Feel The Vibe

Why do parents and kids really choose one camp over another?

Is it because one has an Olympic-sized swimming pool, or a Go-Kart track? Maybe. Is it because Johnny’s friends are going there too, or because Johnny’s mom heard from all of her friends that it’s the new, hot camp? Yeah, sometimes. In the majority of cases, though, parents and kids ultimately choose a camp based on the “feeling” they get about that camp. I think most camp directors know this. That’s why in-home visits and tours are so widely used ... because these methods work. And, they work because they’re better than any other method at conveying the true “feel” of a camp.

These days, your website is the first place new families will see, hear, and read about your camp. A website is certainly no match for in-home visits or tours when it comes to conveying a camp’s true “feel.” But if a website is planned, designed, and developed properly, it can capture and convey a camp’s essence better than most other camp websites, and this will accomplish one very important objective—to get your camp on more new families’ short lists. So, it’s important that a website does everything it can to emphasize and project the greatest selling tool—your camp’s true “feel.”

The Right Designers

Using an inadequate pre-production process and not spending enough time on discovery and strategy can result in a new website that misses the mark.

So, what’s the mistake that camp directors make in this area?

They hire a web-design company that doesn’t do enough in the pre-production phase of building the website (the stuff you do before the design work starts). This leads to the web-design company not really knowing what the camp is all about, what’s really different about it, and what the camp’s true “feel” is. And, if the company doesn’t don’t know that, it won’t be able to include that positive vibe in the new website.

How do you avoid this mistake?

Ask web-design companies, before hiring them, to explain their process for learning about the camp, about differentiating it from others in the market, about how they will make sure the new website captures and conveys the true “feel” of the camp. Good web-design companies spend a significant amount of time in pre-production because they know this is where success is built. They do in-depth interviews with you, your staff members, and even your customers. They study the competition and look for holes in the marketplace that can be filled with the camp’s unique strengths. They gather information specifically for the purpose of creating innovative web pages and features, and more.

Establish Trust

Just conveying a camp’s feel isn’t enough … you also need to make sure the website’s design is good enough.  

Stanford University conducted a study titled “How Do People Evaluate a Website's Credibility?” This study invited 2,684 people to rate the credibility of 100 websites. The study found that participants used visual cues, such as the site’s overall design or look, to assess a site’s credibility more than any other feature.

So, if a camp website’s design looks outdated, unprofessional, or unappealing, a large percentage of new, prospective parents and campers who view the website for the first time are assigning the camp has less credibility than that of other camps with a better-looking design on their websites.

And what exactly is credibility? 

It’s trust. 

Even though the concept isn’t rational, most people decide within a split second of seeing a website’s design whether they can entrust their children with the staff members and the camp. Ugly, outdated, unprofessional-looking designs make people feel less trust for a camp.

It’s a tenet of human psychology that human beings often look for shortcuts to make important decisions. And one of the shortcuts we ALL use is evaluating the way a company’s marketing and website by how it looks.

The Next Step

The better your website’s design, the more that people will trust you initially and feel attracted to you and your camp ... and take the next step.

With more competition these days and the ability of parents and campers to easily find the next camp on Google, you must make a great first impression on your website and capture every new camper lead you can by conveying your camp’s real feel.  

Chris Davis is the owner of DVS Camp Websites. Download his free report: “5 Ways Your Website Is Costing You New Campers” at www.campbusiness.com/123 or email him at chriscb@dvscampwebsites.com.