Keeping members engaged during the winter
As the winter months draw closer, this year it's more important than ever to consider how you will keep your members active and engaged over the winter months. A number of people will keep sailing which is fantastic, however for many of your members the winter months will mean less boating.
We caught up with RYA Regional Development Officer Adam McGovern about why this is important and what can be done to keep club members active.
With family finances tighter than ever and people worried what is in store for the next 12 months it is important to keep the membership satisfaction up so when the new season approaches and it's time to renew membership that they don't think twice Adam explains.
So how can clubs plan ahead?
The next 6 months are going to be uncertain times so it is important to be flexible with your planning and to think both best case scenario and worst case scenario and plan for both eventualities.
I would suggest that a small team of five or six people start planning your winter programme now!
What are the biggest challenges?
I think at the moment it will be the uncertainty around whether the restrictions will ease again or if we end up back in lockdown. Another challenge is that everyone has had a different experience over the past six months so the needs and wants of your members may have changed.
Also think carefully when using technology. Lots of people have become really familiar with the conference call tech side of things but we don't want to isolate members who don't.
So what activities should we consider over the coming months?
Online talks & Q&As are a great idea. The RYA Club Development Forums, rules webinars etc all proved really popular so you might have some good speakers at the club who could do some live or recorded talks.
You may be planning a Winter Series and following the disrupted summer the demand for winter recreational sailing or racing could be higher than ever which is a great opportunity.
eSailing is proving a great way to encourage competition, fun and general banter during the colder months and can be done from the comfort of your own home. The RYA will running the RYA eSailing Winter Club Championship so why not plan a series to run over the winter months ready to select your champion to compete for the national title! Check out our eSailing web page on how to get involved.
What about non sailing activities?
Do your club do any other activities such a club walks or cycle rides? This could be a really worthwhile way to get involve your members and keep fit in a different way over the winter. Obviously there are restrictions on the numbers that can safely take part.
Cold does not always mean people don't want to sit outdoors. I have done many a winter walk or cycle ride followed by a drink outside in the winter sun. Consider investing in your outdoor space ready not only for winter but for the summer ahead. Make it a nice place for people to come and enjoy.
Another idea could be to extend the bar and catering opening times. The numbers may be limited in bars at the moment so maybe consider adding evenings to allow the maximum number of people to enjoy the club socially distanced.
Finally how important is communication?
I'm advising clubs to communicate with members in every way possible from social media and website posts to whatsapp messages and even letters in the post.
Remember that a number of your members may still be shielding so work out a way to keep in touch to ensure they remain part of the community. You could work out a buddy system or create small social groups within the club.
If you would have any questions on winter activities and member engagement please get in touch with your Regional Development Officer.