When you have a sense of market trends, you can make better informed decisions and run your business more efficiently. Understanding when and how parents book camps, what types of camps and activities they are interested in, and how much your peers are charging can help increase your revenue, expand your audience, and grow your business in 2023.

We analyzed data from 7.2 million camp and activity bookings processed in 2022 to determine important trends that can help you make decisions as you publish your camp listings, set prices, and more.

Camp booking trends 

In-person camp is back

The data is clear: parents want to book in-person camps for their children. Our data shows that demand for in-person activities increased by 75 percent year-over-year in 2022 when compared with 2021 (and 135 percent when compared to 2020). Safety is, of course, still very important to parents so make sure you inform families of your health and safety procedures and practices throughout the discovery and booking process.

Raising prices does not affect enrollment 

Inflation has caused price increases across the board. Camp is no different. In 2022, we found that camp providers increased their prices by 35 percent when compared to 2021. However, purchase intent from parents did not change. Checkout conversion numbers remained steady year-over-year, which means camp owners who do not increase prices in 2023 may be leaving money on the table.

Convenience is key

We found that 42 percent of parents booked camp for their children outside of typical working hours (9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) using online camp registration software. Moreover, 60 percent of parents booked camps for their children on their phone or tablet. Camps that rely on phone calls and emails to make bookings would miss out on this revenue. Consider using a registration software to let your customers easily book how and when they want.

Parents book camps in advance

Publishing your camp sessions in the winter is beneficial for camp owners. We found that parents make camp purchases at least two months before camp begins. When you post your camp listings early, parents can spend one to two months discovering, comparing and contrasting, and deciding before making their camp purchase two-plus months in advance. Plus, early registrations allow you to better understand demand for your camp. Enabling waitlists for sold out sessions can help you capture registration intent and expand your offerings with confidence.

Flexible payment options increase registration

When you offer flexible payment options like payment plans and buy now, pay later (BNPL), you make your camp accessible to more families. Of the 7.2 million bookings processed in 2022, 11 percent utilized a BNPL option. Offering payment plans and options with a big ticket item like camp can increase your registration.

How to get millennial parents to buy

After diving into the data, it is important to take time to think about how you can use this information for planning and marketing. Who are you hoping to reach with your marketing? What are they interested in seeing to help them make a camp booking decision?

Pew Research defines millennials as anyone born between 1981 and 1996. In 2022, that means that millennials span the ages of 26 to 41. In 2018, Pew Research reported that approximately 19 million millennials birthing people (55 percent) had given birth to a child. 

Therefore, if you are marketing your camp to parents in 2023, you are most likely talking to millennials. Knowing what millennial parents value is important to creating marketing assets and strategies that will persuade them to book your camp over a competitor.

What do millennial parents value?

When you create marketing assets for your camp, keep these values in mind.

  1. Showcase experiences over things. Millennial parents report being more interested in providing experiences rather than physical items for their children. In your marketing materials, highlight what campers will do and learn at your camp to get millennial parents interested.
  2. Embrace social media. Millennial parents are digital natives. Pew Research found that 74 percent of the 91 percent of parents who use social media are on Facebook, making it the most popular social media platform for parents. Likewise, Pew Research also found that 33 percent of parents under 40 are on Instagram. Utilizing these platforms will help you reach millennial parents where they are.
  3. Highlight user-generated content (UGC). Adweek found that 47 percent of millennials say that they trust UGC whereas 25 percent say they trust brand-created content. Showcase customer reviews, create photo contests, and develop a strong community of loyal fans to get millennials in the door.

Recommendations for camps

Camps can increase revenue and grow in 2023 by raising prices, offering payment plans, publishing camp listings in the winter, and utilizing an online camp registration software to take bookings 24/7. 

Further study of the booking trends from 2022 can help camp owners make decisions, plan their timeline, and create effective marketing assets. Download the full 2022 Camp Booking Trend Report to learn more so you can make 2023 your strongest year yet.

This article was sponsored by Sawyer. Sawyer is an all-in-one camp registration and management software that helps camp owners and children’s activity providers efficiently run their businesses so they can spend more time doing what they love. 

Lizzie Kreitman is the content marketing manager for Sawyer. She helps connect camp owners and educators with the resources they need so they can spend less time on administrative tasks and more time working with children. A lifelong lover of camp as both a camper and counselor, Lizzie is thrilled that she gets to spend her days helping providers discover and use Sawyer to make camp more accessible.

Periodically, the American Camp Association (ACA) makes timely and relevant information about products and services available to its members so they can make informed decisions for their camps. However, the ACA does not endorse products, services, or companies.