Choosing the best registration software for camps can be an involved task. What are the options and features available for your camp? How much does software for camps cost? The first question you should be asking before tackling the ones just mentioned, is do I need an online software solution for my camp registration?
Yes, you do! I’ve talked about the reasons for doing registration online before. The three most important reasons to move your camp registration online are:
- Your registration process will available 24-7, so parents can register anytime.
- A smart online camp registration software will get you more completed applications. It will also cut down on your admin costs or allow you to spend more time on other things.
- You will get paid faster (if you accept payments online) that will help your cash flow.
Now that I’ve (hopefully) convinced you that you need online camp software, below is a 3 step guide on choosing an online camp registration software that is right for you.
Step 1: Evaluate your current process.
If you aren’t online and have been thinking about moving your paper process to an online software for camps, there’s no better time than the present! If you aren’t fully convinced, then ask yourself:
- Does my current registration process create problems for me, parents, and campers?
- Do I spend a lot of time on calls and emails from parents confused or frustrated with the registration process for my camp?
- Are payments and important forms and documents late coming in? Do I spend too much time getting all of this stuff turned in?
- What about my current process is not working? It’s important to understand what isn’t working so you can find a software that will meet these specific needs.
Step 2: Make a list of what features you really need from a software for camps.
The first thing you can do when figuring out which features in an online camp registration software are right for you, is map out your current process and figure out what is and isn’t working. This will make it easier for you to sift through the different software for camps available and narrow your choices. The general goal when moving from paper to online is to automate tasks you were previously doing manually. For example, instead of taking someone’s paper form and inputting the information into your database, parents will fill out the form online which will automatically be added to your database. To be more specific, if you currently take in every payment and manually add those payments to each camper’s account, you should seek out a software that automates payments and offers an integrated payment system as well.
Step 3: Compare popular software for camps on the market and pick one!
Finding online camp registration software options isn’t hard! Google is your friend! Do a google search for “online camp registration software” or “software for camps” or “camp management software”. Open 10 websites to start and browse. Usually software companies have a feature page or a quick intro YouTube video so you can get a feel for what the software does and what features they offer. Use the list of features you need and compare to what each company offers. You will cross out a few just by doing this and narrow the field. Once you have a few that look promising reach out to them. Most software for camps offer a demo of some kind, so you can go through the system with a sales rep and see how it looks and ask specific questions on how the software can solve YOUR camp’s issues and deal with the ins and outs of how you operate. Once you have at least 2 options, compare the cost and go with your gut!
Another pro tip to finding a great software is taking a look at what other camps are using! If you see the same name come up again and again or if you can access the system a little bit through another camp and you like what you see, you can look into that software company, check out their prices and features and do a demo if you think it will work for your camp too. Since most camps don’t compete directly with one another, especially if you are in California and you are reaching out to a camp in New York, most camp directors are happy to share what they are using, what they like about it, or other systems they’ve used and liked, or hated!
The major things to consider when looking at camp software are:
- Does the software company work with camps and know your business?
- Customer service level
- The ability to keep your camp front and center (systems that can embed to your website for example).
- Ease of use for you, the admin and your users, and the systems’ ability to expand.
- The ability to stick to the process you want and not force you to do the process they can do. We wrote a post about how the software industry offers systems that work according to your process and it’s an important point to understand when you are looking at out of the box software for camps.
When on your hunt for software, remember that sometimes the most expensive or the cheapest option is the best, but other times a camp software might be offering tons of features that sound nice but that aren’t relevant for your camp or aren’t worth the extra cost for you.
This is where truly understanding the needs of your camp is so important. It will help you filter out what software is right for you.
My biggest piece of advice when searching for software for camps…
Find an online camp registration software that offers as much customization as possible for an affordable price, or a price that you can afford. Software for camps today has the ability to mold and bend to the needs of it’s users. This ability, in my opinion, shouldn’t (and doesn’t!) come at a premium! A software company that offers a product that can be tailored to your specific needs and also works within your camp’s model seamlessly is the sweet spot!