It might be an area of the kids activities industry you wouldn’t have thought of actually being affected but with the majority of online directories receiving most of their income from commission on bookings made by parents on their websites or apps, online directories have been hit hard during lockdown with some even sadly closing down.
Online Directories have had to adapt to support children’s activity providers, paying their developers to create an online classes category on their websites and apps, making sure that parents can find the online classes listings no matter where they search in the UK. Then spending time understanding how the new system works and how best to advertise the types of online classes listings to the wider audience. For example Club Hub only did targeted marketing based on proximity so providers reached the people they wanted but now we had to look on how to target parents all over the UK to book onto the online classes.
The search volumes on google trends for everything related to kids clubs/activities had fallen dramatically. Meaning online directories had also spent money asking their developers to divert to COVID related terms to try and keep their website views up as much as possible. With little income and huge outcomes the future of online directories is very uncertain just like kids clubs, baby groups and soft play centres.
At the moment signing up to their advertising platforms is completely free. If online directories are to survive, many of them might turn to a subscription basis if they can show their users they are creating bookings and awareness for them. Steering away from commission from bookings and asking providers to pay an annual fee to be part of their service. This will probably narrow down the amount of online directories children’s activity providers will want to be part of. At the moment they might be part of more than five business directories but this might now change to only being part of two or three. Children’s activity providers will have to look into exactly how each one works, how popular it is with the amount of other children’s activities providers that are part of it and the statistics on the amount of reach it has on parents in their area of the U.K.
If online directories are only for specific parts of the UK they might now branch out and be available for the whole of the U.K so if children’s activity providers are interested in certain online directories which are not currently in their area yet they should sign up to their newsletters to keep up to date with all their latest news and updates. This also makes them aware of the offers and discounts they regularly offer children’s activity providers, especially in times such as COVID.
Online directories could create different advertising opportunities such as social media packages, franchise opportunities or blog articles, creating more specific opportunities for children’s activity providers to advertise what they want.
As a provider myself I have also had the drive to try and support children’s activity providers as much as I possibly can during lockdown. Creating social media posts that people are likely to share to improve the awareness of the kids activities industry. Reminding parents of the little things that can make such a huge difference, giving reviews on Facebook and google, sharing social media posts, spreading the word to their friends and family about the kids clubs that they are part of. So online directories might start petitions on certain topics such as “Issue urgent guidance and voucher scheme to save baby & toddler activity sector” (created by Happity), helping to improve the kids activities industry as a whole. We should all work together and I know that I’m always available for a phone conversation as I’m sure many of the other online directories are too.
Author: Tessa Robinson, ClubHub UK
Tessa is the multi-award winning Founder of Club Hub; an online directory that now receives over 80,000 views every month and has over 22,000 Kids Clubs and Children’s Activities registered offering toddler activities, indoor kids activities, kids events, indoor play areas and kids activity boxes available to order online.