If you’re looking for a way to diversify revenue sources for your parks and recreation department, look no further than memberships and passes. They allow visitors to use your facilities regularly, enabling you to secure funds and create stability for your organization. Plus, they help you build community engagement and relationships.

However, if you’re new to the idea of park memberships, you may have a few questions. Key among them is: how do you ensure that your visitors have a positive experience with your memberships and passes?

To answer this question, we’ll cover three best practices for managing your recreation department’s memberships. That way, you’ll be able to confidently implement these offerings to maximize revenue and community engagement.

1. Make registration and renewal easy.

Imagine you’re interested in signing up for a membership at your local gym. When you call the gym to ask about it, staff members inform you that you’ll need to drive over and fill out a form. Once you complete the forms, they let you know that you’ll need to pay for your first month—but they don’t accept your credit card. How would you feel?

Registration is a key part of engaging your community. It’s so important that certain organizations will purchase tools specifically to streamline the process. For example, educational institutions will invest in school registration software.

To acquire new members and retain current ones, make registration and renewal simple, fast, and convenient. A few ways to improve your recreation department’s registration and renewal process include:

  • Offering online registration. Prospective members will be able to fill out all the necessary forms and make payments online from anywhere.
  • Streamlining registration steps. No one enjoys filling out a form with ambiguous questions or confusing instructions. Make sure that your registration steps are clearly outlined to prevent frustration and increase registrations.
  • Communicating clearly via email. Send emails to individuals who stopped in the middle of registration reminding them to complete the process.
  • Adding an auto-renewal option. To save members the hassle of visiting your facilities or website every month, give them the option to auto-renew their membership.

To further streamline the registration process, be sure that your website is easily navigable. Revamping your website with these priorities in mind makes it more convenient for community members to find your registration form. If your website needs an overhaul, Morweb advises that you seek out a website builder and platform that makes it simple for staff members.

2. Entice potential members with a variety of benefits.

It’s not enough for recreation departments to simply make visitors aware of memberships and passes—you have to convince them to make a purchase. And you’ll need more than persuasive calls to action to do that. The main way you can appeal to visitors is by offering them a variety of benefits with your memberships.

Common membership benefits that recreation departments offer include:

  • Exclusive access to facilities. While all visitors can expect access to some of your facilities, you can reserve specific courts or special rooms for members.
  • Free parking. To keep members happy and increase the perceived value of the membership, waive their parking fees. You can even create a designated “member parking” section of your parking lot.
  • Priority registration. When you have a new event or program, offer members priority registration to guarantee their spot for popular activities.
  • Event and program discounts. Offer members a discount on any signup fees for events or programs.
  • Exclusive member-only events. For particularly sought-after activities, consider creating member-only events to entice visitors to purchase a membership.
  • Equipment rental. Allow members priority for equipment rental, or access to nicer equipment.

Be sure to highlight these benefits when marketing your memberships and include links to relevant website content so visitors can do their own research.

Let’s say that it’s the end of the year, and you’re receiving facility rental requests for holiday parties. You could send a text message to those who expressed interest in renting a facility saying, “Thanks for your rental request! Did you know members get discounts on facility rental rates? Learn more on our website.”

3. Offer different types of passes.

Not every visitor will be interested in or able to commit to a membership. For example, a first-time visitor might want to try out the facilities before purchasing a membership. Another visitor could be moving away soon and simply want to participate in a few events before leaving.

In these situations, visitors will be more interested in short-term or specialized passes rather than memberships. Recreation departments that offer different types of passes attract more customers of different types. And, if pass-holders have a positive experience with your recreation organization’s activities and events, they may be inclined to purchase a membership in the future.

Common types of passes include:

  • Day
  • Multi-Visit
  • Seasonal
  • Guest

We recommend investing in parks and recreation software that makes managing passes and memberships easy. According to CommunityPass, the right solution will allow you to offer many different types of membership packages and passes. You’ll be able to set different pricing tiers for individuals, families, residents, and non-residents. Plus, it will offer membership auto-renewal and expiration reminders to reduce your staff’s workload. These features make it convenient for you to keep your members engaged with community programs and offer them ways to stay involved.

With a robust park membership and passes offering, your parks and recreation department will be well on its way to securing more sustainable revenue for the future. You can then re-invest this revenue into creating a more valuable experience for all visitors and community members, such as upgrading your equipment, hosting more creative events and programs, and renovating old facilities.