Guest post by Joseph Oriente, CommunityPass.
Joseph Oriente is the President and Founder of Capturepoint, creator of CommunityPass software. Joe established Capturepoint in 1999 and launched CommunityPass in 2003, which was initially created to provide online registration and payment for a local town sports council that was overwhelmed with an increasing number of paper registrations. Since then Joe has been responsible for expanding CommunityPass nationally to become one of America’s most well respected and complete online management solutions with registration, membership and facilities software serving the recreation and school markets.
As we enter the next decade of this millennium, more experiences and how we manage them are focused in the digital space. With online college courses leading to official degrees and social media platforms inspiring genuine community-building, it’s getting harder to create compelling parks and recreation programs that convince people to actually go outside and engage.
It’s easy to resent the online world for captivating your community members. However, digital solutions and management tools can impact your parks and recreation programs for the better, whether it’s a tool to manage medical data or a tool to optimize your email marketing.
Instead of turning away from these solutions, consider how you can use recent trends and tech solutions to your advantage.
Don’t worry if you don’t know where to start. Read our guide and take a look at your own recreation management solution. Learn about the following 2020 trends and how they can inform your upcoming programs:
- Data security.
- Generational programs and events.
- Increased environmental awareness.
- Optimized outreach and communication efforts.
It’s always great planning a program that attendees are genuinely excited about. Now, all you have to do is learn how to use digital solutions to attract those attendees. Let’s get started!
1. Remember to protect your data.
Most organizations now host their management processes online and depend on software solutions to store data and perform necessary actions. This provides a convenient solution for data management, program planning, and keeping your entire staff on the same page.
However, it’s also a huge risk to depend too much on your management software.
According to Security Magazine, cybersecurity is a larger concern the more we depend on digital solutions. The more devices you have connected to your system, the easier it is to be susceptible to data breaches and hacks. Even popular platforms like Facebook are beginning to be looked down on for not protecting their user data.
When you work in parks and recreation programming, it’s extremely important that you are conscientious with how you manage your community members’ data. From personal information, like names and home addresses, to financial details and preferences, data security and accessibility is a necessity.
To ensure that you’re taking the essential steps to protect your community’s data, consider:
- Implementing Firewalls. Protect your parks and management programming from malware and viruses with extra security!
- Turning on auto-updates so you always have the most updated software. This way, your management tools are working in the best condition with the most current system.
- Requiring two-step authentication for a password from your staff. If you host program registration online, make sure your members protect their passwords, too. To learn more about two-factor authentication, read this article.
A good practice when optimizing your data management is to ensure all your tools work together and that your data is streamlined into one place. Keeping your program attendee data in different systems can lead to unfortunate situations.
For instance, if there’s ever a medical emergency, your staff might not find the necessary information in time or the information they do have access to may be incorrect.
Consider investing in a comprehensive recreation management system that hosts all your management tools rather than depending on multiple tools. Instead of going through a lengthy integration process, one dedicated recreation management platform ensures all your data is centralized and all the processes seamlessly work together. This gets rid of manual data transfer and the risk of human error!
2. Plan generational programs and events.
As you’re thinking about the activities you want to offer, focus on creating and marketing your programs by generation. Though it might make sense to create programs and market activities that attract the most people, parks and recreation professionals from The Learning Resources Network say you should tune into the specific needs of different generations.
Typical parks and recreation programs tend to target Generation Alpha kids and other youth, but millennials and older Gen Z-ers can benefit as well— there just aren’t as many options for them. Programs that promote multi-generations have also risen in popularity, such as activities for grandparents and grandchildren and other family events.
Don’t simply brainstorm spring break programs or afterschool programs and fall into the trap of solely focusing on youth. It’s not uncommon that your past programs entirely appealed to younger children, so if you don’t have an established base of older-appealing activities, it can be hard to know where to start.
According to this Doubleknot Article, a successful strategy to reach a particular audience is to segment your community members. Segment your audience to only the age group you’re targeting. Learn more about them by sending a survey asking them for their opinions or referring to your database and watching out for commonalities.
Modern recreation management tools should be able to segment your community effectively, as well as centralize all your data in one place. Take a look at specific member data and take note of any patterns or similarities.
For instance, you might notice that many teen Gen Z’s are attracted to fundraising events, whether it’s to boost their college applications or because they are more philanthropically inclined. Consider hosting charitable programs and events as well as researching lists of unique fundraising ideas, if that sounds like your audience.
3. Become more environmentally conscious.
It’s not new information that we should prioritize the environment more and more. Based on this World Economic Forum report, digital transformation has the potential to reduce emissions and even promote economic growth.
Depending on the type of parks and recreation programs you host, there are a variety of software tools that you can leverage to improve your management, increase attendance, and support sustainability.
For instance, the San Francisco Recreation & Park Department had trouble keeping track of their program attendees’ data and standardizing their forms. After implementing a data management tool, the department is now able to improve data accuracy, increase security, and cut down on physical papers.
How else can your parks and recreation management processes migrate to a more tech solution? Consider these environmentally-friendly tips:
- Implement ID Cards with scanning features. Equip your program members with ID cards that can track when attendees check-in/out of your various activities. This also gives you real-time visitor tracking data.
- Keep track of attendance digitally. If your parks and recreation organization hosts before and after school programs, it’s a good and safe idea to keep attendance electronically. Don’t waste paper jotting down names! With the right tools, you can authorize pick-ups with signatures and photos from a tablet and even have real-time access to emergency contact info.
- Keep in contact with your program attendees and community members with email and text messaging. Ensure you have unlimited outbound email and text capabilities! We are long past the days of communicating with physical brochures and snail-mail. Reach your attendees fast and save the environment with email and text messages.
- Encourage online registration and host a navigable program catalogue. Don’t force your community members to call your office or wait in line to sign up for a program. Ensure they can easily register online as well as access an online catalogue of upcoming programs and activities!
With all your information and data accessible in an online digital format, your community members will definitely appreciate the environmental effort. However, don’t forget the first trend we learned about, and ensure you implement effective data security measures.
4. Optimize your communication efforts.
When you manage multiple programs and activities, it always requires effective marketing and communication. If you’re brainstorming better ways to reach your target audience, a good tactic is to personalize your communications, whether it’s simply including the recipient’s name or other more in-depth details.
According to a study done by Smarter HQ, 72% of consumers say they will only engage with personalized messaging. No one likes getting their email flooded with irrelevant content and it gives your programming a reputation for being annoying.
This means getting rid of email templates that start with “To whom this may concern” and ensuring that you’re only sending relevant content to your audience.
Most parks and recreation professionals know that a capable marketing and communications tool is necessary for a comprehensive software solution. With the right parks and recreation management software, you can easily optimize your communications by:
- Sending targeted emails and texts. Using your management tools, segment your audiences based on what you’re trying to market. For instance, filter for recipients in a specific program so that they’re the only ones getting communications about it.
- Personalizing content by including each attendee’s name. Make sure you accurately capture program attendee information during the online registration process. This way, you can use that data in your marketing content.
- Sending specific updates and announcements. With your communications tool, you should be able to send mass emails and texts so that everyone gets the necessary information. If the announcement is only relevant to a specific audience, segment your recipients first.
- Drafting your emails and texts in advance. If you know you want to announce a new program on a specific day during a specific time, make sure you can schedule your messages. You then have ample time to plan your message content to ensure that it is personalized.
The way modern consumers view brands and organizations is often based on how they engage with them. If your parks and recreation program is known to send irrelevant emails and spam its attendees daily, not many people will want to continue this relationship. Make sure to optimize your messages by incorporating personal details and segmenting your audiences for targeted content.
Trends may seem temporary, but they have lasting consequences. Keep in mind the top trends that might affect how you manage your parks and recreation programs. With the right tools and management software, you can use those trends to your advantage. Good luck!
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