Kids of all ages long for summer camp all year long. To them, it is a magical place where they reunite with friends, participate in their favorite activities, explore the outdoors, and get away from home for a bit. The kids at your camp are not thinking about revenue, camp management, or the day-to-day running of your camp. But that is likely all you can think about.
As the owner or operator of a summer camp, you have a lot on your plate. You want to be able to facilitate an amazing camp for your campers but the stress of still needing to make a profit can loom pretty large.
To increase revenue, and make your camp experience better, you need your program to become as efficient and effective as possible. This may entail a variety of minor changes to your marketing technique, but the best thing you can do for yourself is to equip yourself with the right tools, tips, and tricks to ensure your camp goes off without a hitch—and generates more revenue!
As you review ways to revamp your camp, consider the following tips:
- Invest in camp management software.
- Ask for feedback and respond to it.
- Maintain a relationship with your local community.
- Advertise your camp.
Don’t let the stress of improving your revenue swallow you whole! If you follow these 4 tips, you will be meeting your profit goals in no time. So, let’s dive in!
1. Invest in camp management software.
If you are reading this, then you are looking for ways to increase ROI on your summer camp. You may be asking yourself: why would I spend money on camp management software?
The answer is simple: your camp is an investment. If you want to run your camp more efficiently, you need to be equipped with software tools to help you do so. There is a limit to how much you can accomplish in a day, but with the right software platform, you can take a lot of every day, but still crucial, details off your plate.
With many of your administrative duties carried out by a software platform, you will invariably be able to focus on some of your larger-scale duties.
But if have never used camp management software, or if you’re currently working in a disjointed system of tools that weren’t built for camp professionals, how can you know what to look for?
To see a comprehensive list of features to look for, check out CircuiTree’s list of must-have camp database software features.
But, some tools that will definitely be useful to you are:
- Customized registration. Your software should come equipped with customizable registration forms that you can alter so that you can be sure to get all of the information you need (i.e. emergency contact information, health and allergy notifications, activity preferences, etc.) and filter the results for ease of navigation.
- Roommate and housing assignments. You shouldn’t have to worry about making sure every camper is housed where they want when your software can easily manage that for you. Your software should sort campers based on age, gender, and any other priorities you designate.
- Self-scheduled camper assignments. Let campers (or their parents) organize their own schedules before the start of camp. With this tool, the campers can look forward to their favorite activities and you can know which activities are popular, without manually inputting data or checking spreadsheets.
- Camper tracking. If your campers are traveling, make sure you can have real-time updates on tracking information. This will ensure you, and the parents, know where your campers are at all times.
- Integrated point of sale. You should be able to take any type of payment online, to make registering for your camp as easy as possible for the parents of your campers. Don’t forget to make sure you can track and manage your inventory easily online to ensure any merchandise you offer can be shipped and tracked effectively.
- Donor management. If your camp is supported in part by donors, make sure you have all of your information in a centralized location. You should be able to accept online donations of any type and store your donor data for future reference.
- Prospect campers. This tool lets you capture more leads on prospective campers by following tracking site visitors and information requests so that you can see where people are in their sale and what your next step should be to encourage their registration completion.
Investing in camp management software is the most important thing you can do for yourself (and your camp). The rest of the tips in this list would all be enhanced by the use of the right software platform. So, keep this in mind as you consider the rest of this list.
2. Ask for feedback and respond to it.
With the help of the right software platform, sending and receiving summer camp evaluation forms could be the easiest part of your day.
Remember, you shouldn’t only encourage your campers to submit evaluation surveys, but the staffers and parents as well. Their opinion is just as important when you think about the larger-scale effectiveness of your camp’s operations.
When you are planning your survey questions consider the following topics:
You should focus on their time at camp, asking them about:
- Their favorite and least favorite activities.
- The food.
- Roommate and staff interactions.
- Housing arrangements.
These surveys will not need to discuss the monetary aspects of the camp, as you will be asking age-appropriate questions. But, parents listen to kids when they talk about how much they love camp. You want your campers to be happy with their camp experience so that they keep coming back and registering year after year.
In this survey, you should ask about their experience before, during, and after the camp session, asking them about:
- The interview and training process.
- Co-worker and employer interactions.
- Compensation and benefits.
These surveys will enable you to smooth out the hiring process and figure out what works and what does not for your staff’s training and camp experience so that you can make the necessary changes to improve efficiency.
These evaluations will focus on the parents’ interaction with your management software as well as the camp itself, asking them about:
- The registration and payment process.
- Their favorite part of the camp (e.g. being able to send personalized e-cards to their children, purchasing care packages for their child, etc.).
- How comfortable they are with their children attending your camp.
These evaluations are critical to your camp’s revenue stream. If a parent finds the registration process to be too much of a hassle or if they do not trust your camp, they will not send their child to you.
It is incredibly important that you take these responses seriously and make the necessary changes to your program. This will show your campers and their families that you value their input and their camp experience.
Camper and parent satisfaction are the two most important areas you can improve to boost your revenue. When kids love attending your camp, and parents love sending their kids to your camp, registration—and your revenue—will boom!
3. Maintain a relationship with your community.
There seems to be an ever increasing number of summer camps competing for a limited number of campers. This makes it essential to maintain a relationship with your campers and community throughout the year to remind them that your summer camp is approaching.
Engaging with your local community will increase awareness of your summer camp and encourage interest. When you are considering your target in your local community, you should keep in mind who attends your camps: school-aged children.
It may be useful to specifically interact with school activities and events. Your camp can attend school fairs advertising community programs, or sponsor a local community event that offers a program for a similar audience.
Consider attending and sponsoring events like:
- School fun run.
- Local 5k.
- Elementary school field day.
- Community sports team games.
- Schools’ extracurricular competitions (e.g., cheerleading, chorus, band, quiz bowl).
You can even consider attending your local PTA fundraising meeting to discuss opportunities to work together and support your camp. To brush up on PTA fundraising ideas, click here.
Children who participate in extracurricular or community events will likely be looking for something new and exciting to occupy their time in the summer. Make yourself available to answer questions or provide information. This will increase your exposure and ultimately the number of people who come to your camp.
4. Advertise your camp.
Word of mouth alone is not enough to dramatically boost your summer camp registration and revenue. You need to be intentional with the efforts you put into raising awareness of your summer camp.
Your most effective and efficient assets to advertise your camp will likely be:
- Email marketing. Design a persuasive email marketing campaign to reach more people in a meaningful way. Include active language to encourage your prospective campers to act fast. You may consider adding incentives to early or online registration (such as a free t-shirt or water bottle) to spur more people into action.
- Social media marketing. Most people surf social media multiple times a day, especially young people who may want to attend your camp, so mobile marketing is more important than ever. Don’t underestimate the value of social media engagement. You can even create a camp hashtag and encourage a hashtag battle between your camp sessions to see who can post the most about your camp, raising your camp’s chance of exposure.
If your camp wants to increase its revenue, it must increase community awareness of your camp. Luckily, your audience is young and likely eager to help enable you to host most events and invite more friends to camp. Peer-to-peer fundraising might be a useful technique for your campers to use through their own social media platforms.
To read more about how to organize a peer-to-peer fundraiser that would increase your revenue and awareness of your camp, check out Donately’s guide to peer-to-peer fundraising best practices.
Your summer camp should be fun for your campers, and for you. So, invest in a quality summer camp software and get to work improving camper satisfaction and camp awareness!
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