involved in responding to forum questions or posting daily reports of their day in the Parks. So far 4 camps send in regular reports, Berg en Dal, Lower Sabie, Letaba and Punda Maria, which is a nice spread through the park.

Guests to Parks

For the period under review, total Guests to Parks decreased by 6,1% from 2.465.487 to 2.314.070 persons through SANParks gates. For Kruger the number decreased by 3,0% from 863.219 to 837.497 and for Parks it decreased by 7,8% from 1.602.268 to 1.476.573 persons.

Image

Unit Occupancy
The average Unit Occupancy for the seven month term was 73,7% (last year 73,8%) comprising 58,8% (last year 61,6%) for Parks Division and 80,9% (last year 78,9%) for Kruger Division.

Top Five Parks
Position Park Occupancy (7 months - end Oct.)
Image

Top Five Camps
Position Camp Occupancy (7 months - end Oct.)
Image

Camping

Camping statistics have been broadened to also include Site Nights Sold and Camp Site Occupancy.

For the seven months under review, Person Nights Sold is up by 8,4% from previous year from 371.388 to 402.529 person-nights. In the case of Parks Division, Person Nights Sold is up by 7,6% from 116.846 to 125.720 person-nights, while Kruger Division increased by 8,7% from 254.542 to 276.809 person-nights.

Site Nights Sold increased for the seven month term increased by 8,2% from 128.305 to 138.777. In the case of Parks Division Site Nights Sold increased by 4,4% from 38.921 to 40.630, while for Kruger Division the increase was 9,8% from 89.384 to 98.147.

For the seven month term the average number of persons per site sold was 2,90 (previous year 2,89) and in the case of Parks Division this was 3,09 (previous year 3,00) while for Kruger Division the average was 2,82 (previous year 2,85).

Camp Site Occupancy (sites occupied as a margin of sites available) for the seven month term increased by 3,2 percentage points from 44,4% to 47,6%. In the case of Parks Division, Camp Site Occupancy increased by 1,6 percentage points from 24,9% to 26,5%, while Kruger Division increased by 3,8 percentage points from 67,2% to 71,0%.

Activities

For the seven months under review, the Activity statistics show an overall increase of 10,5% from 119.142 to 131.651 activities across SANParks with Kruger showing an increase of 12,4% from 91.183 to 102.446 activities and Parks showing an increase of 5,5% from 27.682 to 29.205 activities. 77,8% of all SANParks activities are performed in the Kruger National Park.
For the month of October alone, overall activities increased by 11,5%, contributed by the Kruger Division increase of 13,7% and the Parks Division increase of 5,5%.
Not posting much here anymore, but the photo's you can follow here There is plenty there.

Feel free to use any of these additional letters to correct the spelling of words found in the above post: a-e-t-n-d-i-o-s-m-l-u-y-h-c

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Re: SanParks Website Annual Report

Unread post by DuQues » Fri Nov 27, 2009 1:10 pm

The fifth year http://www.sanparks.org
Almost unnoticed time slipped past, but this is an anniversary! The site and forums have been up for 5 years today!
Thank you SANParks, SANParks staff, hosting company and of course the visitors!

Image

A lot has changed during the years, a bit too much to mention in just one paragraph, so I'll look back a little bit in the next paragraphs.

Visitors to the site and forum
The website went online on 27 november 2004 at 16:00 hours.
By December visitor numbers had grown to an average of 2067 visitors per day, (...)

That was what I wrote 4 years ago. Well, it has changed a little. Quite a little bit... If I peek at the numbers for october 2009 even the saturdays are busier. (On saturdays we all sleep in and do shopping instead of spending time on this site, at least that's what the statistics imply.) Still saturday is now good for around 13.000 visitors. Which is well over six times the amount in december 2005. Sundays are slightly busier, call it 15.000 visitors per day.
Now I hear you asking what it is during the weekdays. Well, we're all at work, doing stuff for the boss of course, earning our pay, at least we should be... The friday afternoon looks like we are indeed working, for the rest of the week we're massed on the site! 20.000 visitors per day, give or take a 1.000, reading an average of 250.000 pages a day.
Just in case you wonder, lunchtime is the busiest time (by a small margin) with 446571 pages served.

The website
The site didn't change a lot during the past year, at least not at a quick glance. That doesn't mean nothing happened though.
In last years report I reported about the real time booking system which had been up for a year by then.
This system is a success, in the month of September 2009 the value of bookings done via the website beat the value of bookings done via all other channels like email, call centre, etc.

Of course that was a "safe" version, with which I mean that the functions were sure to work, and other features to be added later. And some have indeed, here is a list of changes on the websites and the bookingsystem, and the current wishlist:

Finished

* Cancelations
* Paying off outstanding fees on bookings made via non-web channels
* Still Available this Weekend published on the home page.

* YouTube webcam movies published on a daily basis.
* SANParks.mobi is up

You may not have noticed the latter two points, so let's give you a couple of links:
http://www.youtube.com/sanparks
That gives you the days sightings at the webcams as time-lapse video feeds squeezed into 3 minutes. Bishop3006 is monitoring them, and making sure you see the good ones with plenty activity only. Thank you Bishop3006!

For those stuck in traffic, at a meeting, or simply without a pc at hand there is good news, SANParks went mobile!
At this moment you get the latest newsfeed, the weather in the parks and information about reservations, as well as GPS coordinates to the gates for use in your GPS device. You can reach that at http://sanparks.mobi

I'll just wait till you are back from checking them out....

In the future the following will be added:
* Booking amendments
- adding and removing itinerary lines;
- change arrival and departure dates;
- change number of guests.
* 3D Secure - required by the banks - currently being worked on.
* Google Earth maps implementation - currently being worked on.
* Redeeming Cash-back rewards from the Wild Card - in the future plans.
* Gate Control
- purchasing a day visit for easy access - in the future plans.
- "fast lane" at the gates - in the future plans.
* SANParks.mobi - Availability
* SANParks.mobi - Bookings

At this moment the function of webdeveloper is vacant, so if you are one and want to contribute to nature ....

Since a few days (18 Nov 2009, 15:45 SAST) the line to Orpen was upgraded so more data can flow from there. This resulted in an upgrade of the quality of the webcam photos from the Orpen webcam which makes a very nice difference. We may get an even better quality in the future..

The forum
The forum is still growing, at the moment of writing we are at 17.000 members, who posted a total of 930.000 posts. Maybe we'll hit post number 1 million at the birthday? Unlikely, but....
And the forum was it's normal very active self. 8) Which meant that the moderators needed a helping hand, so 3 forum assistents were installed, Boorgatspook, CuriousCanadian and Dotty. As they are very active, both behind the scenes and openly, you will have seen and appreciated their efforts.
They were also part of the people fighting the spam which any big site attracts. In the bad days that was easily 10 spammers which managed to post on the forums a day, not counting the ones blocked as soon as they registered. Since the update to the new forum software, and a little trick, that amount has dwindled enormously, to often not even 1 a day managing a posting.

Cricket@Skukuza 2009
During March, Forumites from all over the world and South Africa gathered in Skukuza with SANParks personal involved with the forums for a weekend of socializing and fun.
The weekend kicked off with a get to know everyone braai on the Friday evening. Saturday was spent playing cricket and other games, where both the forum teams lost to the SANParks' teams ... Watch this space next year though! A very successful Silent Auction was held to raise funds.
SANParks hosted a wonderful dinner at the Skukuza Golf Club on the Saturday evening where the forum members were addressed by Mr Abe Sibiya, Managing Executive and there after entertained by our very own Forumdales!
Fundraising via the forums:
The Rat Pack initiative raised R44539; Cricket@Skukuza 2009 raised a total of R28827 and another R2000 was raised via Boutique initiatives - apart from donations of flash drives and binocs to Sandra to distribute to rangers. Most of these funds went to the SANParks Conservation Project and the Kgalagadi waterholes.
There was a raffle for those who donated, and some lucky ones won in the raffle to spend a weekend in the park on a game capture.

Some newer members turned out to be people working in and/or for the park, like Lourens (reporting from Berg en dal, later Phalaborwa), wacktazz (from Nkuhlu picnickspot) and Su-Mari (Betelgeuse on the forums). Su-Mari has unfortunately left the park after great reports from Punda Maria where she worked as a guide, let's hope a replacement will take over both the function and the place on the forums.

The blog is getting very popular with Martie reporting from her One year in Kruger. Last month that generated a whopping 150.000 pageviews, which is a lot more than the 10.000 of last years october.

The Annual Forum Photo Competition was a resounding success, with 1043 photos sent in. This caused the moderators quite a lot of work, and more than one grey hair trying to sort out the categories 10 best photos. Those 10 were then halved by Roger De La Harpe, a well known photographer and forumite, so that the forum could choose the winners.
All the photos can be found online, but not at the SANParks site. Check http://www.duques.nl/comp2008/index.php to get an impression of the very high quality of the photos entered. Mind you, that subsite is taking quite a lot of my webspace, so I may take it offline at a future date. It may come back, either hosted from storage at home, or hosted by SANParks, but for the moment make sure you have enjoyed the photos by looking at them before they are gone!

While they are not forumites, they have their fame on the forums, so we also include a sadder note... Two of the big tuskers died, Alexander and Hlanganini. In both cases they had been seen shortly before their deaths by forumites.

The SANParks forums Birding club, the Stiffnecks, was launched, and is getting great rapport.Not only is there a monthly informal photo competition, there are even bumper stickers and caps available now, beside the official badge.

Also launched is the Virtual Honorary Rangers, a branch of the Honorary Rangers. At this moment we have 4 people officially assigned as HR, including what are possibly the first ever foreign HR's, Bert and me.
The VHR region (the web) is going to run the projects raised by or along with the forums, and make use of the HR official channels. This means that we can raise funds in a legal and official way, something often asked for on the forums, but more. We can also coordinate projects which the forums would like to do in the parks together with the regional HR's, like building birdhides for instance. At this moment the VHR's are still very young, and still have to earn their spurs. But we will!

This is also the start of the season with the World Football Championship, which is going to flood the parks with visitors, and possibly the forums with questions. (And hopefully give all those football supporters a second hobby, wildlife!)

Impact on SANParks

The Online booking system probably made a huge impact. As this annual report doesn't run parallel with SANParks booking years I can't give exact numbers, but can give you a good indication of what's happening. Bookings via the Online booking system are up 52.5% compared to last year, so reservations probably has an easier time. Currently around 3.500 bookings are made online per month.
Guests to Parks

For the period under review, total Guests to Parks increased by 4,8% from 1 892 000 to 1 983 722 persons through SANParks gates. For Kruger the number increased by 8,2% from 724 432 to 784 074 and for Parks increased by 2,7% from 1 167 568 to 1 199 648 persons.
Image
Unit Occupancy

The average Unit Occupancy for the six month term was 79,6% (last year 77,8%(+1,8)) comprising 60,4% (last year 58,7%(+1,7)) for Parks Division and 88,4% (last year 87,0%(+1,4)) for Kruger Division.
So here you can see the hardest to book camps:

Image
Not posting much here anymore, but the photo's you can follow here There is plenty there.

Feel free to use any of these additional letters to correct the spelling of words found in the above post: a-e-t-n-d-i-o-s-m-l-u-y-h-c


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