Recreation Management Software: A Complete Go-To Guide
How many hours a month does your staff spend manually dealing with tedious, recurring administrative tasks related to processing program registrations, memberships, and facility rentals? Making sure your community programs run smoothly doesn’t need to be overwhelming. With the right tools, you can easily streamline your operations and facilitate more programs without overextending your staff.
Recreation management software is the solution you have been looking for. If you are unfamiliar with recreation software, don’t worry. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know to successfully incorporate this software into your operations by answering the following questions:
- What is recreation management software?
- What can recreation software do?
- What features should I look for in rec software?
- Who benefits from recreation management software?
Rec software can revolutionize your perspective on managing a parks and recreation department. Let’s dive in and see how!
1. What is recreation management software?
In order to effectively utilize recreation management software in your department, you must understand what it is and what functions it can serve.
Recreation management software is a comprehensive, easy-to-use solution designed to centralize the management of your demanding day-to-day operations. Activity-specific management features can cater to all of your recreation needs.
When allowed to reach its full potential in your department, there is truly no limit to the good that dedicated software can do for your operations. Many organizations in your community can benefit from being connected to this platform, including:
- Local parks and rec departments.
- Sports leagues.
- Community pools.
- Community facilities and centers.
Rec management software will enable these organizations to engage more meaningfully with your community as they offer:
- Youth sports teams.
- Swimming lessons.
- Senior citizen services.
- Cultural and enrichment programs.
- Fitness classes.
- Pool and center memberships.
- Facility rentals.
- Tickets to community events.
Your community deserves the opportunity to participate in these programs (and more!) but without parks and rec management software, it can be very challenging. Let’s take a further look at what recreation software can do to help you maximize your offerings in your community.
2. What can recreation software do?
While your parks and recreation department wants to offer a myriad of programs and host various events, so much more goes into this process than one might expect. The expansive nature of your offerings, therefore, necessitates a software platform with extensive capabilities. Recreation software has a wide range of functions that can be used to strengthen your parks and recreation department and its presence in your community, including enabling your department to:
- Facilitate online registration. Forget the days of sitting at a desk with a long line of registrants in front of you waiting their turn to submit their forms. Online registration means every member of your community has the opportunity to register for the same programs and activities from the comfort of their own homes and their own devices.
- Process payments digitally. Save time and reduce your trips to the bank. Digital payment processing allows individuals to complete their entire transaction without having to worry about mailing in a check or dropping off cash. Just make sure your software is PCI compliant so you can securely accept all digital tenders!
- Manage your community sports league. Forming teams, building rosters, managing player information, and communicating between coaches, players, and parents has never been easier. With specially designed league management tools, rec software can streamline the entire operation and lift the weight off of the league manager’s shoulders.
- Sell and manage memberships and passes. Guarantee the safety and efficiency of all of your community programs and activities with memberships and passes. Going digital can save your staff tons of time by eliminating the need to manually manage complex membership and billing options. Sell memberships and passes online, easily create ID cards, implement new scanning tools, and find member info immediately as needed.
- Manage your facilities and centers. The days of juggling schedules, rentals, and facility reservations are over. Rec software can easily allow staff to view current facility availabilities, adjust reservations, and prevent double-bookings through a master calendar.
- Organize program and participant information. With community members registering online, your staff can set eligibility requirements, manage waitlists, and integrate customized online forms with the registration. This cuts down on paperwork and ensures you collect all of the important registrant information in a centralized location.
- Issue comprehensive reports. To make informed decisions about the future of your department, you need to analyze comprehensive reports that demonstrate the state of your department and its programs. These reports should help you track financial data and understand how your department is functioning.
- Market your programs. Rec software can help your organization communicate within its network to promote new or upcoming programs. You should be able to email marketing messages to community members based on their program eligibility and preferences to help increase enrollment for all of your programs.
- Manage an efficient point-of-sale system. You’ll be able to sell any type of merchandise and accept cash, credit cards, and checks for on-site sales, such as concession stands at your community pool or rec center. You can even ensure compliance and assurance by regularly reconciling your processed sales.
With recreation management software, you can limit the amount of resources you spend on managing the day-to-day operations of your parks and recreation department by incorporating a software platform into your department to handle these tasks.
3. What features should I look for in rec software?
It may seem obvious by now that rec software definitely has its place at your parks and recreation department—after all, how can you overlook all of its advanced capabilities? However, what may not be obvious is which software platform you should adopt. There are plenty of software platforms on the market. However, not all recreation management software platforms are created equal.
When searching for a rec software to consider, look for software with tools for all the following essentials:
While plenty of members of your community want to participate in the programs and events your departments support, not many members want to take the time to come to your office and submit their registration in person. Online registration bypasses all of these frustrations and introduces a number of benefits.
Community members can browse an online catalog of programs, classes, and activities, decide which appeals to them, and complete their registration all from their homes. Residents of your community can easily sort through the offered programs and view those for which they are eligible.
Online registration doesn’t necessarily mean limited payment processing capabilities. The best software platforms will have an integrated payment processing solution to ensure your registrants can complete their registration, start to finish, online. You will be able to accept credit cards, checks and eChecks, or cash.
Don’t forget to make sure your online registration tool also allows registrants to sign up to be a volunteer, make a donation, as well as purchase merchandise and tickets for local events.
When you offer so many different programs and memberships through your parks and rec department, it stands to reason that members of your community will want to engage in your offerings in varied capacities. It is important to have a well-built membership management program that allows for varying membership levels and pass categories.
Make sure you find a platform that offers a variety of passes and membership plans, such as:
- Limited, fixed-duration memberships.
- Rolling or recurring memberships.
- Seasonal, day, guest, and free passes.
- Individual and family packages.
These different membership types will ensure that all community members are able to engage in your programs on their terms.
Your staff should be able to set eligibility requirements for all membership packages and passes based on age, residency, etc. When community members are able to purchase memberships that work for them and receive identification badges, they will be able to easily and conveniently become involved in your programs.
Plus, going digital streamlines the member experience in other ways, too. Auto billpay for recurring payments, badge scanning for entrance to facilities, auto-renewals, and expiration reminders all work to improve the member experience.
Facility reservations and rentals.
Every parks and recreation department has inevitably faced a scheduling nightmare or accidentally double-booked a facility. But an online reservation manager allows your staff to make informed decisions based on a centralized master calendar, ensuring even last-minute changes go smoothly. Staff will be able to view facility availability and book and adjust reservations, all in one centralized system.
With this tool, your organization will be able to get the most out of its facilities and even promote their facilities online. So many municipal facilities go unused when some programs would really benefit from them. This feature allows you to create a vibrant, exciting webpage for each facility, highlighting its benefits and specifications, while conveying its availability.
As long as you have the right software tool, you will be able to see any and all up-to-date schedules and rental information. Meanwhile, the public can surf through your listings, request the time and date they need, and even pay online once their request has been approved, effectively streamlining the entire rental process for both your staff and the community.
As with any of your other management tasks, using a centralized, streamlined system is always the smartest move. The same is true of your marketing software! Make sure your communication tools allow you to:
- Segment your recipient list. Segment your list of recipients by program, grade, age, etc., so that you only send messages to the individuals who meet your criteria. This will cut down on unnecessary messaging and make individuals more receptive to the messages you do send them.
- Personalize your message. Insert personal or family names to customize your messages to each recipient.
- Send alerts and reminders. Quickly send cancellation alerts and reminders to every relevant member of your database via email and text.
- Schedule messages. Send messages to your registrants without remaining tied to your device until the time comes to send the message.
- Promote your programs. Identify individuals who have participated in your programs in the past and use the segmentation tool to target them when you promote your upcoming programs and events that you think they would be interested in and eligible for.
- Making the most of texts. Integrated mobile messaging features can be invaluable for sharing updates simultaneously with your emails. A pool being closed to a thunderstorm or a last-minute location change for a class are typical examples. Text messages will dramatically increase the likelihood that important, time-sensitive messages are received in time.
All effective operations rely on the ability to effectively communicate to the right people when it matters most and with these tools, you’ll be able to do just that.
If you want to increase efficiency and decrease costs at your department, then you need to make financial reporting a priority. Your department should be able to receive accurate, detailed reports in a single click that can help inform all of your decisions.
These tools must enable your organization to:
- Track daily deposits and transfers.
- Reconcile collections with registration records.
Make sure you can easily download these reports to Excel so you can easily send and communicate results to individuals without access to your database.
If you want to check out a software platform that encompasses all of these essentials plus a whole lot more, check out CommunityPass.
CommunityPass is a well-respected and comprehensive cloud-based recreation software that can help streamline your parks and rec department’s operations. It can provide your community members with easier access to recreation programs, events, and memberships.
4. Who benefits from recreation management software?
Recreation software truly has an enormous impact on how your department runs. However, if you are still curious about the concrete benefits of recreation management software, the answer must be approached in two ways:
How does it help parks and recreation center staff?
First and foremost, your department cannot underestimate the value of housing all of your important information in a centralized database. Every member of your staff will have easy access to accurate, easy-to-use and updatable data from any location. This means even your remote or traveling members of your staff can access the information they need with ease.
Your administrative staff will also see plenty of benefits with:
- Reduced amount of paperwork.
- Limited number of phone calls and lines at the registration office.
- Reduced administrative costs (printing, paper, etc.).
Your staff will be freed up to focus on delivering amazing programs to the community.
However, the benefits don’t end there. Your team will also have an easier time promoting your events and activities because the registration and participation process is so efficient and easily accessible to all interested parties.
Don’t forget the best benefit: you can gain more insights into your community. Based on engagement levels in your programs, you will be able to make informed decisions for the future of your department.
How does it help the community?
Community members will love the fact that they can register for events online with ease. All members of your community have equal access to community events, programs, and activities. People can get excited about the opportunities available to them and fill their schedules with your programs, all from the convenience of their own device anytime, anywhere. People sign up more often and for more activities when the process is so simple.
When operations are streamlined, your parks and rec department will be able to offer more programs to more people, ensuring that all members of your community will be able to find an activity that appeals to them.
It is also important to note that when managing personal, confidential information in a digital database, registrants will be able to rest assured that their information is much more secure than if your department were still juggling stacks of paper and binders.
Consider adopting recreation management software to ensure your parks and recreation department is reaching its full potential. With an effective software platform in place, you will be able to streamline all of your operations, benefiting your staff and your community alike.
Additional resources for recreation management software
- #1 Recreation Registration Software | Build Stronger Ties. Interested in learning about more software features you should keep an eye out for? Check out this resource!
- Top 3 Ways To Keep Your Sports League Members Involved. Visit this resource and find out how rec software can help you keep your sports league members involved and organized.
- Top 3 Questions to Ask when Purchasing Recreation Software. Still unsure of rec management software? Check out this resource to find more answers!