So you want to know the secret to boosting camp registration? Don’t worry, I won’t make you scroll down to the end in order to find out the secret. While there are many great ways to boost enrollment for your camp, like offering early bird registration deals, referral discounts, and killing it at social media, offering a wait list for camp sessions can improve your registration numbers by 45.7%!
OK, now that the secret is out let’s dig into why this is so and how to do it right!
Why is the ability to wait list campers so important?
There are a ton of reasons wait listing is helpful for your enrollment numbers, which I will go into in more detail below. Wait listing plays into a larger strategy of making registration easy, getting the information you need on time, and locking in payments so you can get paid when you fill open spots to keep the cash flowing.
It is common that certain programs or dates you offer for camp fill up quickly. When a parent who really wants a specific session or time frame sees that the session is sold out or unavailable, they will do 1 of 2 things. They will either select another option that you have available. This happens about 27.5% of the time according to our data. Or, they will open a new tab and search for another local camp that has what they want, and check out that availability. This happens about 58.2% of the time. Assuming that other camp is available, they will happily leave you and signup with them!
58% is a pretty big number! And you could probably cut that down substantially by keeping those parents invested in you. Their preferred program might be sold out, but by offering a wait list option can help you lock those parents in and prevent them from going somewhere else. Plus, it gives you another opportunity to close the deal when a spot opens up, or to give you time to create another session if demand is high.
Inevitably some kids will drop out of their session, oftentimes at the last minute. If you have a wait list in place, you already have an accessible base to tap into to fill your program and stabilize your cash flow. The great thing about a wait list feature if it is part of your camp software, is it can allow you to collect all of the information you need to register that camper in advance, including payment information. You can even prioritize the campers you enroll from the wait list, based on whether or not they’ve completed registration and input payment information so you can change their status and get them setup fast!
Wait lists ensure that:
Your sessions stay full.
That you get paid on time.
Helps you learn about your clients. (What programs are filling up? Which are staying open? Should you add another session?)
If your camp software doesn’t offer a wait list feature, I’d strongly consider finding one that does. It can be a serious boost to your enrollment numbers this upcoming summer!
You mentioned other great ways to boost enrollment. What are they?
While wait listing is a must-have feature for a registration software, there are some other great ways you can start doing NOW to boost enrollment for next summer.
1. Give referral incentives to returning families.
Whether it’s free stuff from your camp store, a dollar amount or percentage off registration, or a discount for referring a new family, honor your repeating customers and give them a reason to come back!
2. Create an early registration plan.
In addition to offering referral discounts to loyal families, offering early bird registration to new and returning families is a great way to start your cash flow early and start marketing ASAP, or even all year round. Some camps do a Black Friday sale for camp. Others offer a discount when they book at the end of this summer, for next summer. Get more camp marketing ideas here. Get creative and test out some different early registration plans this year and see what works for your camp.
3. Use social media well!
Instagram and Facebook are amazing for camps because they are so visual. You can really share your camp, your story, your values, and your mission on these platforms. Post great videos, pictures, camper testimonials, blog posts, etc. The sky’s the limit! It’s a great supplement to your website to showcase all your camp has to offer and paint a picture of the experience to be had at your camp.
4. Optimize your website.
You can do this in a few ways.
- Make sure it is easy to navigate.
- Includes your mission and what you are all about.
- An easy way to begin registering (a “register here” button) or a separate page with your registration embedded on it.
- Pictures and videos of camp.
- Parent and camper testimonials.
- Obvious and easy to find links to social media pages.
- Contact form AND an easy way to find out how to get in touch via email, phone, etc.
- Make sure your website and registration process is mobile optimized.
A first time visitor to your site, according to research, will take 3-6 SECONDS to determine if they are going to stay on your site or leave. That is a really short amount of time! You need to make sure your website design is catchy enough to pull them in. Whether you do this with awesome photography or a catchy title is up to you. Remember that if your website looks confusing and isn’t pleasing to the eye immediately, you will lose traffic!
Conclusion: Maximize your camp’s enrollment, and profit, by enabling wait listing.
The goal with using any kind of camp software is to help you automate your process. A wait list option allows you to collect the information you need from campers, including payment information. So when that camper goes from wait listed to enrolled, you don’t miss a beat!
Chasing down a newly enrolled applicant days or hours before the session begins is a headache. Let your camp software do the work! Never miss out on unsigned forms or outstanding payments again!