We chatted with Thomas Romano, the youth and family program coordinator for the Town of Lexington Recreation and Community Program.
Our organization is with the license and recreation community programs department. We are a municipality of around 34,000 people and we do programs for ages 0 to 100 throughout the entire year. We’ve got your traditional day camps over the summer, various classes, and senior lunches twice a week throughout the entire year for seniors aged 60+. There’s a variety of programs more along the lines of a vacation week that range from cooking classes to martial arts, ice skating, street hockey, there’s really something for everyone. Our mission is to provide affordable, quality programs for the in-town residents and non-residents alike.
There’s around ten full time staff running various programs throughout the year. Depending on the season, we have a part time staff of around 200 over the summer and about 50 throughout the school year, and instructors from previous programs throughout. My role is the Youth and Family Program Coordinators, which includes any of the family programs. We had a chess tournament and a Winter Wonderland program over December break that I developed.
It certainly depends on the program, but it’s typically a three month turnaround time. We started planning our summer schedule in December because we typically advertise for the program in February. And it takes two and three months of designer work building the brochure until it’s ready for advertising to the public.
Issuu was referred to me through word of mouth. There was another rec department that said they used Issuu and had a positive experience. Prior to Issuu, we had a PDF available for download from our website, but half of the people that viewed it said it never loaded and it wasn’t very user-friendly. Using Issuu made it easier for people with screen readers, the ability to zoom in, linking directly to classes and programs, and all of the information is right there at their fingertips. They don’t have to look it up elsewhere. It turns an otherwise frustrating experience into something magical and members of the community are able to see a class they like and click in the document to register. I like using it and I recommend it to other departments, also.
We used to print out the brochure and send it to every household. Surprisingly, we didn’t see a drop in registration when we moved to online distribution only and stopped sending out a physical copy. People seem to find it pretty easy to navigate and I really like the feature where I can add in website links for each program’s registration page.
Let’s see, we typically do four brochures per year, sent out to 12,000 households and let’s say each brochure costs around $1 to produce and print. The math is a little rough, but by going fully digital with Issuu, we save around $55,000 every year in printing costs. We invested that savings back into our programs and expanded the number of people we serve.
Another feature I use frequently is analytics. I like using the insights from Issuu statistics to see how many people read it and how long they read it. We then use this information to build future brochures and understand how many people read it compared to how many registrations we had. It helps us know how many people actually went from reading, clicked on what they wanted to, and then registered for a program. I use this frequently.
We reached out to some communities that we hadn’t really thought of reaching out to before and 43% of those reads correlated to signups for our programs. The results were awesome to see and we are very excited about delving deeper into our statistics.
We don’t currently have videos in our brochures, but it’s something we’ve been considering for our summer program to highlight what the program can look like, especially for parents who want to know more. Also, we are making updates to our website and hope to embed the program guides directly onto the website.
My favorite.. I really enjoy archery. I did a lot of archery as a kid and in boy scouts and someday I would absolutely love to run our department's archery program.
Is it cheesy if I say they’re all my favorite? I’m really excited about the more recent brochures because we have a design team working on them, which is certainly better than what we could create alone. The design team helped us establish a great template where we switch up the cover and color scheme for the season, but the overall template stays the same. Plus each brochure sees a new program added and we’re only getting better as we go, so they’re all my favorite.
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