Join The Kids Club

According to the end-of-the-year survey, most of the participants learn about the program on the park district’s website or at one of the nature centers. Email blasts introducing the program are also sent to park visitors who are interested in Cleveland Metroparks events, and Kids Club information is included in the park district’s newsletter. Facebook and other social media are also used to create interest in the club.

Once enrolled, members receive a weekly eNewsletter with updates and new activities, plus access to a club website. Members are encouraged to submit photos of themselves at any of the events that are then posted on the website. One page on the website is updated frequently to include puzzles relating to upcoming events. To help generate interest in the club and to update members, a Kids Club logo is placed next to qualifying programs in the park district’s monthly newsletter.

“Parents told me that the Kids Club motivated their kids to get out and see more of the park district and their programs,” says Dan Crandall, Manager of Visitor Services. “Parents also said [it] gave them an opportunity to spend quality time with their family. That was exactly what we wanted to hear.”

Sponsors And Partners

To help offset the program cost, several sponsors and partners are solicited. Sponsorship includes logo presence on the T-shirt, web page, birthday cards, on-site booth, and banners. Sponsors are also mentioned in press releases, Facebook posts, and on-site announcements. Sponsorships for the first year brought in $11,750, some in in-kind value.

Partners provide coupons and offers, such as free Lake County Captains (baseball) and Lake Erie Monsters (hockey) tickets, and receive logo recognition on the entry forms, eblasts, eNewsletters, on-site booths, and mention in press releases.

The first year of the program attracted 1,428 members. Of those, 185 were paid and 1,243 were at the free level. The end-of-the-year survey indicated people were reluctant to pay for the first year as they wanted to try out the new program. Due to the popularity of the club, many indicated they were willing to sign up for the paid membership the second year.

However, only 66.7 percent of the members surveyed felt the $20 registration fee was acceptable, so a reduced price of $10 for paid membership is contemplated for next year. A sibling discount (first sibling pays $10 and other siblings pay $7) is also under consideration. Though T-shirts are still included with the paid membership, T-shirts will also be available to members at any level for $7.

Improving For The Future

The end-of-the-year party was held at Cleveland Metroparks Chalet Recreation Area in the beginning of November, and approximately 80 children attended. Attendees receive complimentary food coupons, hayrides and haymazes, a DJ with dancing, a photobooth, crafts, and a scavenger hunt.

Planning the party was challenging, as attendance was difficult to predict. In a proactive approach to knowing how many children have completed their passport, an incentive to turn in completed passports ahead of time to receive a ticket to the party will be initiated.

“The first year of the Kids Club was an extreme success,” says Brian Zimmerman, Cleveland Metroparks Executive Director. “We received overwhelming positive comments that give us a great foundation to build on.”

Marjorie Thomas is a Cleveland Metroparks Senior Marketing Specialist. Reach her at met@clevelandmetroparks.com.

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