Running a successful summer camp today isn’t as straightforward and easy as it was way back when. There are a lot of options out there for parents to choose from for summer activities and you need to get high tech in order to get business. A camp director was quoted in this NY Times piece about the business of camp and said, “Well-managed camps should prosper: “If they are running well, they will survive and thrive.”
Sounds nice, but how can you maximize registration, increase enrollment and manage your camp “well”? Below are some summer camp software features you probably need in your camp software!
Have a great website!
Your camp’s registration process is like your storefront! This is the first impression parents have of your camp. You want the experience navigating it to be easy and pleasant, just like your registration process! It’s all about the ease of use and experience in order to keep them ON your site, registering, and ultimately paying. A little known fact is that you have about 3-6 seconds once someone lands on your website to KEEP them there or not. That’s it, just a few seconds, to engage the visitor and keep them clicking. You have a small window to convince a parent your camp is the right one for their child.
What should you do to grab them in a few seconds?
- Have some great images! The brain processes pictures a lot faster so you get more bang for your buck.
- Great copy! Have an engaging headline and some good text to grab their attention!
- I wrote a blog about how understanding that it is not all about you when it comes to business and how this can make anymore more successful. Follow this principle when designing your website.
If your website doesn’t give thorough information and isn’t pretty to look at or easy to navigate, people will leave!
Use social media for marketing!
Don’t be afraid of social media! You need to get the word out and you need to use social media to market your camp!
Your social media profiles are a great vehicle to:
- Tell your camp’s story.
- Connect with your camp community.
- Connect with parents both during and after camp.
Create a great user experience and invest in a quality summer camp software.
The worst way to have someone register for camp is sending them or having them pick up a paper form, filling it out by hand and emailing, faxing or mailing it back to you. Please don’t do this! It may “work” but I promise it’s costing you money and you will net more completed applications AND more money by picking an affordable camp registration software! If you know you need an online software, but you pick one that is SO hard to use and has parents running away screaming, or calling you every 5 seconds with questions or issues, you might as well have a paper process. OR you can just make sure to find a summer camp software that offers a great user experience and everyone wins!
I think we offer a pretty great great camp registration software, and you can check out a great summer camp software comparison here. You can also take a look at some of these posts about camp software (here, here, and here) which highlight the benefits of camp software. The main features you should care about are:
- Stats and marketing tools.
- Ability to pay online, automated payment plans, etc.
- Automated email tools.
- Great reporting tools.
Early Registration and Discounts
This feature is HUGE when looking at summer camp software. Early registration is a great marketing tactic and your camp software should support it!
After registering 2.9 million people in 2015 for our summer camp clients, camps that offer early registration and discounts have more campers registered and more programs filled. Camps that have a wait list option also fill up quicker, the benefits of which you can read about here.
The goal of your marketing is to get families to register ASAP. A lot of parents will register early whether there’s a discount or not just to ensure their child has a spot, but if parents are on the fence or just not in a hurry, offering a discount can really help close the deal and commit earlier. Personally, I’ve registered a month in advance for my kid’s summer camp just to get the 5% discount. It doesn’t save me that much, but the thought of paying more when I can easily pay less NOW has me running to grab my credit card!
Whatever your early registration, incentives, camp referral program and discount plan is – your camp software should make it EASY to implement!
Another benefit to early registration is bringing money in earlier and spreading out your cash flow, which can help you get on tasks earlier and make the camp season less stressful!
Why you need summer camp software!
I have gone over 5 really amazing ways to increase camper registration and enrollment at your camp for the 2016 season! Essential to any business is a great storefront, a great website and a seamless and intuitive registration process. Business is all about customer service, so presenting a great first impression and creating a process that is easy to use will equal happy families, and fully paid ones too! Take the advice quoted up at the top: if you are running your camp well, you WILL survive and thrive. Don’t be scared by the tech behind a great website and social media plan. It’s simple to use once you get the hang of it and is vital to your camp’s marketing plan.
That plus a great camp management software will allow you to streamline and automate much of the headache work that is admin paperwork, and allow you to really focus on the things that matter: connecting with your community, showcasing your camp and planning an awesome summer!