14 Fall Event Ideas for September & October

15 Fall Event Ideas photo

Need event ideas for your martial arts school, gym, community group, or another organization? With autumn approaching, you’ll have lots of opportunities to plan around seasonal delights. These fall event ideas are easy to customize for your participants with online event registration software like Event Manager.

1) Back-to-School/Autumn Pancake Breakfast

Celebrate the turn of the season with a themed breakfast! Use it to commemorate the start of school or the beginning of autumn. Pick your favorite breakfast place in town, or make it special with an apple pancake or pumpkin pancake recipe that you can share with your attendees later. Martial arts schools or gyms: use this fall breakfast as a way to engage prospects.

2) Costume Contest

Dress up at your office, school, team, exercise class, or classroom Halloween party. If you’re a coach or martial arts instructor, have fun with your students by creating a contest that is sport specific. Create a giveaway prize with a Halloween trick or treat bag with items that your group will enjoy.

3) Pumpkin Carving Party with Contest & Prizes

Get in this family-friendly activity by using a twist: pick categories for your pumpkin contest, like the funniest, most creative, and most unexpected. Winner gets a gift card to Amazon or a favorite local restaurant. Make sure you take lots of photos to post to Facebook and Instagram to engage your online community.

4) Fall Bike Tours

Get a group together for a fun time on two wheels as the weather begins to cool. Explore the earthy, changing colors of the trees for a weekend camping trip or day trip. If you want to accommodate all levels of cyclists, try enjoying a rail trail.

Astronomy Camping Fall Ideas

5) Astronomy Night

Make this an educational after-school event for a student science club, field trip, or as a way to build community in your young athletes. Visit an observatory, planetarium, or go outside with chairs, blankets, and a campfire.

6) National School Success Month

Host a seminar series for students and/or parents on good academic habits. This is a great opportunity for coaches and martial arts school owners to talk about how students can use the discipline that they learn in their sport to excel in the classroom. Offer study time, tutoring, or a way to connect students with peer study groups.

7) Museum Field Trip

Local or big city museums, in addition to their usual exhibits, usually have seasonal or special exhibits. While art museums are popular, science museums are great for kids who want a more tactile, interactive experience.

8) National Cheese Pizza Day (Sept. 5th)

Not that there needs to be an excuse for pizza, but we’ll take one when we have it. Host a pizza lunch or dinner at your school, office, or local community organization.

Frisbee Fall Ideas

9) Ultimate Frisbee Game

Get everyone outside with an adult office league or a team at your gym. Being outside is not only fun, but it significantly impacts the way you decompress.

10) Themed Paint Nights

Create a fall or Halloween-themed paint night for kids, adults, or both. Make it fun for kids with fingerpainting or adult-friendly with drinks.

11) Bonfires/Seasonal Cookout

Have your group submit their favorite seasonal recipes anonymously and have everyone pick their top five favorites. The majority says what will cook on the fire. S’mores are always great for dessert.

12) National Grandparents Day (Sept. 8)

Celebrate the special roles and relationships of grandparents with a dinner, craft night, or a sport specific demonstration from their grandchildren athletes. Have kids make cards or fundraise for gift cards.

13) Local Farm Adventure

Pumpkin patches and hay rides may feel cliché, but they’re a classic for many reasons. And hot cider always tastes better in season.

14) Haunted House

Get spooky with a haunted house or trail. Expert tip: make group t-shirts so you can keep track of your group.

Author: Jennifer Miller, Member Solutions Marketing Specialist

Martial Arts Summer Events & Marketing Strategies

Calendar on tablet

Anyone who follows the show Game of Thrones knows the famous saying, “Winter is coming,” which is a warning of difficult times to come.

For most martial arts and fitness-based businesses, fall and winter tend to be our best times of the year, with high enrollment and phenomenal retention, while spring and summer tend to be the most challenging and slowest. This begs the question, why can’t spring and summer be the same as the rest of the year?

About four years ago, I noticed that my accounts receivable were down nearly 25% during June, July, and August. Summer became the worst time of the year for me and my business. It seemed like a struggle just to make it through.

Fast forward to a few years later, I can now honestly say that I look forward to Spring and Summer as much as Fall and Winter. With proper coordination, event planning, and marketing, any season can be a success.

Here are a few ideas that I have implemented as part of my program to help keep my classes busy and drive new members to my school.

1. Fun Fridays

Many of our members – especially the children – perceive martial arts or fitness as a “school” or “work” related activity to be only done during the school year. This makes it imperative that we adjust our programs to add more fun and excitement during the Summer.

One of the most exciting things that we do during our Summer months is our “Fun Fridays” series. I take every Friday that I am open during the summer months and choose a specific theme or activity for that day.

Here are a few of the themes that I do for my Fun Fridays:

  • Crazy Hair Day: Kids wear their wackiest hairstyles during class
  • Pajama Day: Kids can wear their favorite pajamas during classes – so long as the outfit is appropriate
  • Weapons Day: Safely practice a weapon that the belt has never done
  • Buddy Day: Kids get to bring a friend or two to take a class with them, which is a great way to attain new students
  • Ice Cream Day: I purchase ice cream cups and give them out to the kids when the class is over. This is by far the most exciting Fun Friday!

You can get as creative as possible, but make sure that your activities are well-structured, well-staffed and provide value to the parents as well. Although the atmosphere at your school during these Fridays will be more relaxed, it is important that parents understand that the children will still be practicing and training in martial arts.

2. Events

Another idea that I use to increase member retention, as well as acquire new members during the Summer months, is conducting seasonally themed events.

Annual Picnic

I always plan an Annual Summer Picnic at the beginning of August. I rent out an entire park with a kitchen and invite my entire student body and their friends to join. At last year’s picnic, well over 400 people stopped by throughout the day. At the picnic, I provide food, carnival games, a dunk tank, bounce house, pie eating contests and much more.

Hosting this picnic is a great way to keep members excited during the Summer as well as reinforce a family atmosphere that can help create a bond between you and your members … AND it opens the door for prospective new students.

Water Gun Parents’ Night Out

I believe that we all, at one point or another, host Parents’ Nights Out throughout the year. With my Summer Parents’ Night Out, I make it water gun-themed. As you can suspect, the students go crazy over this. At Parents’ Night Out we play games, serve dinner (pizza and juice) and block off a section of the grass that is located behind my school to set up a safe zone for water gun wars.

Movie Night

For Movie Night, I reserve a local theater and invite all of my students to spend an afternoon to watch an age-appropriate movie and to enjoy some popcorn and snacks. Movie Night is also a great way to market your school because, not only can you set up a booth and banner at the movie theater, you can also ask your students to wear your school shirt.

3. Attendance

Another great idea to help with retention is to give out attendance rewards to all of the students who were consistent during the summer months. Everyone likes feeling special and receiving awards, which gives the children an incentive to never miss a class during the summer. Winners of the attendance award are publicly praised during one of the fall belt exams.

4. Marketing

For the most part, I have been talking about tactics for retention, as that is one of the most important factors for staying successful during the Summer months. However, many of the events – picnic, buddy day, movie night, etc. – bring in a lot of referrals during these challenging months, which can turn into prospective new members.

From a marketing standpoint, I like to offer Summer sign-up specials to help draw in new members. You can offer a discounted price for the first month or two of training, include a free t-shirt or equipment set with registration or offer a free month of classes for any family member who is not currently signed up at your school.

These techniques helped make last summer our best one yet. I hope that you can take some of these ideas and use them – or modify them – to help you grow your school.

As always, success is in the preparation. Begin preparing today to have your best summer ever!

About the author: Master Peter Trikilas is the Owner and Chief Instructor at Master Peter’s Academy of Martial Arts (MPAMA) in Dayton, New Jersey. He has been training in martial arts since 1985 and opened his school, MPAMA, in 2011 — which has over 500 students to date.

What Everyone Ought to Know About Marketing Summer Camps

The start of your Summer camp may be months away, but promoting camp needs to happen now when families are planning their Summer activities. So what’s the quickest, most effective way to get the word out and bring in sign-ups?

Get with the (Software) Program

Today’s consumers are accustomed to making purchases online. Registration for your camp (or any event you hold) shouldn’t be treated any differently. You need to make being your customer easy. Online event registration software does that.

Using a program like Event Managerenables parents to sign their child up for camp and pay online using their tablet, laptop, desktop or phone — at any time they choose. If they want to register at 3 pm or 3 am, they can — quickly and easily. There are no paper registration forms to fill out. No checks to write. No stamps to buy. No envelopes to mail.

Parents click on your registration link, fill in their contact information and credit card information, click the “Register” button and they’re done.

Breaking Free

Registrants aren’t the only ones that benefit. Taking your sign-up process online will save you — and your staff — tons of time. Imagine no longer having to:

  • Create and print registration flyers and brochures
  • Open envelopes with handwritten forms and checks
  • Mail out brochures and pay for postage
  • Re-enter registration info into a spreadsheet
  • Decipher illegible handwriting on paper registration forms
  • Collect payments in person
  • Make trips to the bank to deposit cash and checks
  • Manage and store stacks of paper registration forms, permission slips and rosters

Sounds good, right?

Mere Minutes is All It Takes

Setting up a registration page in Event Manager can be done in 20 minutes or less. Even better, you can accept payments online immediately that very same day. No merchant account is required to use Event Manager.

Payments are processed through the Member Solutions’ Level One PCI-compliant payment processing platform. Level One is the most rigorous industry-recognized payment card security standard available. Knowing this you can rest assured all payment data entered in Event Manager is secure.

Once in the Event Manager program, you simply enter your camp name, beginning and end date, start and end times, and your camp fee.

You’ll also add an event description for your camp that appears above the form section of your registration page. Keep the description brief but benefit-rich. Answer the question on parents’ minds:

“What’s in it for me or for my child? Will extended child care be offered for those of us that work 9-5? What will my child learn? Will he or she master new Martial Arts skills? Partake in activities like crafts and games? Make new friends?”

Spread the Word

Each online registration page created in Event Manager has its own unique link. All you need to do is copy and paste the registration link into online marketing outlets to get the word out and you’ll begin to see registrations come in.

Post your link on Facebook, in emails, on your website, in Google Ads, in online directories. Post repeatedly on each channel up until the event date. Remember the more you promote your camp, the more impressions you make, the greater your event sign-ups and revenue.

Quick, Easy Tips to Boost Sign-Ups

It’s common practice in event marketing to offer special incentives that add value and encourage prospects to sign-up. Tools like Event Manager give you controls to easily manage incentives. For instance, you can:

1. Offer a payment plan. Since most camp registration fees can be substantial (anywhere from $199 to $600 per week), you may want to offer the option of paying in installments. This could be particularly attractive to cash-strapped families and help set your camp apart from others.

Event Manager gives you controls to set the number of payments, the required down payment and the last acceptable collection date.

2. Set an early-bird discount. People love getting in on a bargain. In Event Manager, you simply plug in the early-bird registration fee and the date you want to have it expire. The software will automatically update the registration page with your new price when the expiration date passes.

3. Offer a sibling/friend discount. Chances are good that parents will be signing up more than one child or they know someone who would be interested in attending camp with their child. You can encourage parents to register a family member or friend by offering a discount on multiple registrations. A common offer: “Register One Camper, Get Half Off the Second Registration”.

Again, Event Manager gives you controls to set discounts for multiple registrations. No matter which incentive(s) you employ, make sure you promote the options in your marketing so parents know about it.

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10 Ways to Boost Online Registrations (And Use Event Manager Software Like a Champ)

Woman using saved searches feature of Event Manager software to track registrations on laptop. Close view over shoulder of wooden desk with coffee.

The more registrations you get for your events, the more opportunity you create to grow your business, camp, sports league or organization.

But how do you get the ball rolling? How do you get more registrations for your events?

Online tools like Event Manager online registration software automate and organize event registration — and process and secure event payments. What you might not know is that the software also comes with a set of controls and features to drive demand and increase registrations.

So here’s a rundown. 10 ways to speed up online event registrations and use Event Manager software like a champ.

TIP #1: Activate social media networking buttons on your registration pages.

Nothing is more powerful than a recommendation or endorsement from a friend or colleague. By activating the Twitter and Facebook buttons on your Event Manager registration pages, you make it easy for your event to be shared with others.

How to do it: Go to the Admin tab and check the box next to Display social networking links on your forms.

TIP #2: Add an events listing link to your website.

Event Manager includes a registration homepage — or event listing — of all your active and publicly available registration pages. Include it on your website to show everyone what’s going on at your facility.

How to do it: Go to the Admin tab. Copy the link under the Website Integration section. Add the link to a page, or multiple pages, on your website. Active events can be viewed in a list, calendar and map format.


TIP #3: Send emails to past participants.
Your past participants are likely to attend other events you hold. And sending an email about your upcoming event is the most direct way to communicate.

Start by selecting your email list within Event Manager. The list can be as broad or as specific as you’d like. Say you run an annual tournament … you could choose to include all past tournament participants in your list or just last year’s. It’s your call.

Once the list is pulled, an email to the group can be sent through Event Manager.

How to do it: Go to the Reporting tab. Select a form or forms, click the OK button, then click the Update Registrant List button to generate the list.

Next, click the Email button, write your email and click the Send Email button as shown.

TIP #4: Drill down into your data.

What do your past registrants have in common? Are there business opportunities you’re missing?

The Reporting tab in Event Manager gives you the option to select on event forms and custom fields — specific data that you’ve collected on registrants such as age, location, T-shirt size. By diving deep into your data, you can identify trends and commonalities among your registrants. Then you can take the next step by sending targeted communications to those select groups.

How to do it: Go to the Reporting tab. Select your event forms and/or custom fields, click the OK button, then click the Update Registrant List button. From there, you can either download the list into Excel or email the group directly from Event Manager.

TIP #5: Set early-bird pricing with an expiration date.

A savings incentive tied to an expiration date is a great way to generate early sign-ups.

How to do it: Select a form. Go to the Pricing tab. Click Yes next to Is your pricing based on registration date?

Enter the cutoff date, then enter the event registration fee before your cutoff date and the event registration fee on or after your cutoff date.

TIP #6: Set up and distribute promo codes.

Sending a promo code to a select group of prospective registrants promotes exclusivity and will ultimately increase event registrations. In Event Manager, you have the option of creating dollar and/or percentage discount codes that registrants can apply when signing up for your event.

How to do it: Select a form. Go to the Pricing tab. Check the box next to Enable promotional code discounts? Enter a code, then enter a dollar or percentage discount as shown.

TIP #7: Set a seating capacity.

Scarcity increases demand and compels people to take action right away, rather than waiting. Put a limit on the number of spots available at your event — and communicate the limited availability in your marketing messages.

How to do it: Choose your event form within Event Manager. Go to the Advanced tab. Enter your seating limit next to Maximum form capacity. Once the limit is met, the registration form will close on its own.

TIP #8: Utilize the confirmation screen message and confirmation email to promote future events.

When an event registration is completed, a confirmation message appears on the screen, and a confirmation email is sent to the registrant. These are two ideal spots to highlight future events or membership specials.

How to do it: Select a form. Click on the Marketing tab. Click the Customize button next to Email Notification to update the confirmation email. Click the Customize button next to Registration Confirmation Screen to update the confirmation screen message.

TIP #9: Follow up on abandoned registrations.

You’re in the process of ordering a product online. Your phone rings. You get distracted. You don’t complete the order. It’s a common occurrence.

Event Manager gives you a tool to track pending and abandoned registrations, so you can reach out to prospects and members sooner, and turn them into event participants.

How to do it: Go to the Reporting tab. Select pending or abandoned in the Status dropdown box. Click the Update Registrant List button to generate the list.

TIP #10: Track what’s working so you can do more of it.

See a flurry of sign-ups once posting about your event on Facebook? Notice a group of registrations come in after sending your members an email?

Be sure of the source. In Event Manager, you can add tracking code to the link to know where each registration came from and what marketing channels are working.

How to do it: Before adding your registration link to a Facebook post, an email or on the web, add &ref_id=UNIQUE SOURCE NAME to the end of your Event Manager registration link. See example.

All registrations that come in from the link will be tagged accordingly with your source name in your Event Manager registration data.

Events strengthen retention, and at the same time, generate leads.

Apply these tips when using Event Manager to get your event seats filled — and create more opportunities for your business grow.

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