Village of Hawthorn Woods

The Village of Hawthorn Woods moved from desktop software to ACTIVE Net, fully-hosted recreation software, to offer online registration, improve service, and save time.



Over the last few years, the Village of Hawthorn Woods, Illinois has focused on keeping people in town for recreational programs. Recreation was losing residents to offerings in surrounding communities. Kelly Carlson joined Hawthorn Woods in 2009 as the Recreation Coordinator (now Recreation and Special Events Manager) and started to recognize some of the problems. Since they couldn’t offer online registration through the previous system, participants had to fax, mail, or drop off paper forms for staff members to manually enter and file away the papers. It was very time consuming for customers and staff members.

The Village was struggling with a lack of vendor support and an unfriendly user interface. It was time for a change. After a recommendation from the Aquatics Center Coordinator, Dawn Johnson, who had worked with ACTIVE Network previously, Kelly and Hawthorn Woods decided to move to ACTIVE’s fully-hosted recreation software, ACTIVE Net.

"Doing paper-based registrations was a hassle. And the software we had only allowed you to work on one screen at a time. We needed online registration, a better user interface and responsive customer support. We decided to go with ACTIVE."

ACTIVE Network helps the Village of Hawthorn Woods…

Get More Program Participation

Online registration makes programs more accessible for residents and has helped to increase participation and revenue.

Manage Operations and Programs Easily

Hawthorn Woods saves valuable staff time with online registration and has cut costs on hardware and outsourced IT support.

Build Lasting Relationships

With the time savings, the Village of Hawthorn Woods can focus on customer service rather than paperwork.

Q&A with Kelly Carlson, Recreation and Special Events Manager


We were having issues with our previous software system. We’d call the company for support but couldn’t get anyone to respond. That was the breaking point, but we had some issues before that, too.

Only one screen at a time could be opened, so you couldn’t be interrupted to look something else up or you’d lose your work. It also didn’t have online registration. We had a process where customers would send in paper forms and staff members would manually enter the information. It was really labor intensive and took too much time, especially during peak times like the summer. Finally, our previous system was self-hosted meaning that we could only run it on the computers it was installed on, there was no remote access, and we were responsible for IT issues.


We needed online registration because customer service was really important to us. We set our priorities for a new system. Also, we needed something that was user-friendly for year-round staff and the seasonal staff that work at the Aquatic Center.

ACTIVE as a company and their product, ACTIVE Net, came highly recommended. It fit all of our needs. Also, it has a great calendar feature where you can view all programs, facilities, equipment, and instructors in one place. It doesn’t allow you to double book programs and gives you a complete view of your offerings. At budget-planning time, we made a recommendation to implement ACTIVE Net.


We wanted to get it in and running as quickly as we could, so the implementation, training and learning process went at warp speed. ACTIVE was flexible and could help us move as quickly as we wanted. It went well for us because we were ultimately up and running within 60 days.

"Being able to access the system from anywhere is a great advantage for mobile planning. It’s wonderful to be out of the office or on my phone and quickly send an email to summer camp families, for example."


Our old software system slowed everything down. We had a dedicated connection that went from the main computer to the Aquatics Center. When someone would be logged into the recreation system, everything else would run slowly. It was like a first generation computer! With all of that gone because ACTIVE Net is fully-hosted, we don’t have to worry about upkeep or a slow response time.

"With online registration, parents don’t have to pack up their kids and trek down to Village Hall to sign up for programs. They can control what they want, make their selections online and be registered, paid and confirmed within a couple of minutes."

For our staff it’s been a huge time saver. Our old system was so antiquated and took a lot of time for employees of the Village as well as our customers. Once you post classes online, registration really does run itself. The time savings, especially in the summer, are significant. Hopefully we can get to 100% online registration percentage someday.


In the past, parents and customers would have to line up for registrations at the front desk. It would often take significant time to get through the signup process.

Now, it only takes a few minutes for parents to register and it can be from the couch at home. The other part that is great is that each customer has more control over what they want and they can do it independently. It’s easy to use, takes a few minutes, and simplifies the registration and payment process for everyone.


The Village of Hawthorn Woods’ Recreation & Aquatics Department, Kelly Carlson, and residents were being held back by an outdated recreation system. With a key initiative being set to keep residents in town for recreational programs rather than losing them to surrounding communities, it became clear that a change needed to be made. After switching to ACTIVE Network’s fully-hosted recreation solution in 2011, staff and customers have saved significant time processing registrations. With just one year on ACTIVE Net, Kelly is looking forward to reaching the goal of 100% online registrations by implementing more marketing campaigns through the system.

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