by Samantha Overton, Director, Parks and Recreation, Conduent
Temperatures are soaring, the school year has ended, and summer vacation planning is in full swing. Families around the country are looking for summer activities outdoors. The National Park Service is embarking on its second century after celebrating its 100th anniversary last year, when their successful “Find Your Park” marketing campaign enhanced public awareness of park treasures across the country – and brought a record-breaking 331 million people to national parks in 2016. In the same time period, per the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD), over 791 million visitors opted for state parks, which NASPD’s website calls the “close-to home outdoor recreation resource.”
But what these visitors are looking for has changed. State Park Directors can no longer follow the mantra “unplug and connect to nature” — 79 percent of 18-44 year olds have smartphones with them 22 hours a day, says IDC Research. This demographic wants to digitally interact with agencies managing parks, and are often frustrated at the lack of technology park departments offer. Currently, many state park systems operate legacy systems that aren’t mobile friendly and lack data analytics capabilities and business intelligence tools. Parks technology needs an update.
Smart Parks Solutions from Conduent help parks systems meet park users demands and desires – encouraging them to visit your parks over and over again.
Our Smart Parks Solutions benefit both the park user and the park operations team. Customers are able to easily plan a trip from their tablet or smartphone wherever they might be. At the agency, operations staff can manage real-time reservations with the touch of a screen. Updated systems and data analytics, visitor tracking information and customer data can help state parks and recreation agencies gain insight into visitation numbers, patron demographics and areas for improvement. This helps departments better prepare for and manage peaks and valleys in attendance and provide top-notch services to park visitors.
In contrast to the challenges of increased attendance during peak season, parks and recreation departments also look for new ways to optimize occupancy and attract guests and meet visitation and revenue goals when attendance slows. To do this effectively and efficiently, old legacy systems need to be revamped. New, state-of-the-art recreation and reservation systems can help attract a new generation of visitors and also sustain the continuing support of the existing customer base by engaging with visitors via social media, soliciting patron feedback via personalized email and conducting targeted outreach to specific demographics or local business partnerships.
To properly manage the customer experience, build relationships with current patrons and reach new customers, parks and recreation departments should also consider:
- Marketing campaigns that attract new demographics or generations of park goers
- Incentive programs that encourage park attendance
- Collaborating with local businesses to offer a more personal park experience
- Implementing metrics systems like surveys to track visitors and their experiences
- Implementing analytic tools that can track all aspects of the parks’ business to identify gaps and determine where improvement is needed
For parks and recreation departments, great service centers on providing a positive guest experience before the trip even starts. Parks and recreation departments must keep their website up to date so prospective visitors have accurate information available when planning their trip. Additionally, for departments unable to invest in new systems, creating on-line reservation services and customer care centers can help manage the customer experience on the front end by making reservations an easy and enjoyable experience.
By improving the visitor experience from planning to packing up, Smart Parks Solutions help parks and recreation departments keep visitors coming back – all summer long.