You’ve learned a lot since you began managing camps and now you’re better able to evaluate the processes, systems and technology your camp needs to be successful. Camps have evolved and camp technology has too.
We’ve assembled a list of eight signs that mean your current approach has outlived its usefulness.
1. Your online registration form is a downloadable PDF on your website
Because your form is “online” doesn’t mean you offer online registration… Families expect 24/7 convenience to complete the camp registration process at their leisure – from selecting camp dates, to choosing a transport option, to indicating dietary restrictions, to adding extra activities, all the way to requesting bunk buddies and buying camp merchandise. Look for a system that can handle all that, plus more.
2. Your camp management software is snubbing your registration system
Look for seamless integration of your online registration data with your camp management software. As soon as a camper is registered via your online form, the data should automatically update your centralized database to reflect the new registration and to record the payment in real-time.
3. You and your staff spend an inordinate amount of time chasing payments
Lost checks. Late checks. No checks. Sounds familiar? Put a stop to the insanity and look for an online camp management solution that processes payments securely in real-time and allows parents to choose to be automatically billed any remaining balance on its due date. You’ll be amazed at how your delinquent accounts receivables disappear, how much your camp parents prefer these options, and how little time it takes from your staff.
4. You don’t have the ability to easily issue and accept coupons
Want to run a short promotion to fill the last remaining bunks? Interested in trying out a group buying program like Groupon or Living Social? Look for a software solution that lets you create coupon codes on the fly and automate processing when they’re redeemed. And with adequate reporting tools built in, you’ll have the ability to know exactly how many coupons were issued, used and by whom.
5. Families complain that your online registration could be better
Let’s face it, even if you already have an online registration solution, if families aren’t thrilled about using it, it’s bad news. Search for camp software that offers a great user experience because it’s well integrated with your website and has all the functionality that parents crave, like the ability to register multiple kids in different camps at once, to securely make online payments and to manage accounts.
6. You’re packing your data while kids are packing for camp
If you’re still working with camp management software that resides on your in-house server or computer, you might have developed the interesting habit of “packing” your computer and your data back and forth between your headquarters and your camp, so you and your staff can access camp information. Look for a software solution that’s “hosted” or “cloud-based” so that you can access your camp data at anytime, from any computer.
7. You can’t automate targeted email marketing directly from your database
Look for an online registration solution that offers built-in email tools to create and schedule professional emails, including reminders and birthday wishes, as well as one that offers filtering tools to easily segment your database and send targeted messages by age group, programs, participation levels, etc. Some camp software also includes mass texting tools, a nice-to-have option for sending out timely reminders or notifications.
8. Your system has never heard of peer-to-peer marketing or social media
Peer-to-Peer marketing is cheap and extremely effective. Make sure your camp management solution allows families to “Invite a Friend” during the registration process. The tool should automatically send a personalized email to the invitee notifying him or her that the inviter has registered for your programs and inviting them to join in on the fun. The invite should include a direct link to your online registration form. Also look for integrated social media functionality in your software. It should give families the ability to post “I just registered little Johnny to Camp X” messages on their Facebook page right from your registration form, further expanding your reach to their community.
Does your camp exhibit any of the above 8 signs? You might have learned to accept the status quo because of time or budget constraints… or just because. Like most camp directors, you probably know that continuing to work with dated or flawed systems prolongs inefficiencies and handicaps your ability to succeed.