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How to Retain More Municipal Recreation Memberships

Written by Jennifer Elliott

Boost revenue with these membership retention techniques
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Twelve tips for using modern marketing to engage your citizens and bring them into your parks and facilities.

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Your parks and recreation department offers valuable facilities and activities to your citizenry. From open swim to pickleball, to Zumba to paddle boarding, your community has it all. Getting citizens to sign up for annual memberships to your facilities and parks should be a critical step in your revenue generation strategy—but you also need to focus on retention and renewals. Our five tips will help you showcase everything your community has to offer year-round so you can strengthen your bottom line and help keep your citizens active and fit.

  1. 1. Make it a Team Strategy. Your parks and recreation membership retention strategy starts with your leadership, but every member of your team must enforce it. From your tennis instructors to your park attendants, every member of your team—year-round and seasonal—need to be committed to helping you retain memberships. It all starts with customer service.

Impress upon your staff the importance of every interaction they have with citizens being a positive one. Require that they participate in customer service training so that they feel confident providing proactive service, information, and news. It may just be a nudge from the staff member who checks them in at the community pool that encourages a family to take advantage of a membership discount promotion, setting them and you up for another year of mutual membership success.

  1. 2. Offer Enticing Packages. Make it easy for citizens to get the best financial deal by signing up for longer-term commitments. Such packages reward their loyalty and benefit your long-term retention goals. In addition to individual class, camp, and seasonal memberships, bundle options together, such as an annual “Pool and Park” package that allows citizens to take advantage of indoor options in the winter, and outdoor facilities in the winter.

 It’s critical to incentivize longer-term options with deeper price breaks to reinforce the member benefits. If you can get six months of facility use for $50, or 12 months of use for $75, the bigger package is the better deal. Plus, after a year of enjoying year-round access to local facilities, your citizens will be more likely to renew annually.

  1. 3. Tie Memberships to Citizen Goals. Offer special packages for citizens with long-term fitness goals. For example, encourage citizens who are signing up for your community’s annual New Year’s Resolution Run to also purchase—at a discount—an annual membership to your fitness center so they can spend the months leading up to January 1 training for the big race in a structured environment.
  3. 4. Send Personalized Renewal Email Reminders. Your citizens may allow their memberships to lapse because they haven’t used your local facilities in a few weeks and didn’t realize their membership was about to lapse. Use your parks and recreation management software database to proactively reach out to citizens whose memberships are set to renew the following month and offer them a discount to renew early. They will be more likely to take advantage of the discount to maintain their access to local resources.

Bonus Tips: Click here for more parks and recreation marketing best practices

  1. 5. Reward Loyalty. Incentivize citizens to maintain their memberships by showing them how much you appreciate their commitment to your community. Incentives can take many forms, depending on your budget, from free t-shirts to early registration for the newest classes, to free admission to your local town fete. People love feeling like they are valued, and a small reward may be enough to keep them engaged and motivate a membership renewal for another year.

Annual memberships should be a critical component of your revenue generation strategy. With some creative marketing, pricing, and incentivizing, you can create the types of rewards and offers that will keep your citizens in your parks and facilities year-round. Pickleball game on.