It isn’t a new idea that camp registration software offers a family registration feature as part of their overall camp management system. Now before we go on, if your software does NOT offer family registration, not only do you need to hightail it away from that software, but you also really need to read this post so you can learn just how awesome this functionality is and what is can do for you. If you already have this feature, make sure it’s operating to it’s fullest potential! Not sure what this means? Let me explain.
What is family registration?
Family registration means allowing the user, most likely the parent, to register all of their children easily, by entering information like parent, address, emergency contacts, etc only one time for all children. It also means the ability to pay the balance for all of their children in one place, easily. This usually works like this:
- The parent fills out one set of forms that aren’t specific to each child, the family information if you will.
- The parent answers questions pertaining to each child individually so that each child registration is unqiue.
- The parent selects the right session to the child.
- The parent can put the child on an camp auto billing option so that they can pay the application fee and the rest will be taken care of.
- The system asks them if they want to add another camper.
- Finally the parent can pay for all children at once or select which they want to pay for (since they might know that one of them is coming to the camp for sure while another is still in question)
The purpose of family registration is to make the process quicker, simpler and easier to understand for the parent. The goal of any registration process, family or not, is to make sure you aren’t asking the same thing twice, and allow the user to go through the process in a unique way, and in a way that is streamlined and easy to follow for them (so you don’t have a bunch of confused parents calling you trying to figure out your process!)
My software already offers family registration. Is there really “more” family registration can offer beyond registering multiple kids at once?
I get this question all the time and I am always happy to answer it since there is a lot more to family registration than just registering multiple children. Like I mentioned before, most camp management software offers family registration, but does the family registration include other abilities? Here is a list of 7 things that a family registration system should allow and also why it is important:
1. Family registration allows families to enter family information individually and child information individually.
This just makes sure that the “general family information” is entered only once. The result is a major cut down on annoyance. Think how annoying it is to fill out the home address 3 times, or the phone number or anything that is family based information for that matter. I do not think I need to say it but I will anyway: less annoyance = more registering families.
2. Family registration automatically creates the first child in the process after the family registration is complete.
Parents are busy people, they just want to flow through the process. Once they complete the family registration, it is pretty obvious that they now want to enter the first child so just make sure the system does it for them otherwise you will get one of the following:
- Family registrations with NO campers (which is basically worthless) since the parents think they completed the process
- Parents calling you to ask how to add the campers.
- Worst case: parents leaving your process and going elsewhere since they “really need to finish this today!”
3. Family registration allows the parent to enter unique information for each child (like medical information and session selection).
Kids are different from one another and have different needs. Especially in the same family. Very rarely will two kids of the same family go to the same session (they will not be the same age in general, for starters). There is specific information that is child specific so make sure that you are asking that information for for each child.
4. Family registration allows payment for each child individually.
A family is a complicated entity. Sometimes you know that one child will be going to a specific camp for sure, whereas another is not so certain. For this reason you need to allow parents to pay for each child individually so they can pay for the one they know is coming for sure and hold off on the one that is on the fence. Also, different aged kids might be in different schools with different start times, which means that the sessions and dates each child will attend will differ. You need to allow for these nuances, while making payment easy and seamless (we’ll discuss this more below).
5. Family registration allows payment plans and installment plans individually for each child or for the whole family.
This is key to a seamless and easy process. Even if there are many differences between children, easily setting up a payment plan or a one click “pay your balance now” option makes it easy and straightforward for parents, which translates to on time payments and paid in full balances for every account.
6. Family registration can ask if they want to create another camper at the end of the each camper process.
This will net you more registered campers and will make the parents a lot happier since they do not need to think about how to create a new camper or what the next step in the process is.
7. Family registration allows bulk family actions, so the parent can go in and update multiple children at once if needed.
Sometimes it is better to allow bulk actions, such as session selection and payments but at the same time have these options specific for each child. For example, you might want to allow the parents to first create all the children they want to add to the camp and only after that they will go through the process of selecting the sessions for them. The session selection part might be best if it allows you to go through each camper and add sessions and then just submit for all of them. The same for payments. Allow parents to pay in multiple ways, schedule multiple payment plans and have control over their individual children or their family as a whole.
As you guessed, using family registration to it’s fullest potential is centered a lot around payments. If your camp software doesn’t include an integrated payment system I GUESS you can ignore what I’m about to say, but then go and read this about why you should integrate payments into your process. And then come back here and continue on!
Using family registration to the max means that you can allow parents to use the same (or different!) payment methods for each child. It also allows the parent to pay individually so maybe today they want to pay for John’s camp and next week they want to pay for Jane’s session.
When you are talking about payment plans, allowing the parent to set up different payment plans for each child will help not only increase your payment flexibility (which parents love) but without compromising your bottom line and getting paid on time. Camp can be expensive, so allowing for payment plans is awesome and kind of essential. With family registration, allowing a parent to decide how and when they will pay for camp is a great feature! Each kid might have a different total cost, so the flexibility to set up different payments depending on their kids and the number of sessions they are attending, is a great option to offer that parents will appreciate!
Conclusion: Family registration is really about letting parents register quickly and intelligently!
The beauty of family registration is it saves time for parents with multiple children attending. However, just because the family information and credit card numbers are the same, doesn’t mean that each child is the same and that parents don’t want to do different things with each child’s registration.
Parents will appreciate not having to enter the same information twice (or 3 or 4 or 5 times, depending on the number of kids they have!) but they will also appreciate being given the ability to control the parts that are individual to each of their children. Parents don’t want to be locked in to the same registration settings for each of their children necessarily. Maybe they do, and that’s great. But if they want to set up different payment structures or whatever the case may be, your software should adapt to these needs and allow the registration process to work how your parents want to work!