Success Story: Pekin Park District

Leveraging Amilia's 24/7 support and smooth user experience.

Pallavi Borkar
Pallavi Borkar
November 25, 2020 2 min read

Pekin Park District (PPD) is one of the largest park districts in Illinois, in terms of area, spanning 2,275 acres including 17 parks, 2 golf courses, an ice arena, a fitness center, numerous hiking trails, and more. PPD offers 150 activities and programs to its community of a little over 33,000 in Central Illinois. Their mission is "to improve quality of life for the district's residents by providing both active and passive recreational opportunities in recreational facilities, parks and areas".

Identifying the problem

PPD already offered its community the ability to register for programs and activities online but it was proving to be tricky. While the payment and checkout experience was good enough, the problem was finding the right activities. PPD would receive at least one complaint every day from residents who simply could not find what they were looking for. The activity was in a long list which did not include activity details, and residents would often accidentally register for the wrong one.

The poor user experience also affected PPD staff who had grown accustomed to spending a whole week just to set up all the programs in the previous software through a complex process involving too many steps and not enough supporting information. To make matters worse, the software provider’s support was dismal and PPD staff would often have to leave messages and wait for a response.

“There was no knowing when the support person would get back to us – they were not very good at returning calls. It would become very stressful when we needed urgent help especially when it came to questions about a transaction.”

– Shawn Powers, Superintendent of Recreation

Starting afresh with SmartRec by Amilia

When it was time to change, PPD knew that they needed a software partner with a responsive support system that was quick and reliable to help them deliver a smooth online user experience for both residents and staff. PPD already had a good professional relationship with SmartRec, having successfully worked with us on a previous Cost Recovery project.

“Our experience on the Cost Recovery project, the sense of familiarity, and the time and research the SmartRec team spent going through everything and answering our questions really showed us what to expect and helped seal the deal.”

– Shawn Powers, Superintendent of Recreation

Smooth user experience for residents and staff

In addition to a positive online registration experience, PPD was looking for a solution that would streamline facility booking and scheduling since the PPD Recreation Department shares its facilities with the Special Recreation Association (SRA) that serves individuals with disabilities.

With SmartRec, PPD was able to integrate the facilities’ calendars in the back office with automated, real-time syncing so that the two organizations could access and update their activities to avoid conflicts. Additionally, separate schedules and information would be displayed on each individual website, preventing PPD customers from viewing SRA activities and vice versa so that they didn’t accidentally register for the wrong one.

PPD was also able to set up categories and filters in their online store and preview everything before setting it live, something they couldn’t do earlier, to further ensure that residents could find what they were looking for quickly and easily.

Pekin success story in numbers

Access to responsive support and resources

Following their previous experience, being able to rely on support was a deal breaker for PPD. With SmartRec, not only did PPD get a dedicated Customer Success Manager but also access to 24/7 online support. With weekly calls scheduled ahead of time, the PPD staff is able to troubleshoot and fix issues before they become glaring problems.

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“Between the personal support, the knowledge base and other resources, we’ve had everything we needed to get going and even figure some things out on our own because it’s so easy to use.”

– Shawn Powers, Superintendent of Recreation

Additionally, PPD was able to leverage SmartRec’s launch package to plan a smooth transition in their community. They shared SmartRec’s templates and visual guides on their website and Facebook page to let the residents know what to expect and how to switch in advance so that by the time they launched on October 1st, they simply sat back, relaxed, and watched the registrations roll in.