The Ultimate Guide to Increasing Bookings at Your Facility
Let me paint the picture: you are the owner or manager of a sports facility that for the most part of the year has leagues, clubs or clinics renting/using your complex, although this is great you have some slots in your schedule that you want to fill.
I’m sure you’ve tried countless tactics, from creating a Facebook community to organizing games yourself on apps like MeetUp, which made you realize pretty quickly that finding players to consistently rent out those time slots week-after-week can be tough.
We’ve heard this a bunch of times so our industry professionals created this guide to help you. Below you’ll find the best tactics to increase your facility usage rate tailored to sports facilities and businesses.
Step 1: Identify who your target renters are
A customer persona is a small document that outlines who your customers (or in our case players are). We’ve conducted first-hand research to identify who these people are by interviewing 86 individuals that rent from many different facilities regularly.
Now you might be thinking, “Alvie, how is this going to help me get more renters.” But here’s a question for you, if you can’t vividly outline who your customers are, how will you be able to target them?
We recommend conducting your own research to really tailor this plan to your facility but if you don’t have the time for that we’ve got you covered in the link below.
However if you do want to do your own research here are some high level questions you should answer to find the players most likely to rent from your facility:
- Which part of town are most of your renters from? - Do you attract people that are near you or people that are far away from you (is your facility being used for it’s convenience or for its' features?)
- Age? - The way you market to 18-25-year-olds is completely different than the way you target 26-35-year-olds. We can create a strategy that’s just based on age, that's how important this is.
- Marital status? - We all know that there are a whole new slew of responsibilities when you get married and your time commitments change. Knowing when to target your married clientele is important so that you’re not sending them any notifications when the time isn’t right.
- Income? - Although students play the most amount of sports they tend to have the least amount of money. Some students may have parents who are the economic buyer but if that is the case they’ll most probably end up playing in a league rather than renting week in and week out.
- Do they play in a league right now? - For the most part, you’ll find that renters don’t play in leagues. Playing in a league gives players the right dosage of activity for them not to need more hours to play at a paid location.
- What social media do they use? - Knowing which channels your persona uses is very important. If you find that your renters are in fact mostly 25-35 the messaging of your advertisement content has to be something that resonates with them. You might not use newer social media platforms like TikTok and rather stay on older platforms like Facebook, YouTube or Search.
- What pain do they have? - There must be a reason as to why they are renting from you. Maybe it’s because the public facilities are constantly unavailable or maybe other options are too expensive or lack features players want. Whatever it may be depending on who you are targeting you have to understand what pain is driving them to come to you.
- What gain do they want? - Maybe the customers are looking for the finest turf to play at or the freshest ice to carve whatever it is, customers not only want to get rid of a pain point but they also want to gain something in the meantime. Knowing exactly what your customers have to gain from you is crucial to create advertisements or messages that attract the right people.
(You read an article the importance of player personas and how to craft them for your business here.)
Step 2: Target personas based on how they want to be targeted.
If your facility caters to 65 and above of course creating TikTok ads won’t be of any use to you however if your audience is much younger you might reconsider. What I’m saying is you and most facilities tend to serve a few segments rather than just focus on one and if that’s the case you need to be able to use a variety of channels to target your customer personas in a way they want to be targeted.
Let me give an example:
- Persona: Bill is a 45-year-old father and husband. He works from 9AM to 5 PM. He has grown up playing soccer and wants to keep playing however he has little to no time to join a league. He looks to rent out a conveniently located local sports complex from time to time to play a few games of soccer with friends.
Targeting strategy: Bill is most probably not an avid social media user and is most probably only on Facebook and email. The best way to target Bill is to create Facebook Ads, email campaigns and physical mail.
- Persona: Tom is a 24-year-old recent graduate, and new employee at a company. He loves to play hockey and has never considered joining a league. Tom is most probably on Facebook and Instagram however, will probably have a SPAM email which he will never check.
Targeting strategy: For Tom, the focus should be on social media. Now that doesn’t mean just creating a social media post will bring all the 20 year olds to your facility, you have to add additional value to their lives. The truth is the real competitor to your sports facility are public facilities that are free to play at. A strategy that is great is influencer marketing on social media. By targeting some local influencers to organize games at your complex for free is a great way to not just let the influencer build their local presence but also for you to attract some new players and eventually turn them into regulars.
IF YOU WANT TO CREATE ADS
For starters make sure you’re using business.facebook.com and not just boosting posts. I hate to break it to you just clicking “boost” is convenient but not optimal.
Students and full-time employees are typically working from 9 AM - 5 PM so targeting them with ads for after 5 PM specials is a great way to get their interest. A part-time student or employee has more flexibility in their schedule, so targeting these players with ads when trying to rent from 9 AM - 5 PM is your best bet at filling those awkward time slots.
We’ve compiled a list of articles that can help you set up your social media strategy the right way. If you don’t have the time to be creating and optimizing your ads feel free to contact us we’ll see what we can do to help. Joyn offers 2 weeks of free consulting and service so you can give us a try before you decide to make a decision.
Step 3: Making it easy to book your facility
Usually facilities either get booked online or by calling in. For starters, if players still have to call in to book your facility consider signing up for an online booking platform. There’s a variety of solutions out there that will fit your budget however here are some things to keep in mind when making your decision.
Pick a solution that makes it really easy for the players to book. Try thinking from a player's perspective. An organizer won’t be renting out your facility for himself; they usually have a group of friends that they’re bringing in. This creates 2 problems for the organizer:
- Payment: having to collect payment from 10-15 people is not easy especially when you’re playing with friends and strangers. Chasing after players is something that not many people want to do.
- Finding a time to play with everyone is also difficult. Just think about the last time you tried to get all your friends together. We all have dynamic schedules and it’s really hard to find a time that works for everyone. Traditional facility rental software just displays your availability on the website so that the organizer can pick a slot. But what about all the decision making that comes before that. The organizer needs to make sure the time actually works with the group, and in order to make that happen, there is a lot of back and forth communication that needs to happen in their private group chat.
Reducing these two large barriers is extremely important in increasing your usage rate. We have articles that go really deep into tools and solutions that can help with this, here: How to make it easy for players to rent your sports facility
Step 4: Building a community
Sports bring people together, get people to connect and provide a common group for people that might not have anything else in common. Fostering all these benefits of sports at your facility is important. Starting a Facebook and MeetUp community can boost your potential of creating a community of people that know and love your facility.
Here’s a personal example: back in college I used to go to the gym religiously. I had a membership to a really nice gym near my house as well as a membership to the gym at my school which was significantly further. I made the choice every day to go to the gym at my school because I liked the people that went to the gym. It was a great community of people looking to help each other out and see one another grow. This is why I made the additional effort/paid the additional cost of going to the gym at my school.
The same applies to your sports facility if you can introduce people to each other that love to play together they will continue making the effort or paying the price to play at your facility. Topping this up with a platform that harnesses the strength of these groups is a killer strategy to building a community at your facility.
We have a full article here where you can learn how to build a community.
Step 5: Incentivize activity
Incentivizing people to play at your facility is a great way to get people to consider coming through those doors before you convert them to regulars by integrating them into your community. It could be a wild 50% discount for their first visit or maybe even a free meal coupon for their first visit. Think of this as the hook to reel people in and the community as the reason for people to stay.
Here’s an article where you can quickly learn how to create hooks that attract high-value customers.
Step 6: Organizing your own pickup games
Instead of waiting for an organizer to come and do all the work of organizing the players and payments why don’t you make it easier and do that for them? I know this sounds like a lot of work but if you execute step 3 correctly and choose the right tools this can be a breeze. We’ve talked to over 100 players and we know exactly what they find difficult, so our pickup game organization tool makes it really easy for anyone to organize a game at a facility they like. All you would have to do is invite your community and begin the process of organizing pickup games. Joyn App is able to find all of your availability and ask your community whether or not they are available when your facility is. The app also finds the date and time when most people are available and accepts payments from players beforehand, All you have to do is make sure the pickup game is properly supervised. We have a whole guide on how to properly organize pickup games here.
DISCLAIMER: These requires additional effort
Alright, so you’ve tried everything I’ve mentioned and seen great results. Fantastic! Now you want to take it up a notch. Here are my two suggestions:
Step 7: Starting your own league
This is definitely the most time consuming step to take however this is the one that yields the largest return.
We won't go too in depth about this now, but you can read our ultimate guide of organizing your league here.
Step 8: Hosting mini-tournaments
Similar to step 7 however requires lower commitment from players. We have a whole bunch of additional content to actually get you started on organizing a mini-tournament.
You can read our ultimate guide to hosting mini-tournaments here.
There are a variety of different ways to increase bookings for your facility it just comes down to choosing the right partner and tools to make it happen. If you made it this far into the article and are interested in setting up any of these strategies feel free to contact us here we’re more than happy to talk about a strategy that's tailored to your business.