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Push The Boat Out - The Final Countdown 

Push The Boat Out Lads Last minute hints and tips to make sure your event goes with a bang!

No fewer than 51 clubs and centres running 78 events - Push The Boat Out 2016 is ready to launch across the Midlands!

But what could you be checking off in the final countdown to give your event the best chance of success?

1. Get your signage up before the day

It was a common theme amongst clubs who held successful PTBO events last year that having all your signage clear and in place by the time your visitors start arriving is all a very important part of presenting yourself as a professional outfit. You don’t want people running around still putting signs up when folk are coming through the gates, so get it done early. This includes a banner and event details on your website homepage.

2. The last minute power of Facebook

Especially if the weather looks good, people are always looking for last minute things to do so are your members primed and ready to do a last minute 'push' to their own friends via their personal Facebook pages? Word of mouth is still the most important factor in publicising your event and Facebook and social media is basically digital word of mouth. Have you got a picture of your poster they could share, or they could post this video so their friends can get a glimpse of the type of fun they have as sailing club members. It works.

3. Volunteer 'messaging' briefing 

Are all your volunteers who will be engaged with the public on the same page when it comes to what messages you want to get across around your club and the sport? 'Isn't sailing an expensive sport? Do I need to buy a boat to learn to sail? I'm not going to have a go, I'm just hear to watch my husband.' We've all heard these questions a 1000 times before and we all know the reality is a million miles from the perception but would your volunteers know what to say if asked? Produce a checklist sheet of things they could get asked and make sure they get a copy before your event. The last thing you want is someone who's overcome obvious nerves to have a go and enjoyed it then have a volunteer ram down their throat about the ferocity of your club racing - you simply won't see that person again!

4. Wet weather communication contingency

A bit of rain means nothing to sailors as we know, but to the wider world a bit of rain typically means events being cancelled or a search for alternative ways to spend a day. What have you got in place to let people know your event is still on even if the weather is a bit British? Can someone ring the local radio station, who's going to post it to social media, can your members help you too with getting messages to people they know who had said they would like to come? Even if it gets to the point where conditions mean tasters are a no-go you can still give people a taste of what your club is about and what you do.

5. Have you got enough grub?

Again one of the biggest bits of PTBO feedback last year reported food was one of the most important things to get right. Don't underestimate how much people eat! Those going out on the water typically want to eat when they come ashore and those not sailing want to eat while their friends and family are! Well fed and watered people tend to be happy people, and happy people are more likely to remember your event as a positive experience and come back. 

6. Have a walkthrough

There is nothing like a fresh pair of eyes to pick up on things you might have overlooked. Once all this is in place get someone who knows little, if anything, about the club to act as a 'dummy' visitor and get them to walkthrough the exact routine that will happen at your event. 

  • Have they felt welcomed? 
  • Did they know where to go? 
  • Did they know where the toilets were and where they could get refreshments? 
  • Were they clear about what would happen in the taster sail? 
  • Did they know how they could sign up for a course or become a member before leaving?

These are just a few questions that if they answer 'no' to, you know you will need to address before the event.

7. Could you make a short 'intro' video?

This video produced by Sailability for Draycote Water is a brilliant way to give visitors an idea of what to expect at a club before they arrive. 

You don't need the production budget of a Hollywood blockbuster anymore to produce a short video using a phone, tablet or GoPro that you can stick on your website and social media. It's just another way to let people know you are putting yourself in their shoes and you want to make them feel welcome.

8. What have you got in place to follow up with visitors?

So often so much time, effort and worry goes into the running of the event itself that once it's over there are audible sighs of relief and the 'what happens next' gets forgotten about. But what's the point of going through all this if you don't actually boost membership and course sales? Some visitors will be super keen and sign up on the day, but what about those who enjoyed it but didn't want to commit there and then? How are you going to convert them? Who are your willing volunteers to do the follow up calls and emails? How are you going to incentivise these people to return (invite them to another taster, club social, extend introductory discounts etc). This is actually the bit that could have the biggest impact. 

Have an AWESOME event!

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