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Are you looking for ways to make your holiday camps successful? More profitable and more enjoyable?

Whether you’re a holiday camp beginner or have done hundreds before, there are always to make them even better – for you and your attendees. 

We recently held a webinar with former British and International champion gymnast, Katie Cannon from Gold Medal Business.

With over 20 years of experience in the children’s activity space, Katie knows a thing or two about what makes a successful holiday camp. 

From football camps to tennis, dance and art camps, the principles are the same. In this blog, we’ll outline Katie’s key points as she shares what works in today’s world.

Why should you run holiday camps?

Holiday camps and workshops can be a great way of injecting some additional revenue into your organisation. With options like half-term camps, summer workshops, and intensive courses, there’s a suitable camp for every organisation.

Also, they don’t just help to keep income flowing, but they also help you to retain customers / members by keeping them interested and engaged. 

They are also in huge demand from parents who are looking for ways to keep their children busy. It’s essentially a win-win for everyone – the children included. 

Top tips for running a successful holiday camp

Holiday camps can be an excellent way to maintain revenue and engagement during school holidays. 

In this blog, we’ll discuss the key points Katie highlighted to help you operate a successful holiday camp. These are:

  • Identify a need
  • Benefits of running holiday camps
  • How to set up your camp
  • How to theme your camp
  • How to market your camp and run a successful campaign

Identify a need

Katie’s entrepreneurial journey teaches us one thing – staying flexible and creative is the key to running a successful business. When the teacher strikes left parents in the lurch, she comes up with a clever solution – a one-day camp. 

This not only provided relief to parents scrambling for childcare but also added a new source of income for her business. 

The secret? Stay connected with your community, understand their needs, and be ready to offer solutions. That’s the recipe for a successful business.

The benefits of running a holiday camp

They’re an added revenue stream

Think of your monthly or termly enrollments as your financial foundation, the bread and butter of your business. But once you’re having consistently full classes and a clear marketing strategy it’s time to diversify and add to your offering. 

If you have just started out, then we recommend waiting until your classes are full and you have buy-in from your customers and community. It’s worth waiting until you’ve got a loyal customer base and have worked out what’s working well before branching out too quickly. After all, you don’t want to end up with a holiday camp with no attendees.

A successful camp will need energy, planning, a decent marketing budget and the reputation of successful classes during term time. If that’s not yet in place, there’s no rush. Give yourself till next year and plan to perfection.

If you’re in the position to start planning your holiday camp, then great. They’re a great way to boost your revenue and even give you the opportunity to get new people to try out your organisation and your offerings. You can use this as a way to convert them into fully-fledged customers!

They’re the perfect solution to unused space

If you’re the proud owner of a facility like a gym or dance studio, then you’re likely familiar with periods of quiet when your space isn’t being utilised to its full potential. That’s where holiday camps come in.

Not only do these camps breathe life into your otherwise empty venue, but they also help cover operational costs. 

Imagine your venue buzzing with energy even during off-peak times. It’s a great way to maximise your venue’s potential while providing a valuable service to your community. 

Discover a fresh customer base

Katie says that holiday camps, “. . . can establish a whole new, different market for you in terms of clientele, bringing in different locations and bringing in different age groups as well.”

She also suggests that you could potentially convert 20 to 30 percent of your camp attendees into regular customers. 

Thinking of spreading your wings to other locations? Holiday camps are a great way to gauge interest in those areas. Plus, you’ll gain valuable insights into the types of classes they’d prefer. So, not only do holiday camps offer a chance for expansion, but they also serve as a useful market research tool.

They’re a great opportunity to try new things

Say you run a dance studio and have been considering teaching a new dance style or genre. Why not give it a shot at your holiday camp? If the kids love it, you’ve found something new you can offer. 

Plus, you can get feedback from them on things you can improve or anything else they might like you to offer.

Katie also recommends that when creating a new syllabus, . . . “Do not, whatever you do, sit developing it for weeks. Get it in front of people. You think you know what people want, but you don’t.” 

So, use holiday camps as a way to get creative and test out ideas before investing in them too heavily.

Increase your revenue from existing clients

Katie points out that when promoting your holiday camps, your existing clients should be your first port of call. 

Katie says, “Whenever you’re advertising your holiday camps, the natural place to start is always your existing clients, it’s a great way to increase revenue by sometimes up to 30 percent.” Marketing to them is easy since you already have their contact details and more importantly a positive relationship.

Plus, holiday camps present a golden opportunity for your current members to bring along their friends for a taste of what you offer. Since it’s not a long-term commitment, it’s an easy, no-pressure way for newcomers to experience your services. So, not only do you get to serve your existing customers better, but you could also win over some new ones.

Offer year-round employment to your team

The benefits of holiday camps extend beyond just your own financial gain. Many of your team members would appreciate the opportunity for a steady income throughout the year. 

Plus, offering consistent work is an effective way to retain your talented staff, especially in an industry known for high turnover rates. 

How to make a sustainable holiday camp business model

In order to prevent burnout and financial failure, you have to find strategies to make running your business as easy and streamlined as possible. 

That requires planning and looking at the bigger picture. 

Here are some ways Katie suggests this can be done:

Build and nurture your team

When you find talented individuals, make every effort to keep them by your side. Listen to their concerns, support them as much as possible, and give them financial stability by giving them work throughout the year.

Promote monthly payments over termly fees

Katie recommends avoiding having a huge influx of cash at the beginning of every term as it makes it hard to budget and plan financially. By encouraging your customers to switch to monthly payments, you can ensure a steady flow of income that’ll help you avoid revenue dips throughout the year. 

Carry out an annual business check-up

At the end of each year, gather your data and take a hard look at what did and didn’t work. Katie recommends asking yourself the following questions: 

  • What times did you run the camp?
  • Did you offer a theme?
  • What discounts did you offer? 
  • What price were you operating at?
  • What numbers did you have on a day-to-day basis?
  • Did people like one-day camps? 
  • Did a lot of people register for the three-day camp?
  • How many came in the whole week?

By digging deep into these stats, you can identify which strategies to carry forward into the next year and which ones to drop. 

Get feedback from your customers

It’s always a smart move to survey your customers to understand exactly what they expect or would want from a holiday camp. Are they seeking childcare solutions for working hours, or simply a fun-filled activity club to keep their children active and engaged during the summer break? 

However, remember that if you decide to offer all-day clubs, it falls under childcare, which would require involvement from Ofsted and a lot of additional admin.

Katie advises, “If you have a majority of full-time working parents, offering a camp from twelve till three won’t work as childcare for them.” You want to differentiate between who’s wanting childcare and who’s wanting a camp because they’re two different things.”

If you have an equal mix of working and not working parents, then consider offering half-days or extended-day options so that everyone is catered for. Also, try to gather as much information about their holiday plans so you can plan around real schedules.

We recommend asking them questions such as:

  • What activities does your child enjoy?
  • Are you planning a summer holiday?
  • How long will you be away?
  • What type of camp would you consider?
  • Would you book a full-day camp?
  • Are you interested in booking for five consecutive days, or do you prefer one-day, half-day, or three-day camp options?
  • What would you expect to pay for a five-day camp?

With this detailed feedback, you’ll have a clearer picture of your customer’s preferences, increasing your chances of filling all the spots in your camp. But remember, this is just feedback. You’re obliged to cater to every demand, instead, it gives you a better idea of what will be most appealing to your audience.

Market smart, not hard

Katie recommends kicking off your campaign about six to eight weeks before the camps begin. She advises, “Tailor your ads to cater to different age groups.” After all, what appeals to a four-year-old and a fourteen-year-old can vary drastically, so make sure you create age-specific campaigns.

She suggests that your current database should receive emails once or twice a week, ideally on Mondays and Thursdays. Your campaign should include around ten to twelve emails, highlighting the advantages of your camp. What benefits can their child gain from joining your holiday camp? Also, don’t forget to add some testimonials for added credibility. 

Also, consider sharing these testimonials and special offers on your social media platforms to attract more attention. If you have a slightly larger marketing budget, then Katie also recommends using Facebook ads as they allow you to target a very specific audience, ensuring they reach your ideal demographic.

Use an effective member management system like LoveAdmin

Katie believes, “A good system is a game-changer. It brings you time and freedom, unlike doing everything manually. Sure, learning a new system can be a bit challenging at first, but once it’s up and running, you’ll see its benefits and how much time it saves.”

By streamlining enrolment, payment, and information access, you not only save your customers’ time but also eliminate potential frustrations. Plus, with a platform like LoveAdmin, managing your marketing efforts and database becomes a breeze.

Attract customers with exclusive offers and discounts

Early bird offers are a great way to offer value for money to your clients, whilst also offering you peace of mind that you’ll have kids at your camp. 

Katie suggests, “Consider having an early bird offer between the beginning of May to the end of June. Maybe something like 30 percent off when you book a five-day camp. Don’t offer discounts on the one and two-day options.”

Final words of advice from Katie

The secret behind Katie’s thriving business is her ability to learn from her mistakes. As she says in her own words, “It all boils down to planning. It’s all about planning effectively.”

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