The impact on online activity directories

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.

By becoming a member of ICAP you’re joining a community of like-minded professionals and business owners in the children’s activity sector working towards excellence

Pip Wilkins

Pip Wilkins is the Chief Executive of the British Franchise Association (bfa). With 25 years’ experience in the franchise sector, Pip has worked her way up within the Association, gaining insight from all areas of the business and the franchise industry. She is well-known and highly regarded in franchising for her dedication and depth of knowledge. Pip regularly speaks at conferences and seminars both domestically and internationally, as well as writing on franchising matters for national, local and franchising trade press. Pip is also a regular judge for the annual bfa HSBC Franchise Awards, the Franchise Marketing Awards and Global Franchise Awards. Pip represents the UK at both the European Franchise Federation (EFF) and World Franchise Council (WFC). The bfa has grown to be one of the largest franchise associations in Europe, and one of the most successful associations in the world.

Theo Millward

Theo Millward is a graduate of Lancaster University with a BBA in Management. In 2016 Theo purchased UK swim school, Swimtime from the founders which teaches 20,000 children a week. Following a multi-award- winning digital transformation, during the global pandemic, Theo and his team founded Franscape, a saas that digitally transforms Franchise brands. FranScape won New Business of the Year at the UK Business Awards.

Andy Georgiou

Andy is the Founder of ICAP and a leading UK Franchise Business Consultant. He is fiercely committed to helping children’s activity providers build successful and profitable businesses. With qualifications in Business Management, Digital Media and Marketing, he has helped build, advise and grow leading 6 and 7 fiqure children’s education, sports and activity brands in the past 17 years.

Frank Sahlein

Frank has been active in the Children’s Activity Center industry as an athlete, coach, business owner, consultant and business broker. He is a native of San Mateo, California and graduated from San Jose State University in California (USA).
Frank was a pioneer of the Children’s Learning Opportunity Center concept from 1976 – 2016 at the Wings Center in Boise, Idaho (USA) – a blend of Sports Instruction, Arts, Education, Entertainment and Outreach programs.
As a business management innovator, Frank has delivered over 1,000 presentations for a variety of Children’s Activity Center industries such as gymnastics, swimming, cheerleading, dance, martial arts/ninja and child care/education.
3rd Level Consulting is a Business Development and Service Provider Partner for private industry companies, associations, and organizations in the USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Mexico, and Panama.
Two-time recipient of the National Business Leader Award from USA Gymnastics, Frank is the author of “Building Your Business Potential” and “Designing Your Empowered Life”. He is the creator of the SmartEDGE™ Business Applications and Management Certification Courses. He is the co-founder of LEAP Learning and the MetaSpheres Corp, and is the founder and Executive Director of the International Association of Child Development Programs.
His passions include his beautiful wife Lourdes Gonzalez, family, friends, fitness training, transformational reading and travel.