Are you inadvertently preventing families from registering for your camp?
By Peggy Chang
If you’ve been running summer day camps for a few years, you’ve seen the pattern: First come the early birds who snap up discounts and register well in advance, then there’s a steady stream in the middle, and finally a flurry of last-minute registrations. We’ve already talked about the value of the early registrations, but late summer camp registrations play a big role in filling up your camp, too.
Just how much of your annual revenue comes from these last-minute shoppers? We looked at data across hundreds of day camps from summer 2015 and found that 19% of registrations happened less than two weeks before the camp start date.
Last minute summer camp registrations (Source: ActivityHero data from 2015 summer season)
In other words, in the two weeks before a session starts, most camps had double or triple the number of registrations. Camp directors love these late registrations because full sessions can be more fun for campers and counselors. Plus, these late registrations are often more profitable because they have no early bird discounts and the camp’s fixed expenses have already been covered.
But not all camps get this many last-minute registrations. We wondered why. Could they be inadvertently sending the wrong signals to last-minute shoppers? We spoke to many parents about what makes them choose a specific camp at the last minute as well as to a few camp directors to understand the key factors.
To get the most last-minute camp registrations, consider the following:
1. Make sure that your website has up-to-date information on session availability.
Families need to know what sessions still have room, and they don’t always have time to send email or call to check on availability. If your website doesn’t provide this information, or doesn’t look like it’s updated regularly, parents may leave for another website that has updated information, such as the local Parks & Recreation.
ActivityHero’s schedule list shows real-time availability and can be added to your website with one line of code.
2. Offer mobile-friendly online registration.
Many last-minute parents will register for camp from their smartphone. If they can’t register for your camp this way, they may move on to a competitor. (If you don’t have mobile-friendly online registration, check out the SuperHero camp management tools offered by ActivityHero.)
3. Keep registration open as long as possible.
We get it — it’s stressful waiting for those last few registrations to roll in. We’ve heard some camps say that they have a registration deadline because they need a few days to prepare for camp. But if you can keep the registration open the weekend before camps starts — or even until Monday morning of the first day — you may be pleasantly surprised at how many new campers sign up. Jon Welte, VP of Education at Hiller Aviation Museum, offers this advice, “We get ready for camp by making group assignments, printing sign-in sheets and name badges a few days before camp starts. We also plan for a few registrations to come in the weekend before or even the same day by leaving a space or two in each group and having blank name tags available to hand-write names on. This also helps us to accommodate Monday morning group changes more easily in case there are friends who forgot to ask to be grouped together. The next day, we’ll have a printed name tag for the camper.”
Jon’s experience of getting registrations over the weekend is not uncommon. Over 18% of online registrations are created on Saturday or Sunday, and another 18% of registrations happen on Mondays, according to ActivityHero data. If you close registration the Friday before camp starts, you’re missing out on the three of the biggest summer camp registrations days.
4. Stay on top of your emails and voicemails.
In the last days before camp starts, you should aim to respond to email and voicemail inquiries within a few hours. Sometimes parents have one detailed question before they click the “register” button, and if you don’t respond quickly they may move on to another camp.
5. List your camps on ActivityHero.
Most ActivityHero families register for multiple summer camps — and they like to keep all their summer plans in one place. While they may already have one or two weeks booked, many are still shopping to fill those empty weeks. When you advertise on ActivityHero, you make it easy for these families to add your sessions to their cart.
May and June are the biggest months for summer camp website traffic and registrations on ActivityHero, so don’t wait any longer. Want more tips? Schedule a free, 10-minute consultation with the ActivityHero team by calling (800) 437-6125.