Guide: Take Your Camps Online



Are You Investing In Your Marketing Budget Wisely?

As a camp administrator, you probably wear a multitude of hats from fearless leader and guidance counselor to savvy marketer. As your camp’s Chief Marketing Officer, ask yourself these 3 questions to determine if your camp is spending the budget wisely:

1. What do You think?

Not what do “you” think per se, but have you posed the question to your camp families? If your camp does not conduct a post-camp survey with your camp families and staff—the simple answer is YOU don’t know! A well-worded survey is a powerful tool to better understand what your camp families think—and more importantly—are likely to say to others about your programs, staff and facilities.

Additionally, a post-camp survey can help uncover areas of potential weakness, as well as identify areas for potential growth. Whether building on strengths or overcoming weakness, awareness is the first crucial step a camp can take before investing wisely to position their camp fo long-term success.

2. How did you learn about our camp?

Ok, so you ask your new camp families this question, but are you tracking the answers? Perhaps they are discovering your camp through your Web site, a camp directory, flyer, newspaper or through a referral from another camp family or staff member.

Successful camps are committed to asking and tracking the source of how families and campers are learning about their programs. In order to have the greatest impact, your camp must know the answer to decide where to invest next year.

Your camp management system should help you not only track prospects and send automated reminders, but it should help you identify and track referral sources to analyze your return on investment (ROI) for each marketing dollar spent.

3. Are we investing our marketing dollars in the right place?

Now we arrive at the all-important question at the heart of the matter. Remember, all marketing tactics employed by your camp should be assigned a cost value. This is the easiest, most straightforward way for you to quickly calculate your camp’s ROI for each marketing dollar spent. What many camp administrators ultimately discover, despite their years of experience, is that their camp is not allocating their marketing budget or staff resources in the areas that will yield the greatest results to grow and competitively position their camp programs for long-term growth.

Choosing a Camp Software partner

8 Key Features

When selecting a software partner for your camp, it’s important to consider your options carefully as the camp management software you choose will become a cornerstone to your camp’s operational efficiency. So what features should you look for to determine the ‘right’ software for your camp?

1. Online Camp Registration and Payment Options

The ability to provide parents and campers with the convenience of registering when and where they want, 24 hours a day, has become an expected convenience. Additionally, features like automated email confirmation receipts and auto‑bill reminders provide timely communications that your camp families will certainly appreciate. The ideal camp software offers simple editing tools for use by non-technical staff so you can easily create customizable Web registration forms that match the look and feel and your Web site.

2. Program Management

Easily manage program dates, capacities and locations; administer cabins, bunks, groups and activities; and add new programs quickly and easily to your custom online registration form. Your software solution should provide comprehensive program management, as well as custom reports, rosters, and statistics to streamline administration, and allow for seamless integration with online registration, forms, donations and payments.

3. Staff and Prospect Application Management

Easily manage staff and prospective information through a centralized database. Choose a camp software solution that allows prospective staff to apply online in a customizable application, tracks applicants and hiring statuses, schedules interview dates and times, and records interview notes and applicant history. Additionally, look for a system that recognizes when a new prospect registers and alerts staff to follow-up promptly.

4. Online Camper Accounts

Enhance customer service capabilities by enabling your camp families to securely process payments, view balances, and print statements and invoices online from the convenience of their home or office. Look for a camp management system that can readily accept credit cards, debit cards and electronic checks, as well as one that can apply discounts and coupon/promotion codes automatically without a lot of fuss.

5. Merchandise and Camp Store

Sell products and equipment during online registration and collect camp store deposits. To capitalize on additional revenue streams, look for a camp software system that accepts stand-alone sales, as well as sales during online registration. This will allow your camp to sell excess merchandise year-round. The software should also allow parents to put money toward a camp store account and record camp store purchase history, accessible through the online camper accounts.

6. Photo and Email Services

Value-added services like photos and emails connect parents and campers. Look for a software solution that allows your camp to easily upload photos to share with your campers and their family and friends. Next, look for an email service that streamlines the sending and receiving of letters between campers and their families without the need for additional staff resources.

7. Marketing Solutions

Increase registrations through targeted email offers, increased communications, effective online advertising, and participant rewards and incentives. Your camp software partner should be a marketing partner that will assist you in maximizing the success of your online registration to drive participation, retention and referrals.

8. Additional Bonus Features

Look for a camp software partner that does more than just registrations; look for a technology partner that can offer a wide variety of solutions to grow as your camp needs grow, from online donations and conference center registrations to custom Web site design and Web content management tools.

Ideally, you should select a comprehensive solution partner that streamlines all aspects of your administration, offers you the ability to view and analyze participant and revenue data, delivers real-time reports for efficient accounting, and increases camper sign-ups and retention through effective marketing and increased communication. When it comes to taking care of your campers and best serving their needs, don’t settle for anything less.

3 Ways the Right Software Can Grow Your Camp

1. A Dollar Saved Is A Dollar Earned

However, if you invest that same dollar and it yields a greater return—then you have spent your dollar wisely. A Web-based camp management solution will save on the costs associated with printing and mailing brochures, including design services, paper, ink, envelopes and postage. Your system should allow you to use built-in email tools to send electronic flyers and brochures to targeted audiences with personalized messages. Replacing traditional post-and-mail methods with a Web-based solution will ALWAYS yield a higher return. Bonus--no more late-night envelope stuffing parties.

“...we can now email a PDF file instead of relying on a paper form”

2. Time is Money—Stop Wasting It

The adage that your employees are your greatest resource cannot be overstated. Many camps continue to spend countless hours mailing registration packets and reminder cards, processing mail and faxed–in registration forms, and entering data into spreadsheets or other legacy systems.

Consider the hours your camp spends managing your current registration process. Consider the savings a Web-based camp registration and management solution can offer by allowing camp families to securely submit their registration and payment data real-time into a centralized database. Remember whether a dollar or an hour—invest your resources where they can yield the greatest return for your camp.

“Our promotions are done through targeted emails. It’s far less costly for an email to bounce back than for a stack of letters to be returned. Plus, our parents like knowing immediately if their children are in our camps.”

3. The Name of the Game—Convenience

Imagine you are a busy parent balancing your job, family, household and, oh yes, budget. You are comparing two camps offering similar activities, facilities, and overall cost. One camp offers online registration and credit card payments—the other does not. Which camp do you think this busy parent is likely to choose?

Successful camps understand the value a robust online registration and camp management system offers busy camp families, from the secure 24/7 online registration and automatic email registration confirmations to the auto-bill payment reminders and online family account access.

Online Marketing: Does Your Website Pass the Test?

Today, with easy access to the Internet, and the popularity of search tools like Google and online communities like Facebook, your camp prospects are likely “tuning in” to the Web to checkout your camp, your competitors and what others are saying about you online.

Your camp Web site is the one of the most powerful online tools for marketing your camp to families. If your camp Web site is not updated with relevant content, call to actions (CTAs), and engaging information about your camp programs, it may be costing you more than you know—future campers! Below are 5 best practices to ensure your camp’s Web site is geared to impress first time visitors, prospects and returning camp families:

1. Easy Navigation

Usability and overall organization of your site is paramount to creating a positive first impression, rather than one of frustration. Most importantly, make it easy for camp families to register online. Don’t force them to search your site or even to send an email or make a phone call. Highlight updated session dates, rates and descriptions, and prominently feature a Register Online or Register Now button to encourage action.

2. Relevant Content

Your site should offer content on your overall camp experience in addition to program costs and dates. Have a newsletter, photos or video? Post them online. If not, post notes submitted by happy campers and parents. To gather prospect details, add a “Request Brochure” button. This allows visitors to easily request additional information and provides your camp the ability to follow up with the prospective family in the future.

3. Kid-Friendly/Family-Focused

Given that youth are growing up with computers in the classroom and at home, they are likely viewing your camp Web site and ultimately influencing their family’s decision about your camp. Consider posting survey or poll questions, fun facts, and of course, videos of campers in action to entice and excite your most important visitors—your prospective campers!

4. Professional, Fun and Competent

Poor grammar, typos or lack of content and photos may portray your camp as amateurish or second-rate. Your Web site is your camp’s resume and the first step towards “getting the interview”. Make it count.

5. Welcoming and Engaging

Your Web site must be informative, and ideally, interactive. Take advantage of Web content management tools that allow you and your staff to easily post videos, photo galleries, surveys, message boards, calendars and contests that will engage new prospects, referrals and returning campers alike!

With the proliferation of the Internet, the importance of your camp Web site cannot be emphasized enough.

More than ever, camps administrators are beginning to recognize the advantages of using technology, along with marketing best practices, to create an engaging online presence to excite soon-to-be campers.

For More Information: Download the entire PDF here

Camp forms are perfect for managing all camp types from summer camp registration to sports camps, church camps, and more. Let ACTIVE Camps help you efficiently manage your campers.