3 Biggest Take-Aways from the 2023 National Recreation and Parks Association Conference

Abby Rossi

November 3, 2023

The National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) is the heart of the parks and recreation industry, and Vermont Systems was honored to attend the 2023 conference back in October. We had the opportunity to meet with like-minded individuals, hear from fellow recreation experts, and share our newest solutions that enhance your patron experiences! As a team, we gathered to share our biggest discoveries from the 2023 NRPA Conference.

Take-Away #1: Everyone Wants Mobile

It’s safe to say that mobile usage spans all generations and is dramatically favored by many. It’s also safe to say that departments have limited resources both technically and available funds to support additional technology. For those reasons, departments have been slow to offer mobile apps to their communities, even though it’s clear that there is demand. But the benefits outweigh the struggles.

The pull for mobile apps comes from the want to have their patrons feel the connection to their community when they are out and about and while they are at home. A mobile app guides patrons to events, classes, and resources that their community is hosting directly from their couch. They don’t have to lift a finger to find out what is happening the next day, week, or month to plan their calendar.

Take-Away #2: Simpler Payments

One thing is clear, both patrons and staff are often frustrated by departments’ abilities – or inability – to pay the way they want to and for it to settle correctly in a timely manner. Either patrons don’t have the convenience they need with optional payment plans or the payment process is way too slow, and the systems can be overly complicated for new staff. Simplifying payments keeps the patron coming back and scheduling more. There’s nothing quite like trying to sign your kid up for camp and the payment process taking WAY too long. It causes a divide between staff and patrons and maybe the potential for not trying in the future.

It’s no longer worth your time or your patrons’ time to deal with unreliable systems.

Take-Away #3: Personal Development and Growth

Investing in solutions is one thing, but of limited value if you don’t also invest in your people. We saw a big uptick in interest in how departments can empower their personnel, be more efficient, and keep the talent they have. Whether the staff is full-time, part-time, or volunteer, it’s important to provide the tools they need to succeed in their position. It not only makes their job run smoothly, but it allows for more positive experiences with each patron that they encounter.

The more time you delegate training you and your staff, the more confident you will feel in your role. You may feel as though you already know everything you need to know, but there are always improvements and developments that can strengthen, elevate, and make you and your team more efficient.

What’s Your Take?

We’re pretty confident that you are relating to at least one of the above takeaways, but there is no doubt that you are always in search of a better way to provide your patrons with a more elevated experience. What are you seeing? Follow us on our social channels or contact us directly and share what you see happening.

It’s time to talk to the experts.