New Ways to Manage Outdoor Recreation

July 26, 2021 by Meredith Trimble

New Ways to Manage Outdoor Recreation

During the height of the coronavirus pandemic, nature provided a safe space for activities and recreation. Individuals and families flocked to the outdoors in record numbers over the last 18 months. Even with indoor entertainment and leisure options returning, outdoor recreation activities continue to see record numbers. Diversity of participants has increased, too, with outdoor recreation use spanning all incomes, ages, backgrounds, and geographies.

Hunting and fishing licenses, for example, have increased by double digits with park visits seeing an uptick like never before, according to data from YourPassNow and NIC hunting and fishing states.

This is precisely what outdoor advocates have wanted for decades, yet such a surge is not without implications. The pressures on outdoor management are growing right along with the crowds.

Fortunately, technology that facilitates digital park management is easy and quick to implement.

Digital Passes and Permits

Digital passes and permits are key to efficient internal management and improved customer experience. They create a low-risk user experience while eliminating the frustration of waiting in line. They also reduce administrative tasks for employees, allowing more time for visitor engagement. With digital payments, jurisdictions and their constituents can enjoy streamlined and comprehensive digital park management.

State and national parks are already benefiting from this approach. Parks offering entrance passes see more than 10% of visitors making online advance purchases. Those with timed entry permits often sell out in the first 10 minutes of online availability.

In 2020, for example, Maryland sold 211,000 digital passes across more than 70 state and federal properties. At the popular Kilgore Falls , 58% of those digital entry passes were purchased after hours, and 79% were bought on a mobile device with an overall user satisfaction rate of 99%.

Maintaining Momentum

As concert venues, indoor arenas, and other activities resume normal capacity, governments at all levels would be wise to focus on retaining the exciting momentum in outdoor recreation. A 2018-2020 citizen survey conducted by the University of Utah and the Governing Institute along with NIC showed 71% of citizens nationwide are asking for simplified, consolidated access to outdoor recreation services. The use of modern technology and a centralized, digital outdoor recreation hub can give citizens what they want.

Adding activity passes to help with advance reservations for picnic shelters, fire pits, boat launches, or other booking can further elevate service.

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