How many times have your instructors assured you that plenty of kids were verbally committed to attend an upcoming camp, only to have those assurances slowly disappear as the camp registration date closes in?
If your sports facility is anything like mine, it happens a lot. It’s natural for instructors to feel optimistic about the prospects for an upcoming camp, especially when the kids or parents they’ve talked to seem enthusiastic. However, verbal commitments cannot be trusted. Why? They require zero real investment.
Informal commitments can fail to turn into paid attendance for three reasons.
- Clients don’t actually intend to come to the camp, even though they say they do. Maybe they like the idea of making you happy, or part of them thinks they should attend the camp, but some clients will say they’re committed when they’re really not.
- Clients do intend to come to the camp, but are not actually available. High school aged kids, in particular, can fool you. They’re old enough to seem like they can give you a great idea of whether they’ll be there. But no matter how much they want to come, their parents are usually the ones paying the bills and double checking the calendar.
- Clients are available and willing to come to the camp, but don’t follow through with enrollment. These are the clients who intend to come, but they forget to enroll or submit the required paperwork by the deadline, or put off the enrollment until something else bumps your camp off their schedules.
First of all, you should never reserve spots for players until they’ve paid. Allowing enrollment without payment causes big problems, which is why the sports facility management software my company produces always defaults to requiring upfront payment. But you also need to take active steps to make sure that you reach your minimum enrollment goal weeks before the camp, and then make a continuous effort to make sure all the spots are filled in order to maximize revenue.
To fill your camps and fill them early, create a sense of urgency in your marketing. You can create a sense of urgency in a two different ways.
Create time limits and incentives for early registration. Creating a significant discount for early registration will help you ensure that you meet your minimum attendance requirements in plenty of time for the camp. That way, even if you do have to cancel it due to low enrollment, you can do so in plenty of time for your enrolled clients to adjust their plans. For my own sports facility’s most recent youth baseball clinic, any athlete that registers more than three weeks before the camp gets $25 off.
Emphasize limited space and enrollment. If your camp is semi-private or has fewer than 10 spots, emphasize the size limit from the beginning of your marketing efforts. Then, as spots begin to fill, notify your clients of the dwindling space available. I usually wait until a week before the event to remind my clients that their time is running out. Then, just a few days before the event, I check the attendance numbers. If there are fewer than five spots remaining, I send out another email and social media update with the headline “Just X Spots Left.” In some cases, these last-minute reminders have generated so much demand that we were able to create a second session of the camp just to accommodate it!
These deadlines and incentives won’t make a difference if you don’t have a reliable way to get your message in front of your clients and prospects regularly, whether that’s through email marketing, social media, or traditional signage in your facility (I’d recommend using all three). Remember that it takes 6-8 customer touch points to typically convert a new sale.
If you want to talk about sports facility marketing, call me at (513) 791-4940 or send me an email.