There's an App for that, Or There Should Be

Millennials expect information that is fast and easy. Find out the top three reasons why having a Rec Center mobile app can help you keep up.

Technology has become integrated into our daily activities. Whether its for information, entertainment or social engagement millennials are glued to their phone screens. In fact, a preliminary research study found young adults spend about one-third of their day on their cell phones. So what does that mean for Rec Centers?

Students are preoccupied. Instead of walking around campus looking at posters and announcements, millennials' attention is focused on their phones. They do not want to search for information and expect timely updates to be available in the palm of their hand. Therefore websites, let alone posters, banners and other forms of traditional advertisements, are viewed as outdated and have become virtually invisible to millennials. A recent study found 84 percent of Millennials don't like traditional advertising nor do they trust it.

Now Rec Centers are not only faced with the challenge of creating programs and events to get students in the door, but have the added obstacle of adapting its messages to reach millennials.

After seeing the popularity of social media platforms skyrocket, marketers have found a way to take advantage and turn this threat for attention into a tool with the development of smartphone applications. In June of 2016 , Apple's App Store reported having two million apps and Android, 2.2 million.

Considered the social media generation: millennials have become accustomed to constant social engagement and find comfort in community atmospheres. In fact , 46% of millennials participate in community based fitness courses and are more likely to bring a fitness partner or small group. This provides REC Centers with a unique opportunity!

If Rec Centers are able to adapt to students' instantaneous culture and find a way to update students on events, tournaments, classes and other fast and easy information, students will respond. The easiest and most effective way to do so? Use an app.

Here are the top three reasons why your Rec Center needs its own mobile app.

1) Don't be invisible, establish a digital presence.

Well, you could print flyers promoting your upcoming event and hope someone sees it. You could post an advertisement for it in the school paper, wait for it to be submitted, printed and distributed, but both take time and energy that you could be putting into the actual event.

So what's a Rec Center to do?

With over 85% of millennials owning a smartphone, spending over 90 hours a month on their phone using apps and 59% claiming that they use social media to find information - there really is no reason to resort to outdated ways to reach your target student audience.

Join the movement, get an app!

Students do not want to be bothered with navigating through browsers for information. Apps provide Rec Centers with visibility and students with the convenience and easy access to information. This direct route for information sets applications apart from social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter where you are competing with cat videos for students' attention. These mediums have too much noise in them for your Rec Center's voice to be heard.

An app provides you with a direct, effective and efficient line of communication to motivate students to engage in Rec Center programs.

2) Communication is key.

Did you know that 67% of students report that campus recreation programs influenced their decisions to continue attending their chosen college/university? That is why creating early communication to build a relationship is crucial. When a freshmen enters your school they are most likely experiencing their first phase of “freedom". This can be healthy for some, but detrimental for others. By providing students with a fun and social environment, they are bound to meet like-minded individuals and make friends. This sense of community will have your students not just coming back the Rec Center, but remaining at that university for the next four years.

The issue now becomes how can you reach all your students while keeping it personal and making sure they don't skim past it like every other email?

Features such as push notifications, live alerts and updates allow Rec Centers to reach a mass of students with just one message. Instead of being another catchy subject line in their inbox, push notifications engage students on a more personal level since they are sent directly to their phones.

These outlets help streamline communication and inform students of:

  • Group class schedules & their unexpected changes
  • New programs and upcoming events
  • Alerts for adjusted Holiday hours
  • And more!

While emails may offer similar benefits, they require more work from staff and are less effective. Flooded inboxes have become an issue for establishing clear and effective communication with students. Students do not look at their emails or even worse, discard them before even opening it - making your message wasted energy.

So why not make it easier on yourself by getting rid of all the email contact lists and the hassle that comes along with updating and maintaining it every semester? Reach all your students with a single push!

3) Check out your options.

Ok, ok I know what you are thinking. I already have a website. Is an app really worth it?

Colleges and universities seem to think so. In 2014, Campus Computing Survey found that 83% of participating campuses had developed and released a mobile app, which was a 23% increase from 2012.

If you are creating it from scratch, software development companies will charge upwards of $100,000 to create a personalized app AND this does not include the upkeep and routine updates that are required. Just like anything else, apps also take a while to work out all the kinks causing your students more frustration than it is worth.

So how do you get the benefits of an app without creating your own?

Apps like Mindbody, Fitocracy, and fitDEGREE give you the ability to create an effective digital presence without the headache that comes along with managing yet another project. Fitness apps like these allow organizations to sign up for low monthly fees and provide students an incredible digital experience. Now you have “your own" Rec Center mobile app without any of the hassle!

Mindbody allows users to find classes based on category (i.e. fitness, wellness, etc.). As a result your Rec Center is put on a list with nearby competitors and who wants that?

Fitocracy allows users to track their workout routine and share it with their fitness friends. However, it does not allow students to view and pre-register for classes.

fitDEGREE allows your Rec Center to have its own page on the app, eliminating the chance of viewing nearby competition. By keeping the focus on your Rec Center, students can view live occupancy levels, pre register for group classes, connect with one another on a fitness based news feed and receive updates of upcoming events all within 3 clicks!

The conclusion is...

We understand that running a Rec Center takes a lot of work and requires the ability to wear multiple hats. Don't add to the collection.

Choosing a third party for your Rec Center mobile app takes away unnecessary stress and added costs. Investing in a mobile app offers a way for you to stay relevant, increase student engagement, streamline communication and as a result, get more students involved!

For more information on creating your very own REC Center page, visit and start engaging students today!