No matter what industry you're in or company you're working for, tracking and improving event attendance is a metric of success.
At senior centers, high attendance levels at events can demonstrate engagement of members and residents, as well as make it easier to determine what events your members are enjoying and which may not be their favorites.
That’s why it's important to track attendance at your senior center activities, no matter what type of event you are hosting, whether it be in person, virtual, or hybrid.
At Televeda, one of the most important things we do is track our attendance metrics, analyze the data, and inform our Community Partners about the classes they offer and what improvements can be made or successes have been noted.
As a community engagement platform, we don't just provide classes or ways to improve engagement (though that is part of it). Data and tracking attendance at senior center activities is the key behind success in this field.
Why do you need to be tracking attendance at your senior center?
If you are run or funded by any government agency, these metrics can be required for regulatory or funding purposes. Non-profit may also need to show these data reports for grant applications.
Senior center evaluations include activity and attendance metrics, so keeping this data up-to-date is important.
This will help you improve operational efficiencies by determining which classes and instructors work best for your residents, and which you shouldn’t spend time on.
If you host a class that almost no one attends, it most likely does not make sense to pay an instructor for their time and energy, while you could find a new class or instructor that your residents will enjoy.
Knowing how many members you have attending your classes can open up the potential for specific sponsorships, and increased memberships at your senior center.
For example, if you have a ton of members at your events, organizations might be more willing to offer their services for free in order to get their programming in front of your community, sort of like “senior center advertising.”
It can also help you determine how successful an event might be that you charge for in the future. These events could essentially become a marketing tool for your senior center.
With so many activities options for people to choose from, the best seniors centers have a tight feedback loop with their users through tracking what works and what needs improvement.
Currently, most attendance tracking is done manually. Many senior center activities either have lobby check-ins before the event, or instructors or staff counting the members throughout the session.
Then, you’ll most likely have to manually insert these numbers into a computer system (if you’re analyzing them on your own) or into a specific senior center software.
Some centers might have digital tracking if they're selling tickets or requiring RSVPs for specific events, but often those numbers aren’t integrated with other data.
While there is some senior center software you can use by manually inputting the details and then receiving analysis, these attendance softwares are still designed for an in-person world, because there aren’t currently many options for tracking attendance online.
For in-person events, which have been impacted by social distancing and shut down due to COVID-19, your senior center is going to need to use your staff or instructors to manually take attendance at these events.
Whether or not you use sign-up sheets in the beginning, or have staff in the room and marking attendance that way, you’ll still need to input this information into some sort of digital tracking later.
The best bet is having your staff use iPads, smart phones, or laptops to input the data right into whatever software you’re using to track your senior center activities. This might be Excel, or Google Sheets, or a senior center attendance software.
Either way, you’ll be spending a significant amount of time and resources to manually check on your members at each of your events, and if you have multiple events a day with lots of members, this time can add up!
Depending on the size of your senior center facility, attendance and registration processes can take from 3-8 hrs on the low end to up to 15-25 hrs on the high end, if you have very large events and a large community.
Online and hybrid classes also add to the complexity of attendance tracking and data tracking at senior center activities.
When hosting online classes, you might be tempted to turn to Zoom or Facebook. However, these platforms are not a class management or data analytic software.
Though Zoom provides a list of attendees at your meeting, you'll still have to manually note those members that have attended in your own tracking software. Facebook can show you likes and comments, and though that might give you a general idea of the level of engagement, those are not overly helpful metrics for recreational managers at senior centers.
Plus, there is little way to link those metrics back to other data points like feedback surveys, registrations levels, and more. This is because though they can track numbers, it’s not necessarily showing the changes over time to event attendance. There are no conclusive charts or graphs to see what is working and not, the ROI of your events, and how to improve.
Televeda’s automated data reporting measures every interaction. Our studies and internal audits have seen senior recreational centers saving between 15-25 hours of staff time every month and $2500-4000 in costs when using our platform.
The manual work of taking attendance and inputting attendance become automated, and staff has more time to focus on community engagement and higher-order functions.
Plus, we take away the need for technical knowledge by analyzing the data and providing these reports for our community partners. We've been told that's one of their favorite parts of working with us! They outsource the work (to us!) so they can spend more time on what matters (their members)!
Even with social distancing policies and COVID health regulations hopefully lowering in the future months, virtual activities are not going to go away. This is why hybrid events are the best option for the future of senior center activities in 2021 and beyond.
Hybrid events are those that are held both in person AND virtually at the same time. For example, your chair yoga class members can attend in person, or they can watch the live stream from their homes or rooms if they can’t get a ride to your senior center that day.
This means you’ll be tracking attendance both online and in-person. Again, you can do this manually as discussed above, or automatically using a virtual event platform (like Televeda) or attendance software (like Perfect Mind).
As an end-to-end solution, Televeda works very well with in-person activities, and creates reports automatically. So if you’re using a software attendance to like Perfect Mind, you can still work with our platform to fast-track your attendance metric analytics and make improvements.
Hybrid events allow you to expand your reach and attendance potential, and you can even sell tickets to these events.
There are several metrics to look at when tracking your attendance and creating data reports for all of your senior center activities.
This can broadly tell you what classes are working and what classes are not working. But, make sure to look at the big picture and experiment with several variables.
For example, is that yoga class not doing well because it’s yoga, or because it’s at 8 am on a Monday? Here, you’re going to need to look at content, class times and days, and even instructors to find the perfect balance of what works.
One of our community partners, Chandler, wasn’t recognized as one of the top 10 Digital Cities Survey award recipients, by the Center for Digital Government, for no reason! They used our data reports and discussions to adjust the times of their yoga classes so they would see more attendance, and they noted that was one of their favorite parts of working with us: getting the knowledge they need to make changes!
This includes how long someone is in class, and how interactive they are. Our data reports include the exact number of minutes a member attended class, and our instructors make sure to note how engaged each member is, and how to increase their engagement in future classes.
Numbers are one thing, but the actual people attending the classes is another. If Robert used to attend a class one a week, and he hasn’t been back in a few weeks, then what’s going on there?
At Televeda, we track our members to see if they start dropping off, and reach out to make sure they’re not only happy with our platform, but are doing okay.
How many of your senior centers member attended one class and never returned? This “churn rate” can show you how well liked and engaging your program offerings are overall, and personal attention to these members is likely to help here.
Asking for feedback is a great way to help figure out what could be missing from your activity calendar, or why you’re seeing some users not return. This is why we built automatic surveys into the end of our classes, so we can see the positives (or improvements) of our classes.
No matter what type of activities you have planned for your senior center this year, data tracking and attendance is key for success. Being able to see what you’re doing wrong (and right) is what can create massive improvements in your senior center activity attendance.