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Internet Strategies for Your Camp

Does your camp have a an Web site? Ever wonder what the Internet means to your camp besides having a Web site? What are the right Internet strategies for your camp?

The fact that you are reading this article on your computer means that you understand the importance of the Internet. Data show that there will be close to a billion Internet users by the year 2003, of whom 230 million will be English-speaking. More and more people use the Internet to find information, comparison shop, and make purchases online. Forrester Research estimates that there will be 2.8 trillion (not billion) dollars in business-to-business (B2B) worth of transactions carried out online in 2002. So, how can you make sure your camp is Internet-savvy?

For starters, your camp should have a Web site. The cost of owning a Web site has dropped significantly. Nowadays, you can pay as little as $20.00 (see our rate sheet) per month (so it is $240/year), and you can have your own Web site, e-mail accounts included! The question is no longer whether you should have a Web site, but what kind of Web site. More and more families will be online, and they fully expect that any business they deal with will have a working Web site, if for no other reason than to provide a phone number and an address.

Your Web site does not have to be complicated. Most parents or camp seekers look for basic information, such as location, activities, schedule, and fees. Some camp directors are hesitant about stating prices, but their concern actually is unnecessary. You want people who are comfortable with your fees calling your camp. Parents also would like to know early on how much it will cost to send their child to your camp. Moreover, the pricing information is available to anyone who asks, so it makes little sense to hide it.

You want to pay attention to user interface. Ease of navigation and clarity of information are essential. You also want to make sure that you do not have long pages with many (large) graphics. Many users are still on slow connection, and it is very annoying if a page takes a long time to load. You may want to hire professionals to take care of your layout and graphics (CampDepot.com offers such a service). Maintenance of your Web site (i.e., changing information) also is important. It does not take someone with an advanced degree to manage your site. You can either do it yourself if you are comfortable with the Internet, or you can hire someone.

Assuming that you have a Web site, a common question is whether or not you need a store that sells items bearing your logo or other stuff that parents may want to purchase. The answer depends on the volume of sales you have and whether or not you will increase sales if you have an online store. That is, do you think parents will buy articles from you in the off-season? Most likely, they will buy camp-related stuff during the camp season, when they drop off or pick up their child. The expense of maintaining an online store is high (you have to check your orders and ship them in a timely fashion). Therefore, unless you have an organization that operates year-round, it is not cost-effective to have an online store. (However, if you think you need one, CampDepot.com can help you set one up.  (Click here for more details.)

OK, now you have a good Web site and maybe an online store. Is that it for you? Actually there is more, potentially a lot more if you are interested in reducing your operating costs. For example, like millions of consumers, you can participate, as a business, in an online B2B Marketplace like the one featured in CampDepot.com. Instead of shopping for the best prices by phone and wondering about whether you are getting the best price or selection, you will find all of the products and more online. Your shopping is easier, hassle-free, and you save a lot of time.

Do you stop here? No! A camp is a real business. You have many people who perform many tasks, such as maintaining employee records, keeping track of maintenance and inspection schedules, ordering, following, and reconciling purchases, etc. You probably have a number of software packages that handle these tasks in your office. However, software get outdated, and, more important, how do you access this information when you are not in your office?

The technology exists to put many of your operational needs, whether employee tracking, accounting, order tracking, etc. on the Web (as the jargon goes, on your Intranet). Now, everyone with the right password (i.e., access privilege) can access relevant information from any computer with an Internet connection. Not only will this transition allow you to keep current with your software (no need to upgrade unless you update your user interface, even though the underlying application changes), but also you can view any information from anywhere, even when you are on a business trip away from your home office. Moreover, the interface is the same on all computers. This technology will reduce your operational expenses and streamline your processes.

CampDepot.com can provide all of these services for you. We can help you to build your Web site, host it,  and maintain it. We offer you the B2B MarketPlace, where you can find out about products and vendors. Lastly, we can be your technology provider,  help you to set up your Intranet, and advise you on all matters concerning the Internet. Click here for our Web hosting rate sheet, and/or contact us if you are interested in our technology services.

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