3 Simple Steps for Developing an Online Recreation Guide

Online Recreation GuideMany Parks and Recreation Centers are transitioning from hard copy printed brochures to interactive online versions. Not only is this a much cheaper option but it is also a greener way of communicating with your customers and offers 24/7 access to the most up-to-date recreation information. By sharing your interactive guide on your website you can also drive traffic through search engine optimization in your content and actively track and measure how many people are accessing and using your guide using web analytics.

1.       Creating an Online Recreation Guide

Creating an online guide is probably simpler than you think. There are many websites where you can publish your online guide free-of-charge including Calameo.com, Issuu.com and Yudufree.com. Publishing your guide on these sites generally requires creating a free account and simply uploading a PDF or word file. The publishing platform will then convert it into a dynamic interactive guide, much like an e-zine. Check out some examples of parks and recreation guides created using these free tools below:

–          Panorama Recreation, BC – Issuu

–          Burien, Wa – Calameo

–          Anaheim, Ca – Yudu Free

2.       Promoting your Online Recreation Guide

Once you’ve created your online guide, it’s important to promote it using multiple channels in order to  educate your customers about this online resource and encourage them to start using it.

Website – Place a clear prominent link to your guide on your website. Hint: Use an image of the front page of your guide as the click-thru link, this will highlight it and attract more attention and clicks.

Social Media – Take the same link from your website and post it on your blog, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages Hint: Use the link to the brochure hosting page on your website so you can also drive more traffic to your site.

Email – Consider including a link to your online brochure in your standard email signatures and be sure to highlight it in any e-newsletters you send out to the community.

Offline marketing – QR codes, text messages, posters, flyers, postcards, POP displays, and local media are all great ways to drive customers online to check out your interactive guide.

3.       Transitioning to an Online Recreation Guide

Although there is a growing trend towards moving recreation guides online, some community organizations are reluctant to move away from an offline brochure completely. If this is the case, consider a gradual transition by reducing the size of your current publication; reduce the amount of content in your printed guide and supplement this with an online version. Another option is to simply reduce the amount of printed copies of your offline brochure. Print a smaller number of copies and leave them in popular pick-up locations like community centers, churches, schools etc. Give your customers the choice of opting-in and request that they subscribe to receive a printed version, or encourage them to view it online as a greener alternative. A final more strategic option is to print smaller guides for targeted markets, such as seniors, summer camp participants etc. Joining forces with other departments or publications to share costs can also be beneficial.

Rachel Delaney, Online Marketing Specialist at Active Network presented an educational session on interactive recreation guides at the 2011 NRPA Congress, complete with examples and success stories of how community organizations from across North America are moving to online brochures. Click here to download the free eBook: