Are You Ready for 2024?

Since 2019, we’ve been on what seems like a roller coaster ride, from pandemic shutdowns and a surge in folks seeking company in the great outdoors to the great resignation, supply chain hiccups and more. Now that the major upheaval is receding in the rear-view mirror, what should parks and recreation leaders consider?

“Parks and recreation (P&R) departments have had their fair share of challenges, especially since the pandemic hit, but as return to office mandates increase and people start spending more time away from their local communities to commute to offices, these roadblocks are beginning to look different than before,” said Brian Stapleton, general manager of Recreation Management at CivicPlus, a modern civic experience platform.

“In 2024, P&R departments will need to keep up with constant innovation in a post-pandemic world and learn how to do more with less, amid ongoing challenges with attracting new staff,” he explained. “This is where technology and vendors come in. Moving into 2024, I believe that P&R departments will have to put a stronger focus on finding the right solutions and partners to help them work around their talent shortages, without overcomplicating their current processes and operations. These vendors will need to deeply understand their needs and help them implement technology to not only see internal benefits, but external.”

Have you adapted your offerings as the demographics and lifestyles of your community members have changed? Now is a good time to think about what your community members are looking for.

“When it comes to engagement with their local communities—this also looks different,” Stapleton said. “This will first start with understanding the needs of their communities. Not every engagement strategy will look the same. A lot of P&R departments have offered the same programming for the last decade and beyond. However, community needs and preferences have changed significantly, even in the last two years, resulting in less than ideal, stagnant business operations. Going into the new year, departments can partner with vendors to collect purposeful data to assess and strengthen their community engagement efforts and attract more residents to local parks. 

“The time is now for P&R departments to begin thinking like businesses and do more to ensure they’re acting as a resource for their communities. 2024 should be full of strategy, innovation and change for these up-and-coming departments.”