The past year and a half has significantly impacted the operations of recreation management across the country. From social distancing to remote work to virtual programs, you have worked tirelessly to adapt to the needs of your community during this difficult time.
With this “new normal,” you not only learned the importance of flexibility, but also picked up some new ways to manage community programs and simplify day-to-day administrative tasks. Many of these strategies are even more efficient and effective than those in practice before the pandemic and are likely to stick around.
For example, because most people had to work remotely and stay at home, many recreation leaders digitized operations to streamline staff work. Other aspects of recreation management, such as volunteer programs, have also gone virtual, offering more convenience and flexibility.
Additionally, during a time when in-person programming was up in the air, more recreation leaders emphasized the value of maintaining transparency and active communication.
These positive changes should not vanish now that parks and recreation organizations are returning to normal operations. Investing in recreation management software, for instance, can help you keep up with an increasingly digital world and provide your community members with easy and convenient ways to engage with your programming.
This guide will walk through three of the most essential lessons of the pandemic and explain how they can help in 2022 and beyond. Let’s get started!
1. Digitize community engagement.
Before the pandemic, digitization was already becoming popular, but the demands of safety regulations only hastened the transition to digital interactions. Virtual events, remote work, contactless payments, and more became the norm, and it seems as though this transition is the new standard.
Not only are online registration, payments, and management processes more efficient and convenient, but they also save time. For example, rather than having to visit your facility to register for a program or pay a fee, your community members can complete these steps all online.
Digitizing your community members’ interactions with your programming encourages more people to engage with your organization. The barrier to entry is low — all it takes to register or engage is clicking on a link in an email or searching through a convenient online catalog. With an online recreation management solution, your community members can:
- Register and pay for programs, events, and memberships online contactlessly, anywhere at any time
- Complete online waiver forms and sign off on policies electronically
- Check-in quickly, easily, and touch-free with ID cards
- Browse an online searchable program catalog
- Receive updates about new programs, membership renewals, volunteer opportunities, and registration dates through an integrated email and text system
Ultimately, the pandemic has established a new standard of convenience. By digitizing many of your processes such as registration, payments, and communication, you signal to your community members that you value their time and want to make engagement as easy as possible.
2. Centralize your staff’s resources.
Because many of us pivoted to remote work, recreation management had to find a way to make all in-office resources accessible to their staff at home. SaaS-based software enables your staff to work anytime from anywhere, which can increase productivity and ensure everyone gets their work done.
Allowing your staff to easily access what they need is a lesson to take into 2022 and beyond. With this level of accessibility, your staff can quickly and easily communicate with participants, effectively manage their day-to-day tasks, and resolve potential issues. Plus, if you begin operating with a hybrid in-office and remote work model, you won’t have to worry about transitioning data whenever a staff member works from home in the future.
In addition to these benefits, recreation management software can provide quick access to necessary information. Just as community members benefit from the convenience of digitization, your staff members can, too. The right software can help staff:
- Create new classes with capacity limits, auto waitlist management, and age/gender/residency eligibility requirements.
- Access attendance and check-in information for accurate, real-time data.
- Allow instructors to communicate with participants easily with their very own instructor site.
- Provide immediate access to key participant information on tablets or other devices.
- Use reporting features to analyze attendance, registration, financial, or programming data and measure metrics over time.
- Automatically process payments online with an integrated payment processing solution.
Even if your staff members have begun working together in-person again, streamlining their processes can help programs and events run smoothly. Overall, SaaS-based tools that allow for remote management not only benefit you and your staff, but they also ensure that everyone has access to the same, real-time information.
3. Maintain active and transparent communication with community members & volunteers.
Due to the safety regulations of 2020-21, many parks and recreation leaders had to act quickly when it came to updating their communities on new events and pivoting their in-person activities to a virtual format. Spreading the word about these changes caused significant logistical challenges, especially for organizations that did not previously have experience with virtual programming.
Not only did spreading the word about upcoming programs become more difficult, but it was also challenging to continue engaging volunteers, maintain attendance levels, and forge connections with members of the community. To rise to these challenges, many recreation leaders drastically improved their communication strategy to stay in touch, and there’s no reason to do away with these changes as we return to normal operations.
Going forward, your community members will appreciate your continued effort to keep them informed. For instance, be sure to:
- Post updates: According to this CommunityPass guide to parks and recreation management, in addition to posting updates within your physical facilities (perhaps on a bulletin board or on your front door), you should also share them on your website. If your recreation management software platform has a message center, you can post updates there as well. This way, everyone is on the same page.
- Send messages: Using the integrated communication tool in your software, send emails and text alerts to community members and volunteers.
- Keep documentation updated: Update existing documentation to reflect new guidelines or procedures. You can use your recreation management software to have community members digitally accept new policies when they sign up for a program.
- Monitor relevant news: Stay up to date with current legislation or other important information that could impact your activities. With your communication tools, you can quickly share last minute changes.
Quick and accurate communication is necessary for your community program’s success, even when there isn’t a global pandemic going on. Implement a reliable and transparent system now to ensure that all future programming goes smoothly.
Your hard work in the past year and a half creating new processes can help you going forward. Taking the lessons you’ve learned into future programming can ensure your programming is more accessible, your staff is more productive, and your community is more informed.
With recreation management software, all of these changes will be easier to implement and you’ll have a reliable solution to future problems you might encounter.
This guest post is brought to us by CommunityPass