What booking features do parents use the most?

When you run a children’s activity business, you need to appeal to modern families. Parents these days are digital natives and they expect the experience of booking activities for their children to be as easy as booking movie tickets or buying clothes online.

Sawyer is the only class registration and management system built exclusively for children’s activity businesses. In 2023, Sawyer processed 8.9 million bookings for activities, camps, workshops, and more. 

Our goal is to help children’s activity providers run their business more smoothly and efficiently. In our 2023 Children’s Activity Business Trend Report, we analyzed these 8.9 million bookings to determine best practices for businesses in this ever changing landscape. In this article, we will outline our findings as they relate to how parents and caregivers book activities for their children as well as the booking features parents use most often. 

How do parents book activities for their families?

Knowing how parents prefer to book activities for their families can help you appeal to more customers and increase your enrollment numbers. Utilizing a class registration and management system that offers a delightful booking experience for parents makes all the difference.

Mobile booking is key

Of the 8.9 million activities booked on Sawyer in 2023, over 65% were booked on mobile devices. That data is clear: You need to offer a mobile-optimized booking experience in order to capture this business. Sawyer works seamlessly on mobile devices and provides a simple booking process for all.

Booking happens at any hour

42% of parents purchased activity bookings for their children outside of typical business hours (9am to 5pm). That means that businesses who rely on phone calls and emails for bookings, rather than using a class registration and management system like Sawyer, might miss out on these bookings.

Parents book in advance

It is important for children’s activity businesses to publish their activity listings early because parents like to do research and make their bookings with plenty of time to spare. Camps and semesters are typically booked 2+ months in advance and drop-ins are booked 1-2 months in advance. Tack on an extra month for research and be sure to publish your listings at least 3 months before the start date so you get those early birds!

What are parents looking for in booking software?

The right booking software works as well for you as for your customers. Providing a booking experience that is simple, intuitive, and mobile-friendly will help you increase your enrollment numbers.

Parents are looking for a booking software that is:

  • Made for them. Choosing booking software that is made for children’s activities, like Sawyer, means no workarounds or hacks. Parent and child information is automatically saved, making checkout easy.
  • Easy to use. The best booking software is one that looks and works great on all devices. With visually stunning schedules and booking just a couple clicks away, booking is simple and intuitive.
  • Flexible. When you can offer semesters, camps, drop-ins, free trials, and so much more, parents and their children can book activities that fit into their schedule. They can also choose to try before making a larger commitment.
  • Modern. With payment options like buy now, pay later (BPNL), class packs, memberships, gift cards, and more, you can appeal to modern parents who expect these choices.

What booking features do parents use the most?

Now that you have a sense of how parents prefer to book and what they look for in booking software, you can learn more about the specific booking features that they use the most. When you add these features to your activity listings, you increase the chances that parents will actually make the decision to book.

Photo of class registration and management system

Educators who offer these booking features receive more bookings than those who do not:

  • Free trials. Letting customers try before they buy leads to more bookings. In fact, 30% of customers who took a free trial returned as a paying customer within a month. Learn more about how to turn free trial customers into lifelong fans in our guide.
  • Discounts. Sibling discounts, volume or action based discounts, and other discounts actually increase booking numbers and revenue for educators.
  • Class packs. When you offer class packs, you provide flexibility to families and encourage them to come back for more.
  • Gift cards. Gift cards are the ultimate option for busy families! Offering the gift of learning is a great way to expand your audience and increase your bookings.

Appealing to busy, modern families by offering a delightful booking experience that is easy to use and flexible can help you increase your bookings and revenue. If you are looking to learn more, check out our 2023 Children’s Activity Business Trend Report for all of our analyses.

If you are looking for guidance on managing and running your children’s education and activity business, the team at Sawyer is here to help.

With our suite of tools, like custom forms to record allergies and t-shirt sizes, flexible payment options like gift cards and installment plans, and seamless scheduling and registration on any device, Sawyer saves business owners 28 hours per month. If you are ready to spend less time on admin and more time doing more of what you love, see how Sawyer can help with a free trial or demo.

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