Sonoma County Regional Parks

Fall-Winter 2016
Project Type
Fast track
Project Focus
Business Plans,
Market Analysis,
Marketing & Communications
Organization Type
Government or Public Services,


The Sonoma County Regional Parks Department (Regional Parks) was established in 1967. Fifty years later, the role of Regional Parks has evolved to be an organization that operates a variety of immensely valuable and extensively used park, recreation, education, open space, and community facilities and programs throughout the county. Currently, the Department manages fifty-one parks, two visitor centers, and 150 miles of trails. The Department has added new parklands, programs, facilities, staff, and services to meet the needs of the expanding population and increased number of visitors to Sonoma County.


The Community Engagement Division within Regional Parks was created a year ago in response to organizational growth and the need for realignment. Community Engagement is responsible for these programmatic areas: Marketing & Communications, Recreation & Environmental Education, Lifeguard Services, Community Outreach & Special Events, and Parks Membership. The Regional Parks Membership Program offers free parking in all parks and a limited number of other benefits in exchange for payment of an annual fee.

Project Objectives

The ACT team was asked to help Community Engagement develop a comprehensive business plan for all aspects of the Regional Parks Membership Program, including the following components:

  • Framework for membership marketing and longer term planning
  • Metrics to track the membership program’s success
  • Recommendations for increasing membership revenue
  • Innovative approaches to market the membership program

Key Recommendations

Membership program goals for 2020:

  • Membership revenue growth at 10% per year: $2.5 million by FY2020
  • Membership growth at 10% per year by FY2020: 41,000 by FY2020 
  • Latino members match share of County population: 30% (26% in 2016)
  • Retail purchases account for 20% of new memberships
  • Membership renewal rate: 80% of members renew each year
  • 75% of renewal memberships done online 
  • 40% of members accessing the website and newsletter per quarter
  • Five benefits in addition to parking, with 5% usage rate for each by FY2020

​Initiatives to enhance membership program

  • Add picnic benefit to attract new members
  • Promote membership in specific regions
  • Compensate retailers with handling fee
  • Seek corporate memberships and sponsorships
  • Create joint membership with state parks
  • Develop Sonoma County Regional Parks membership app

Short-term actions

  • Select a low-effort initiative to implement in FY2017
  • Add picnic benefit to attract new members
  • Develop a business plan with projected revenues and costs
  • Coordinate implementation with the fiftieth anniversary plans
  • Establish baseline metrics and measure progress towards goals
  • Start planning for other initiatives in future years


Final Report Outline

  • Introduction and ACT project objectives        
  • Observations and marketing framework
  • Membership goals and metrics                    
  • Initiatives to enhance membership program    
  • Get started now                                        
  • Appendix