Monday, February 1, 2016

Getting Virginia Beach Healthy All in One Day

by Michael Kalvort, CPRE

VRPS Board of Directors
2016 Professional Education and Senior Resource Group Liaison
2016 LTI Committee
Director, Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation

Many departments in parks and recreation agencies experience a massive rush of registrations at the beginning of summer camp season, before the start of the school year and the first day the catalog is released. Yet, seldom do we, as professionals, develop sales and incentives for our customers to take advantage of. In celebrating the Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation Department’s 60th Anniversary and in tying in our citizen’s healthy New Year’s resolutions to work out and to become more fit, we decided to offer a one-day open house where we would discount our annual recreation center memberships from $86 to $60. Our memberships include access to all our amenities at our recreation centers.

This promotion was not as simple as just placing an ad in the paper and notifying our team members at the recreation centers. It was a total team effort. For weeks, social media was deployed, ad buys were placed, our team went through extensive sales training, our procedures and data entry mechanisms were improved, and our volunteer boards, including the Parks and Recreation Commission and the Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation Foundation, were enlisted to help us get the message out to our many residents. In the end, through a lot of hard work and extensive team work, the promotion was a true success. Over 3,700 new memberships were sold, 3,100 being adults (our target audience for this venture), and over $200,000 was generated in the course of six short hours.

Were there some minor hiccups? Of course. Lines were fairly long, and some residents did not wait due to other commitments on the weekend, yet overwhelmingly, our citizens voiced their appreciation of not only offering this great deal, but also extending a call to action for each and every one of them to become healthier and fit in the New Year. Sometimes it takes extreme pressure and overwhelming odds to unify as a team, and for this entire day, Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation was solely focused on customer service and our parks and recreation mission to improve the lives of our citizens through wellness and play.

I am always excited when I get a chance to speak with other fellow professionals throughout the state learn about their experiences and programs. This is an opportunity to share ours.

I don’t write this blog to gloat or to say how Virginia Beach is doing extraordinary things (even though I am extremely proud of my coworkers and their ability to create new programs and develop and renovate world class facilities), but it’s to share that just like some businesses hold one-day sales on Black Friday, your department can also employ those tactics just like we did. Our marketing division worked tirelessly to ensure the message was spread throughout our community and that this was a one-day, limited time offer.  Just like in business, scarcity creates demand and motivates individuals. 

Many of you hold one-day or weekend special events which draw hundreds or thousands into your area. Why couldn’t this happen for a program or a special parks and recreation offer? Start planning today and gear up for success….you might be surprised at the turnout and impact hundreds or thousands of your neighbors all in one day. 

I look forward to hearing about your success at LTI or in Roanoke at congress.

Michael Kalvort, CPRE is the Parks and Recreation Director of the City of Virginia Beach. He can be reached at 757-385-1122.

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