Pacific Grove, CA Relies on CivicPlus® During Pandemic for Innovative Revenue Generation Opportunities
Responding to the COVID-19 Crisis
In 2020, Pacific Grove, like so many communities across the country, and especially in highly populated parts of California, faced massive disruptions during the COVID-19 crisis.
“It’s been a huge challenge in our County,” said Kyle Susic, Pacific Grove Recreation Manager. “Our City has been listed in the state’s most restricted tier since March.”
Not only has the City’s residents felt the impact of the pandemic, but so has City’s administration.
“We’ve always been a small department, but at one point, we had to furlough everyone in my department,” said Susic. “We’ve been able to bring some people back, but the staff reduction has taken a toll on us.”
To respond to the state’s mandate for citizens to socially distance and limit interactions with people outside their household, the City was forced to cancel all its summer activities and indoor programs, resulting in a detrimental impact on its revenue and citizen engagement goals.
Under Susic’s leadership, however, the Department found innovative ways to serve its community.
“We started to look at the role of recreation, how it ties to community services, and new ways that we can serve our community. This perspective opened up some doors for us and helped us to prioritize projects we may not have pursued in the past.”
The functionality and capabilities of Pacific Grove’s CivicRec software has been instrumental in the City’s shift while responding to the pandemic’s challenges.
Innovating Revenue Opportunities During the COVID-19 Crisis
While communities across the country struggled to launch and monetize engagement opportunities during the ongoing pandemic, Pacific Grove found a unique opportunity to leverage one of its best assets—the beauty of its coastline.
“Weddings are one of the biggest opportunities in our department,” said Susic. “We have some of the most beautiful vistas in the region. About 175 to 200 couples hold their weddings in our oceanside parks every year. During COVID-19, since couples couldn’t get married indoors, it increased the demand for access to our parks and the need for an easy-to-use, integrated facility reservation system.”
With [the CivicPlus Recreation Management system], Pacific Grove had everything it needed in place to coordinate wedding facility reservations online, from allowing couples to reserve a facility to issuing invoices, paying online, and returning deposits.
“[CivicPlus] gave us the confidence to manage the needs of our engaged couples. We’ve hosted 27 weddings since July and 11 in October alone. Our ability to facilitate this service means so much to so many people, and it kept our Department relevant.”
Other ways the Pacific Grove Recreation Department has innovated engagement opportunities during the pandemic include partnerships with schools to facilitate physical education classes and hosting seven different outdoor fitness classes, which supports the City’s small businesses. The Department also pivoted its youth library program’s strategy from a drop-in event to a sign-up initiative to ensure the Department is properly managing social distancing requirements and rosters for contract tracing documentation purposes.
“By keeping our children’s summer reading program open while maintaining COVID-19 requirements, we were able to continue offering and staffing a valuable community service,” said Susic.
Looking to the Future of Parks and Recreation
Susic believes that there are valuable learning and innovation opportunities as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.
“COVID-19 shut down a lot of recreation aspects, but it also opened opportunities for people to appreciate their parks and recreation opportunities and to realize that they can engage in some opportunities from home.”
Susic predicts that when we have eliminated the threat of COVID-19 from our communities, that residents will embrace the opportunity for in-person events.
“There is a strong sense in our community that people want to get back to a sense of normalcy,” said Susic. “We know that people want to get back to our facilities, and we plan to prioritize investments in our outdoor services. In many ways, these efforts will redefine what recreation means in our City. Part of that means showcasing to our community that we are about more than just childcare, summer camps, and swim lessons. We want to refocus on community service opportunities, and we believe that many people will be interested in supporting and investing in our recreation services.”
Without knowing what the future will bring, Susic says he feels confident that the City now has the systems and processes to be nimble and responsive. They are using that knowledge to support fellow departments.
“We have established new relationships with our library and museum to support their programming and point-of-sale purchase needs,” said Susic, who remains grateful to the CivicRec team and the system’s capabilities.
“[The CivicPlus Recreation Management system] saved some of our jobs and our department,” said Susic. “A lot of departments within our County essentially had to shut down, let their staff go, or focus all their attention on essential childcare and food distribution services. With [CivicPlus], and with some creative programming modifications, we have been able to continue providing recreational activities and services to our community.”
With strengthened peer relationships, a scalable, reliable solution as its foundation, and a partner it trusts, the City of Pacific Grove is well-prepared to continue innovating and reinvesting in its residents’ evolving needs.