Block Booking: A Guide for Family Activity Providers

Should you consider offering parents a block booking option? Or go with flexi passes instead? How’s it different to a term booking?

What is block booking?

Block booking allows parents to book a set number of consecutive sessions of an activity. For example, you might allow a parent to pre-book five sessions at a time. Unlike with a term booking, they can do this at any point in the run of classes.

Tin Pan Annie  uses blocks of five sessions (alongside  full term bookings  and  single sessions ) for her music and singing classes in South West London. Block bookings mean more families commit to a larger booking and keeps classes full, while still offering some flexibility about when in the term they join.

Tin Pan Annie uses blocks of five sessions (alongside full term bookings and single sessions) for her music and singing classes in South West London. Block bookings mean more families commit to a larger booking and keeps classes full, while still offering some flexibility about when in the term they join.

Why do parents like it?

Block bookings enable families to reserve a space over multiple sessions, so they don’t need to worry about their child missing a session of a favourite activity.

What kinds of activity offer block booking?

Block booking is most common with activity organisers who run classes regularly, so families are able to use all of their block whenever they purchase it. It’s also more common in younger age groups, where families are less likely to follow the rigid structure of the school term.

It’s worth noting that block bookings do not require a parent to commit beyond the set number of sessions, so it’s more suitable for activities where the child does not need to attend all the sessions in a term - like a music class for under fives, or art activities.

 

How much should you charge for block bookings?

How much you charge varies a lot depending on where in the country you are, the ages of the children and the kind of activity you offer - as well as how many sessions are in a block. Below are some average prices for block bookings.

If you also offer single session prices, it’s also worth considering how the price of a single session relates to a block. To incentivise families to make bigger bookings, you may want to make it cheaper to purchase a block. For example, you may charge £5 for a single session, but only £20 for a block of five - so families will essentially get one free session by booking more.

 

Some things to consider:

 

1

The number sessions in a block

Depending upon the content of your classes, and how long your term lasts, you may decide whether you split your term into two parts and offer block booking for half a term, or whether a parent can start a block booking at any point during a term.

Most activity providers offer block booking for XX sessions, but you could explore reducing the commitment to as little as three bookings or increasing it to 15. Ultimately, block bookings are a way to guarantee repeat sessions from customers, while offering a parents a level of flexibility.

 
 

2

Block booking or flexi passes?

Block booking contrasts to a flexi pass, where sessions don’t have to be consecutive. Flexi passes which provides greater freedom for parents, but can present challenges for activity providers managing the open inventory.

With a block booking, you can manage the number of spots available in your class and your marketing expenses with greater certainty, while still providing the freedom for parents to attend your class without the worry of having to pay for a full term upfront.

 
 

3

Offering a discount for block bookings

Family activity organisers who offer single pricing and block booking, it’s common to offer a block of sessions at a slightly discounted rate to give families an incentive to make a bigger booking. For example, you may offer single sessions at £10 per session, or a block of 10 for £95 - so families who book ten get one session half price.

 

Block bookings: the pros & cons

Pros

  • Offers the flexibility for families to attend your classes without having to pay upfront for a full term.

  • Helps with cash flow management as parents pay upfront for multiple sessions, rather than at every single session.

  • Compared to flexi passes, block bookings make it easier to manage who is attending your class each week

Cons

  • If you have a popular or oversubscribed class, prevents you from getting a full term payment from parents upfront.

  • Depending on how your classes are structured, prevents families from immediately starting your class.

 

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