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Running a Successful Open Day 

Instructor Running an open day is a great way raise awareness of your club. Find out what to consider when planning your open day.

Open days can be a great way to attract new members and build awareness of your club in the local community.

Here we offer you some useful tips on what to consider when planning an open day. Although all clubs vary, most of these ideas have been developed and proved successful by sailing clubs and centres around the UK so there is a good chance that they will work for you too.

Aim: To raise awareness of your club and to attract new members.

Duration: One day

Run by: Dinghy/Windsurf Senior Instructor or a Club Officer

Things to consider

When?

  • The open day should feed people into your club courses and therefore should give them the chance to use their skills before the winter.

Who are you targeting?

  • Be clear about who you want to attend. Are you targeting families, school children, students, singles or just the local community?
  • Encourage members to bring a friend, family or colleagues.

Advertise your open day

  • Email sportdevelopment@rya.org.uk to get your open day listed on the RYA website.
  • Produce a leaflet/poster advertising your open day and distribute locally.
  • Contact the local press/radio or write a press release.
  • Follow this up with another press release with a photo of the event.
  • Put up posters in the local area.
  • Contact your local school and advertise there.

How?

  • Plan your day in line with your target audience. If you are inviting children/families to come along organise games, face painting etc.
  • Offer on-the-water sessions – either a small instruction session or a trip in a club member’s boat.
  • Let people get a feel of the club. Offer tours of the clubhouse and facilities so that they can see what facilities you can provide.
  • Create a social atmosphere; provide lunch, refreshments etc. BBQ’s are always great fun.
  • After their taster session arrange for a member to meet them at the jetty and talk about the club’s learn to sail course/club membership.

Logistics

  • Allocate roles for the day. Ask club members to talk to visitors or give a tour of the club, etc. Give all volunteers a briefing including the emergency action plan.
  • Setup a registration desk. Ensure you take down name and contact details, enabling you to follow up enquiries and offer them a taster session.
  • Give visitors membership forms to complete or take away.
  • Make sure you have a contingency plan if the event of bad weather!

Insurance

Check that your club policy will cover you to run an event like this.

Facilities / kit needed

  • Dinghies – club boats and possibly borrow suitable member’s boats - check all are in good condition
  • Fun activities for children – colouring in, quizzes, face painting
  • Buoyancy aids
  • Spare wet weather gear
  • Instructors/competent helms/volunteers

Benefits

  • Raise awareness of the club
  • Gain new members
  • Improve community relations
  • Possibly boost club finances

Long term actions

  • Follow up communication with all who attended, inviting them to either join or attend the club’s learn to sail course.
  • Run at least one open day per year.

For more information, read how Shotwick Lake Sailing Club organise their open days.

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