Meeting Patron Payment Expectations

Devin Meister

July 21, 2022

Are you meeting patron payment expectations? Do you offer the right options for the right situations?

Because it matters both to those making the payments and to your office receiving them. And one thing is for sure: there are a lot more options than there used to be, but they can make a big difference for your community.

Take the Frisco Adventure Park for example. “We launched an auto-debit program with our kids camp and it went flawlessly,” said Kelsy Maxie, former Guest Services Manager at the park. “That was huge for the community, especially with some of the recent hardships, not having to pay upfront for all of their kids’ camps for the whole summer was critical. We just had them put 20% down and then the rest is charged the first of the month. It’s been so smooth. It’s amazing.” 

Auto-debit capabilities like Frisco was able to implement are just one example of things that were previously out of reach for many parks and recreation departments. Here are five common payment options including some you might not have considered, but should.

Cash –  Still the King?

The statement “cash is king” used to be unquestioned, because there weren’t viable alternatives. Nobody wanted to write a check at the pool and the concession stand wasn’t going to accept an IOU. For these small and unscheduled transactions, cash was and is still an option. But its days as the king or even the preferred option are quickly fading for a couple of reasons. For starters, it’s no longer the fastest method. Digital payments are nearly instantaneous from payer to account deposits and don’t require making change or extra steps to deposit. Second, cash presents increased risk and opportunities for theft or loss. Lastly, it’s not as convenient for the many patrons that don’t carry cash and are accustomed to having access to the funds they need, when they need it.

Cards and Contactless – Dip, Swipe, and Tap

Here is the heir apparent to cash. Whether it’s a card or an app, consumers love the convenience of having the funds they need whenever they want them. Card readers are increasingly portable and affordable, allowing parks and recreation departments to place them where they are most needed or take them anywhere for special and one-time events. They can even operate at kiosks freeing your staff to attend to more pressing or customer-facing tasks. For most retail transactions, these options are quickly becoming the go-to choice. Watch a series of quick and funny videos to learn why.

Flexible and Installment Options – Meeting Community Needs

Your programs and services are some of the most needed and valued segments of your community. Unfortunately, not everyone has the same financial resources available, which can put those offerings out of reach of the families and individuals that need them most. It can also create a bookkeeping and accounting nightmare keeping track of what’s paid and what’s owed. Offering flexible payments or payment installment options is an important way to make your programs more budget-friendly, inclusive, and accessible to your community.

Online Payments – Streamlining Processes

In many situations, from program registration to facility reservations, online is the expected and most efficient way to collect payments. It can streamline the entire process, especially where resources are limited or sell out, such as kids camps, classes, or facilities. By automatically associating the payment with the resource, you’ll prevent double-booking while ensuring that patrons have fair and equal opportunities to all that you offer. Best of all for you and your staff, its self-service nature enables you to be available to patrons effectively 24/7 without any increase in staffing.

Echecks – Simplify Recurring Payments … or Any Payment

For many relatively big-ticket items such as memberships or recurring classes, Echecks might be the perfect solution for your patrons and your staff. With a quick one-time setup, both parties enjoy seamless payment convenience. For patrons, it enables them to go green and eliminate the hassle of remembering to write and send checks on time. In some instances, once the account is connected, patrons can use Echecks to make all types of payments and avoid credit card processing fees altogether, which can add up quickly. For your office, you’ll receive and settle funds faster, pay less in processing costs, and remove much of the headache caused by outdated or expired credit cards.

The Best Option – It Depends

The reality is that there is no one payment option that is best for every payment scenario. Forward-thinking parks and recreation departments will offer a variety of options for their community depending on the situation. The good news is that all forms of modern digital payments are accessible to almost any parks and recreation department. They greatly simplify actions for both parties during the transaction and beyond, while minimizing risks associated with cash.

Learn more about how digital payments could streamline your processes and dramatically enhance convenience for your patrons. Get a PayTrac Demo.