In order for your camp to prosper, it needs a constant influx of enthusiastic campers. Filling up those camp registrations year after year is a challenging task.
It takes a lot of work to make it all happen. And seemingly, the work never ends!
You know your camp is great. You just need to find a way to convince prospective attendees and their parents so you can fill those sessions to full capacity.
Luckily, there are many methods to increase enrollments and make your life a bit easier.
In this article, we’ve compiled a list of five tips that’ll help you boost your summer camp registrations.
- Streamline Your Registration Process
- Incentivize Early Registrations
- Improve Your Camper Retention Rate
- Create a Waitlist for Your Camp
Streamline Your Registration Process
Kids love summer camps. And who could blame them? Camps are fun! The camp registration process, on the other hand—not so much.
That part of the camp experience, however, is important to parents, who, after all, have the final say in their children’s summer activities.
Therefore, your registration process should be simple and easy if you want to fill up your registrations.
A general rule of thumb here is—the quicker, the better.
Streamlined registration processes don’t only inspire trust in your camp and create a sense of reliability but encourage parents to actually finish that registration process.
If you think about it, it is so easy to abandon the whole thing. It takes just one click to leave the registration page.
To prevent this, make sure your registration process is as straightforward as possible.
In that sense, it’s advisable to have every step of the registration in one place, and camp registration software is a great tool that will do just that.
Look for software with features that will make camp registration a breeze.
For example, the conditional logic feature makes the registration experience smoother by allowing you to create a personalized registration form.
Conditional logic is a helpful tool because it eliminates confusion.
For you, that means fewer phone calls and emails from stressed parents who don’t know how to proceed to the payment page.
They won’t need to call you because they will feel like you’re there with them throughout the whole registration process.
Integrated payment forms are another must-have feature.
This is essential for the optimal registration experience because easy-to-use, secure payment methods play a significant role in the parent’s decision-making.
The beauty of integrated payment forms is that they are part of the registration process. There are no annoying redirect pages. And a huge plus is if they work on any mobile device.
Take a look at, for example, Regpack’s registration form builder.
This registration form builder has all useful features and is easy to use. Just drag and drop the elements you want to include in your form.
All in all, streamlining your registration process will make the parents less likely to abandon it. The result? More registrations for your camp!
Develop a Communication Strategy
An important thing to remember is that parents place their confidence in you by sending their children to your summer camp.
Developing and maintaining that sort of trust is crucial for filling up your camp registrations year after year.
And you cannot establish trust without creating a connection with parents.
In other words, we build relationships through communication.
Good, long-lasting relationships require constant communication, and you should develop a communication strategy that reflects that idea.
So find a way to connect with parents throughout the year, and your registrations will fill up when the time comes.
You can include them in all of the stages of registration: prior, during, and after the registration process.
The first phase is essentially the marketing phase, and as such, it’s the most important. This is when you spread the news about your camp.
Use email to introduce yourself and inform parents about the camp registration process, payment policies, camp activities, etc.
The second phase occurs in the middle of the registration process.
For example, if somebody still needs to finish the registration, this is the perfect opportunity to send them an alert or a reminder to complete the registration or the payment.
Lastly, there are tons of ways to connect with parents in the post-registration phase. Send them a registration confirmation, updates, and photos from the camp.
Pretty much everything and anything that keeps the parents in the loop. It will be greatly appreciated.
This phase is also the perfect opportunity to market future programs. So send an email thanking everyone for a lovely experience, and talk about the next year’s camp.
And when the registrations open again, send a notice and consider offering a special early bird discount, like in the example below:
Yes, choosing a digital tool as the primary tool of your communication strategy may seem a bit impersonal at first glance.
However, the versatile nature of emails allows you to be creative and help you set a warm and friendly tone of communication, which will surely help you build meaningful connections with parents.
Incentivize Early Registrations
Let’s be honest, when it comes to camp registrations, speed is of the essence. Early registrations make life easier for everyone involved. So why not encourage them?
Early registrations can genuinely help you provide an excellent camping experience.
Obviously, a steady cash flow means you can invest in amazing activities and workshops your campers will love.
In addition to that, early registrations also give you more time to organize everything pertaining to the camp since they give you an idea of what you can expect in terms of enrollment.
However, for parents to feel motivated to register early, they need some kind of incentive. And there are plenty of ways to incentivize them.
No matter the method, the main idea is to create a sense of urgency and a fear of missing out.
The most common approach is to offer perks for those who register first.
Usually, this means giving away a discount for early registration, but you can provide any type of perk, including giving away presents like branded water bottles, or even free camping gear.
For example, Pioneer Camp Manitoba gives away camp T-shirts.
Source: Pioneer Camp Manitoba
If a discount makes sense for your camp financially, consider creating a discount code that you can promote online. You can put the code on your camp’s website.
Source: Summit Area YMCA
You can also include the code in your social media posts. Just don’t forget to provide a link for registration, especially if you’re posting on social media.
As you can see in the examples, you can create your own set of rules for your discount codes.
Obviously, you should definitely set a deadline for early bird applications to create a sense of urgency. Then, feel free to include additional information that will help generate buzz.
Another thing to consider is introducing discount tiers that depend on how early a person registers for your camp. In other words, the earlier a person registers—the bigger the discount.
This is also another opportunity to get creative and come up with fun names for each tier that makes sense for your camp.
Don’t go overboard with the discounts, though. You don’t want to lose money.
To sum up, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for incentivizing early registrations.
You need to figure out what works best for you and your camp.
However, these early bird discounts and perks are really something you can get creative with and modify to your requirements.
Improve Your Camper Retention Rate
Everybody knows the old saying about acquiring new clients being more expensive than retaining old ones. There’s plenty of research on this topic out there, too.
One example that supports this hypothesis is a study published by Fred Reichheld, called Prescription for Cutting Costs. In essence, depending on the industry (and research), it is up to 25 times cheaper to retain than acquire customers.
It makes sense.
In other words, it’s cheaper (and easier) to make an existing customer happy than to invest in looking for new ones.
But what does all of this mean for you? It means that you should definitely look into improving your summer camp retention rate.
It will do wonders for your enrollment because you’ll be able to count on filling up your registrations with returning campers.
Obviously enough, the key to having your campers return year after year is making them happy. And to find out if they’re happy—simply ask!
Feedback is a valuable thing, and its power should not be underestimated.
There are plenty of ways to ask for feedback: in person, over the phone, by sending out evaluation forms, etc.
When creating a feedback form, there are two main groups you want to target—the campers and their parents.
So, when coming up with the questions for the campers, center the questions around their experience.
Here are some of the questions you could ask:
The parents’ experience is also valuable. Use their feedback to examine their opinion of the registration process, their trust in you and your camp, etc.
Consider questions like these:
All in all, choosing how to get feedback is entirely up to you.
However, whether you do it in person, over the phone, or online, be sure to ask the right questions and use that data to see if you’re doing things right.
This way, you’ll surely retain some of your campers.
Create a Waitlist for Your Camp
As it was mentioned earlier, early registrations can be a lifesaver. However, from that registration in January to the start of camp in July, a lot can happen.
The reality is that sometimes plans change, and we all know parents can be pretty unpredictable.
Therefore, you should make sure your camp stays full 100%, despite the pesky cancellations.
In other words, you need a solution that will help you fill that open spot when it crops up. Waitlists do just that—and they do it immediately.
They provide a list of campers interested in your program and notify them when there’s an empty spot in the session they want.
An important thing to note is that waitlists are a great way to retain loyal campers. Now, it’s pretty common that some sessions sell out quicker than others.
When this happens, the numbers show that the parents who didn’t get to book the session they wanted will most likely look elsewhere rather than look at other options that you have available.
Take a look at the numbers below:
As you can see, only a small portion of parents will actually consider another option at your camp. They would gladly leave you for a session that suits them at another camp.
This is where waitlists come in. They will keep those parents interested in you. Moreover, a waitlist will give you time to create another session if the demand is super high.
In a way, waitlists also act as feedback. They show you which sessions are more popular, so keep an eye on the programs that sell out faster and see if there’s a need for another one.
The best way to create waitlists is via camp registration software. If you’re not already using one, you should definitely look into it.
However, if you do have the software and it has a waitlist feature, enabling waitlists is super easy. You simply set the quota, click ”Allow waitlist”, and you’re all set.
Take a look at the example below to see how this works with Regpack:
To conclude, waitlists are must-have tools that allow you to actually fill up your registrations, and since they are so easy to implement, it would be a waste not to use them. So give them a try!
Overall, filling up summer camp registrations boils down to centering the whole camping experience around campers and their families.
This may sound obvious, but it’s easy to overlook some impactful details when caught up in the complexities of running a camp.
It’s essential, therefore, to simplify the registration process, make an effort to reach out to the campers’ families year round, and find ways to reward loyal clients.
They will recognize when someone takes an extra step to make the whole experience even more special for them. And they will reward that hard work.