With thousands of miles of parks and trails, dozens of seasonal events, sports leagues for citizens of all ages, and classes that range from candle-making to pickleball, you need every tool and resource at your disposal to help you communicate with your staff and expedite the citizen engagement process. New advances in technology are making it easier than ever for busy parks and rec leaders to manage their recreation facilities. Read on to learn about the tech tools that are changing the game of citizen engagement and administrative efficiency.
The Tech Tools You Need to Manage Your Facility
The latest tools helping rec departments to manage their facilities can be bucketed into four main categories:
- Recreation Management Software – Recreation management software is the closest thing there is to a single-source solution. While no one product can claim to do everything that an organization needs, recreation management software will provide well-rounded capabilities that serve most of the needs within the organization. Products in this space will typically have modules for each of the core activities within an organization, such as program registration, facility management, point-of-sale, and accounting. For most municipalities, recreation management software will provide all the capabilities they will ever need.
- Dedicated Module Tools – While recreation management software covers most of the core needs of an organization, staff may also find that they need enhanced capabilities in specific areas. For example, maybe the golf module within their recreation management software lacks some of the capabilities their pro shop needs. There are golf-specific tools that can nicely fill this gap.
- Niche Tools for Recreation – There are several niche products in the recreation space that serve specific organizational needs. They are not comprehensive like a recreation management software, and they don’t enhance core modules like some of the dedicated tools mentioned above. However, they serve essential functions and nicely complement other products. Examples may include background check services, emergency contact management, and field light management. While these functions are not always core to recreation management software, such niche tools can be leveraged to serve essential roles in the organization, and some even allow integrations directly from the recreation management software.
- Non-Recreation Tools – Finally, there are tools that, while not directly created for the recreation space, should be leveraged by recreation professionals. Such solutions include social media platforms, citizen survey tools, and email marketing or mass notification solutions. There are also tools for resource scheduling, project management, and workflow management. While these tools are not explicitly designed for the recreation industry, they offer valuable citizen engagement capabilities and should be in every organization’s toolbox.
Functionality that Simplifies Operations
By using a combination of the technology mentioned above, there is nothing that a recreation professional can’t get done. When the right tools are in place, administrators can automate or even crowd-source once tedious tasks. Those weekly finance reports that used to require manual preparation can now be scheduled for automatic delivery.
Citizens can self-serve a variety of their needs and perform many of the capabilities that were previously open only to staff, such as viewing and printing past receipts. Essentially, having the right tools in place frees up time for recreation professionals to focus on high-value offerings like enhanced programming, park maintenance and development, environmental initiatives, community outreach, special populations, and more.
With CivicRec, we are fortunate to work with municipalities of all sizes. We work with communities ranging from under 10,000 in population to major metropolitan departments and districts that serve millions of citizens. This experience gives us a valuable perspective on the benefits that solutions like ours provide. The savviest of these groups will use a combination of the tools listed above to cover virtually all their workflow needs.
For example, a high-volume aquatic center may use its recreation management software for program registrations, facility rentals, point-of-sale, memberships, and day passes. They may have an expedited entry line at the front of the center to scan memberships, passes, and tickets. By having patrons purchase passes in advance, not only does it improve entry flow, but it also reduces cash handling by department staff.
Beyond the capabilities offered by the recreation management software, the organization might also use a dedicated timeclock tool to manage the scheduling of their lifeguards. A background check service may be used to verify any personnel who will be working with children. And, finally, they will leverage tools like Instagram and Facebook to market their upcoming classes and events.
The benefits of leveraging technology within the recreation organization are immense. Technology reduces busy work and allows staff to focus on high value and rewarding work. It also enables citizens to self-serve and gets the user experience they have come to expect, including instant feedback, informative and timely communications, and mobile access. Remember that your technology is a billboard for your recreation department. What does yours say about you?
Click below to take a commitment-free, self-guided tour of our CivicRec recreation management software.