Paid Trials: A Family Activity Organiser's Guide
Why should you consider paid trials? Are they effective? And how much should you charge for a trial class?
What are paid trials?
Paid trials are a convenient way for families to try a single session of a termly class without the immediate commitment of paying upfront for the full term. Like at a free trial, a family can experience the class, and make sure that it’s right for them before making a longer-term commitment.
However, unlike free trials, paid trials ensure that you still get paid for your time while still providing the comfort some parents seek before enrolling in a full term activity. When considering the pros and cons of paid trials, it’s worth considering them in relation to free trials which have similar advantages and disadvantages.
How common are paid trials?
Just over a third of termly class providers offer a paid trial option - this is slightly more popular than free trials (22%). Paid trials are fairly equal in popularity across all activity categories.
Class Providers Offering Paid Trials
35.6% of class providers offer paid trials. The remaining 64.4% offer either free trials or no trial at all. Typically, when activity organisers don’t use trials, they have another flexible pricing option available. Read more about different kinds of pricing models here.
Should you be offering paid trials?
Paid trials are most popular with activities that have an ongoing termly commitment or a higher upfront cost that parents may be otherwise uncomfortable committing to. It is generally recommended that you limit paid trials to one session per child, to avoid families treating paid trials as a single session alternative.
Some things to consider:
Reduced price paid trials
One approach to paid trials is to offer a discounted paid trial, where you charge less than a standard class price, to attract more families to your class trials.
For example, if you run a ten week term that costs £100, you might offer a trial session for £5. This way, parents feel like they are getting a deal, you still get paid for your time, and there’s a cost which may filter out less committed families.
Lower risk of no shows
A no-show is when a family fails to turn up, without getting in touch to cancel the session or rearrange for another time. With free trials, this is always a risk as there’s little downside for families who decide not to attend at the last minute - but paid trials mean that family has financially committed, and are more likely to attend than to waste their money.
Your conversion rate is important
The success of your free trials will be decided by your conversion rate (the percentage of customers that do a free trial and go on to book after attending the trial)
The higher your conversion rate, the more new customers you’ll generate from free trials.
Figuring out your conversion rate
Keep a record of how many people take a paid trial and how many of them go on to become a customer. This will help you work out your conversion rate and plan how many trial spots you need to offer to result in a new customer.
For example, if you get one customer who books the full term out of every five who attend a paid trial, your conversion rate is 20%. To fill ten new spots in a class, you’ll need to offer fifty paid trials. You’ll also have the revenue for from the trial sessions of the four customers who didn’t go on to book.
How much should you charge for a paid trial?
There’s a few simple things to bear in mind when setting the price for your paid trial. Start off by considering how much a term or block of your classes costs per session. For example, 10 classes for £100 would be £10 per class. You can then either choose to charge the same, more than or less than the equivalent single session price for the amount of session in your trial.
Charging a price equivalent to a single session makes sure you’re reimbursed proportionately for the spot that you open up for a free trial customer - avoiding any lost potential revenue. It also has the advantage of being easy to understand as a price point for a new customer.
Attempting to charge more than the apportioned cost may deter many families - but, if your equivalent single session price is relatively low, it ensures you attract committed families to your trials. On the other hand, setting the price lower than a single session is an effective way to attract potential customers, without doing free trials.
One thing to consider whatever price you choose is whether or not you’ll offer to redeem the cost against the price of a full term if they go on to book.
Read more about charging for your classes here.
Paid Trials: Weighing up the pros & cons
Allows families to try your class while ensuring that you still get paid for your time.
Parents that pay for a trial are likely to be more committed to booking a full term.
Attracts families that might not consider your class without the option to trial it.
A trial does not guarantee that a family will book a full term, so you’ll need to invest time following up with families to secure a booking.
Requires some logistical considerations to leave spaces in your class for families who want to do a paid trial
Can result in some disruption as new children may be joining the class mid-term for their trial.