Since participation fees are the main source of income for a camp of any kind, and the one thing allowing it to stay operational, increasing enrollment is an integral part of running such a program.
A great way to maximize participation is to start the registration process early. There are a myriad of camps and programs for parents to choose from.
By getting a head start, you will have a chance of catching the early risers and filling out your quota ahead of time.
In this article, we will show you a few ways to optimize your early registration process.
Let us start with a management tool that will make your job much easier—camp registration software.
Go Online With Camp Registration Software
Starting the registration process early means you will have to work on it for months in advance of the opening date.
If you are operating a bigger camp, managing registrations for a large number of participants could end up eating away at your free time.
Fortunately, you can streamline the entire process by utilizing camp registration software.
This will save you a lot of trouble dealing with emails, payments and registrations. What is more, it will do the same for the parents.
A dedicated software solution should have all the tools to make registrations and payments effortless.
Providing a quick and easy-to-follow sign-up procedure is crucial for achieving high attendance.
If registration proves too complicated or difficult, parents could give up out of frustration or lack of time.
On the other hand, if you leave them with a positive, hassle-free first experience, they have a higher possibility of sticking with your program.
With camp registration software like Regpack, you can go online in just a few simple steps.
For a start, request a demo of the software and sign up. Do not worry, registration is straightforward and it should take just a few minutes.
Then, create a registration form using our online form builder. There are a ton of free templates to try out.
If you do not find what you need, you can easily customize a template or create a new one from scratch using an intuitive drag-and-drop interface.
Here is how that looks:
The great thing about Regpack’s registration forms is that they use conditional logic. In other words, every answer affects the subsequent questions that will be asked.
That way, parents will only have to answer questions that apply to them, saving them time.
Next, you can integrate payment processing.
Parents will appreciate the ability to choose their favorite payment method. In addition, not having to redirect to an external site to pay will instill trust in your program.
Finally, set up triggered emails to send to parents after completing a certain action, like filling out a registration form or making a payment.
This will make them feel noticed and appreciated, ensuring a stronger connection between your program and its members.
Now you have your setup, let us dive into other tactics for increasing early enrollment. For example, picking the launch date.
Strategize When to Open Early Registrations
With camp registration software, you could start registering applicants as early as today. But that does not mean you should rush into it.
With marketing, timing is everything. A well-placed launch could make a difference when it comes to the success or failure of your project.
In fact, research by CB Insights found that mistimed product launches are one of the top reasons startups fail:
Surprisingly, in terms of importance for success, timing is in the same ballpark as the quality of the product and pricing.
That is why it is beneficial to carefully plan when to launch your program. There is no one correct time.
It all depends on the type of your camp, the opening date, and your target audience. However, there are some guidelines to help point you in the right direction.
Generally, early registrations start three to six months before the opening date.
For example, if you were organizing a summer camp taking place in June or July, you would begin with sign-ups anytime from January to early April.
This leaves you enough leeway to take advantage of early registration, while also not turning into an interminable management process.
Additionally, try and pick an opening date that coincides with commercial trends—for example, Christmas or the start of a new year.
Similarly, if you are running a spring camp, Thanksgiving and Black Friday come to mind. The point is, people will be more incentivized to buy if they are already in a giving and buying mood.
A well-timed launch is not the only factor you need to consider for your enrollment strategy.
You also need to make sure parents take advantage of your early offer, by creating a sense of urgency.
Create a Sense of Urgency
Have you ever made a decision—to check your social media, go to an event, or buy an item—based on the feeling that you will lose out on something valuable if you don’t?
Perhaps you were worried you wouldn’t read the latest hot news story, be a part of a forever-talked-about party, or secure a once-in-a-lifetime deal for an item you wanted.
If you have, you are one of many who experienced the phenomenon called the fear of missing out (FOMO).
The term was first used in 2004, but it is already fairly common nowadays, especially with young adults.
Strategy Online’s survey revealed that the majority of millennials experienced FOMO at least once, with most admitting to making a purchase in the next 24 hours as a result.
Seeing as these numbers are a few years old, following trends would imply that they have only gotten higher.
To take advantage of FOMO, you need to create a sense of urgency with the customer. There are a few common tactics to achieve that.
Firstly, you can advertise there are only a limited number of spots available. Whether you just want to point it out or include a live counter will depend on the situation.
For example, if you had 500 spots, and only 10 were taken, a counter would create the opposite of the desired effect, making it seem like no one is interested in your offering.
If a counter is a suitable solution, you could make a countdown timer to the day early registration ends.
As to actually building a counter, there are websites that offer them for free. However, you will have to dish out a few bucks a month for a more polished version like the one below:
As you can see on the left, they are easy to customize. After you make the design you like, you just need to embed the code onto your website and you are done.
Lastly, you can create a sense of urgency by making a waitlist. You can start by contacting the applicants from last year.
If you get them on early enough and they still remember the good times they had at your camp, they will be more likely to see the matter as resolved and not look for an alternate solution later.
All of that said, the best way to stir a sense of excitement in your potential applicants is to combine these tactics with a reward system, such as early-bird discounts.
Offer Early-Bird Discounts
Early-bird discounts are a tried-and-true way to improve your registration strategy.
After all, parents need a good reason to commit to a program, especially if you are starting very early.
At that point, choices are sparse, and in their mind, a better one could be just around the corner. Also, parents have to deal with a constant influx of expenses related to their children.
Therefore, if they have the possibility to put off payment until later, they will gladly take it.
However, offering a reasonable discount can push them in the right direction. Forward-thinking parents will recognize this as an opportunity to both save money and get peace of mind.
Faced with the prospect of ending up having to pay more or losing a spot for their children altogether, they are more likely to act in your favor.
As for the rate, you should set your discount somewhere between 10% and 20%. It is the usual discount rate for early-bird offers—and probably for a good reason.
A discount of less than 10% is something people see regularly in stores, so it fails to make the deal feel exclusive, and therefore worthy of a premature investment.
On the other hand, more than 20% could prove to be too good of an offer to miss out on.
In other words, you could end up with more early-bird applicants than you accounted for, hurting your bottom line.
In any case, if you decide to manage your registration with Regpack, the setup for discounts is fairly simple.
To begin, you need to create the discount. You can easily adjust the price, expiration date and other eligibility options from the dashboard.
Once you have it set, you can use our trigger function to apply the discount for all new accounts until the expiring date.
This way, you ensure you do not have to deal with unsatisfied parents who were accidentally overcharged for the program.
All in all, early-bird discounts serve as a great motivator for parents to enroll their children in your camp. Let us explore another one.
Establish a Referral Program
What if you could incentivize parents to both enroll their children in your program and spread the word to others in their circle?
Talk about taking out two birds with one stone, right? Well, that is what referral programs are for.
Referral programs are set up to offer various rewards for parents bringing in new members to your camp. This is a great marketing tactic, for obvious reasons.
When it comes to purchasing decisions, people trust friends and family the most.
The famous data measurement company Nielsen did a 56-country-wide study of consumer trust, and found that:
This especially goes for parents. Being very protective of their children, they are naturally more inclined to take advice on where to send them for the summer from someone they know.
Therefore, all you need is to pick an appropriate reward and let the members do the rest. You can offer camp store credits, discounts or dollar amounts off for every referral.
There is no recommended amount, but rewards usually go up to ten percent of the program price.
For example, Circle F Dude Ranch’s prices for major programs range from $3850 to $4950, with rewards of $300 per referral.
Source: Circle F
Although less than 10%, it is a decent incentive for people to spread the word about the program to friends that might be interested.
And if recommendations do not sound convincing enough, you can also offer a two-way reward system.
In this case, parents that have been referred by other members would get a discount as well, making everyone a winner.
Ultimately, having a referral program can increase early enrollment and create a strongly connected network of parents and students.
The key point to take away from this article is that early registrations, combined with some simple marketing tactics, could be a game changer for your camp’s enrollment numbers.
The best thing is, everything mentioned in this article can be set up in a short time following simple procedures. Furthermore, a large part of the system can be automated.
Consequently, by investing a bit of effort into your early registration strategy, you can end up with more participants, while having to put in less work than you had before.