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Case Studies

Case Study: How Calvert County Revolutionized Recreation Management with Xplor Recreation

Header image for Calvert Countys case study about their experience switching recreation management software partners

Their Background

Located in Maryland, Calvert County boasts a population of over 94,000 residents, offering over 2,000 recreation programs throughout the year and over a dozen facilities that enrich the lives of its community members daily. Their Parks and Recreation department is powered by 250-300 passionate staff members depending on seasonality.

Despite having relied on their existing recreation management software since the 1990s, mounting frustrations forced the Calvert County team to seek a new provider to better support both their staff and community members.

Ken Guyers, Calvert County’s Recreation Systems Analyst, brings over 11 years of experience in parks and recreation, having served in various capacities from front desk agent to program coordinator to database manager.

With nine years of familiarity with Calvert County’s previous software provider, Ken spearheaded the transition as the systems database analyst, overseeing implementation, training, database management, and staff training.

Ken Guyers headshot image for Calvert County case study

Featured Quote:

“[With our previous vendor], I’d reach out for help, and I would actually end up teaching their support agents how to do things. So, it was pretty clear we weren’t going to get anywhere with support tickets. One of the main things I love about partnering with Xplor Recreation is the support. I can always get a hold of someone when I need something, and I know it’ll get answered and addressed immediately!” - Ken Guyers - Calvert County

Their Challenges

Despite having used their previous rec management software for over 20 years, Calvert County reached a tipping point in 2021 as challenges with their vendor stacked up, impacting their staff and the level of service they could provide to their community members.

These issues became even more evident after the COVID19 pandemic when their software vendor made noticeable staffing cuts, and the level of service they provided was no longer tolerable – especially given how much they were paying in add-on fees for the basic functionality they expected from their software.

Key Challenges Included:


Increasingly Ineffective Customer Support:

Their previous software provider’s support levels had never been anything to write home about, but things got noticeably worse when their vendor made staffing cuts because of the COVID19 pandemic. Support tickets became a pointless endeavor, and this lack of service was a big deciding factor in Calvert County’s decision to explore other options.

"I wasn’t at Calvert County when the decision was made to start looking for a new platform, but I know that the team had a lot of issues with support and that was one of the biggest drivers for the change. I was working at a different agency at the time, but I was in the same boat. There was a lot of turnover in support staff during the pandemic. I’d reach out for help, and I would actually end up teaching their support agents how to do pretty basic things. So, it was pretty clear we weren’t going to get anywhere with support tickets."


Add-On Fees for Basic Functionality:

Another key reason for leaving their previous software provider was that the costs became unmanageable. They were being charged add-on fees for the basic modules they needed to support their community members and manage their operations, and the expenses kept stacking up.

"The cost was another big factor. With [our previous vendor], you had to pay extra anytime you wanted to use another module. Your activities, your facility rentals, pass memberships... all of these came with separate add-on fees. Even offering your services online came with an extra cost. It ended up getting to the point that Calvert County couldn’t do what was needed without going broke."


Software Usability Issues for Staff:

Managing day-to-day tasks on their previous platform was no walk in the park and posed a lot of challenges for the Calvert County staff.  Its complexity, unintuitive workflows, and functional limitations created a lot of extra work for them on a daily-basis.

"With [our previous software], it was as if you need to know how a programmer’s brain works to do basic things. Having worked in it for 9 years at different agencies, I was able to eventually figure things out and get by, but training new staff... I’d be telling them to take a deep breath and calm down before we’d get into training!"


Undesirable User Experience for Customers:

The Calvert County staff weren’t the only ones fed up with their sub-par rec management software – their community members were too. The customer-facing online experience that the county was paying extra fees for was just as complicated, and unintuitive as the staff experience. Customers' challenges with self-servicing their needs led them to registering in-person or over the phone, putting additional strain on the Calvert County team.

"Another challenge leading to the change was the unintuitive online registration experience for our community members looking to self-service their needs. Personally, I can make sense of [their online self-service module] because I’ve used it every day for many years, but our community members clearly couldn’t. The front desk staff at Calvert County would constantly get calls from customers complaining about the online registration experience. They would just get frustrated with it, give up, and call in to register over the phone."

After many years of increasingly ineffective support, stacking costs, and usability issues for staff and customers, the Calvert County team decided they had had enough, and started their hunt for a new recreation management software partner.

Their Solution

Fortunately, Calvert County’s challenges led them to greener pastures. In their hunt for a new recreation management platform, they were looking for a solution that:

  • Provides the fast, reliable, and effective support they expect and deserve
  • Offers all the functionality they need at a reasonable cost (without additional or hidden fees)
  • Is intuitively built and easy-to-use, making life easier for their staff and providing a better experience to their community members

After evaluating several platforms, they found exactly what they were looking for and decided to partner with Xplor Recreation for their parks and recreation software needs.

Xplor Recreation case study book a demo graphic

Their Results

As the newly appointed System Database Manager, the stakes were high for Ken. He joined the Calvert County team right as the implementation process kicked off with Xplor Recreation, and their targeted go-live date was during one of their busiest swim registration periods of the year.

As if there wasn’t already enough riding on Ken’s shoulders, he also had to manage the expectations of internal staff members who had been using their previous platform for years and gotten used to navigating its complex interface.

"The first day of launching was really stressful for a lot of our staff, myself included. The timing worked out that we timed our go-live date with opening registration for one of our busiest registration periods of the year. It was literally sink or swim – pun intended. There was so much pressure on me and our staff for the launch, but things couldn’t have gone any better!”


Key Benefits Experienced:


Best-In-Class Support, 24/7, 365:

Unlike their previous provider, Xplor Recreation’s support team has continuously delivered its promises of providing fast, reliable, and helpful solutions to Calvert County’s inquiries.

"One of the main things I love about partnering with Xplor Recreation is the support. I can always get a hold of someone when I need something, and I know it’ll get answered and addressed immediately! I also love the client community where you can see what other agencies are doing. If I’m looking to investigate something, I can check out the online community and see how other agencies are doing things – not that it’s a difficult process to submit a ticket – but it gives me another path to quickly get answers to my questions before calling in.”


All the Software Features They Need Without Breaking the Bank:

Since moving to Xplor Recreation, the Calvert County team has been able to save significantly on their software fees, without compromising on the features they need, given Xplor Recreation’s non-modular pricing model. Even better, they are receiving improved software and service at a fraction of the cost!

"With our previous provider, we had to pay extra for all the basic things we needed to manage our operations. Xplor Recreation gives us a better platform and service, everything we need is included in the base subscription, and it costs us way less than [our previous software].”


Seamless Implementation and Transition Experience:

With so much riding on Ken’s shoulders for the launch of Xplor Recreation, he was very grateful for the thorough implementation process, the ongoing support from the Xplor Recreation implementation team, the platform’s easy-to-use interface, and the runway he was given to train his team in their test environment before their go-live date.

“I found the implementation team to be really thorough and patient with us. We also had our superuser training which brought in more staff – that took a lot of pressure off of me. Key, full-time staff members got that same level of training from Xplor Recreation, so it wasn’t all going to fall on me for in-house training. I really enjoyed that.

The software’s really easy to use and a lot of it is self-explanatory, but something that also helped with the transition was working with your implementation team to thoroughly train our staff before the switch. That was a big priority for me, trying to alleviate their fears by getting them in the database beforehand.”


Simple, Efficient, and Effective Software Experience for Staff:

Like most folks, the Calvert County staff had its hesitations about switching platforms. Their feelings quickly swayed as they were able to familiarize themselves with the software and reaped the benefits of a powerful, easy-to-use rec management platform.

“After going live, the staff felt very positively about the change. Really, the only complaints they had were to do with how they were used to doing things a certain way in [in the previous system], but once they figured out how to do those same things in Xplor Recreation, they found it to be much more efficient. A specific example is registering people for programs, you’d have to go a really linear path where you’d have to remember your codes or have your guide in front of you to reference them, but with Xplor you can just go to your calendar, pick the program and register them. With Xplor everything is all in one place, in terms of efficiency it’s just been much easier for staff to access things from one place without having to memorize or reference codes.


Setting up online programs and creating menus is really intuitive and easy. With no software background, it makes me feel like a programmer because of how I’m able to setup and manage databases so easily. Funny enough, during implementation when we launched our testing environment, I went in there and played around. We hadn’t gotten into the training yet, and I was able to easily set up our facility rental button and get everything linked in there by myself. To me that shows just how easy and intuitive the system is, to be able to do that without referencing any knowledge articles or having any training around it."


Modern, Easy-to-use, Self-Serve Experience for Patrons:

Remember those frustrated community members who couldn’t figure out the online registration experience before Calvert County switched to Xplor Recreation? Since making the switch, they are nowhere to be found given how Xplor Recreation’s online experience makes it so easy for patrons to self-serve their needs, from any device at any time!

“Similarly, with [our previous platform’s] online registration experience – I was able to understand it because I was using it every day, but when we had customers wanting to register online for certain things, they’d always complain about the online system.

A lot of them would just get frustrated with online registration and call in to do it over the phone. Since we’ve gone live with Xplor Recreation, we’ve had 0 complaints about the online portal. It’s just so much easier to use and understand.”


Scalable, Secure Database Management:

Permission settings are a database manager’s best friend. Unfortunately, Ken had a sour relationship with his previous software platform’s permission settings. Xplor Recreation is much easier to use and allows Ken to save time on keeping Calvert County’s database clean, secure, and scalable.

“From a systems manager perspective, something I really enjoy about Xplor Recreation is how easy it is to set permissions in Xplor Recreation. I’ll be honest with you, I’ve worked in [our previous platform] for 9 years, and I still don’t fully understand how to set permissions. With Xplor everything is all there in one spot and it’s much easier to just link profiles to things. It makes it much easier to have a secure and well-maintained database from a staff side, which makes my job a lot less stressful.”

In wrapping up, Ken had the following to share when asked if he would recommend Xplor Recreation to other agency’s looking for a new recreation management technology partner:

“I definitely recommend Xplor Recreation. In fact, I’ve actually already recommended it to a couple of neighboring counties! I hopped on a [virtual] call to show them how we’re using Xplor Recreation and they showed me the software they are using. I couldn’t make any sense of it... [Xplor Recreation] was much better.”