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Get more out of your Push the Boat Out event

If you are planning to hold an RYA Push the Boat Out (PTBO) taster event this May but haven’t yet registered, make sure to sign up before 04 March to make the most of the resources and support available to all RYA affiliated clubs.

Running as a month long event for the first time, Push the Boat Out 2018, held throughout the month of May, proved to be the most successful PTBO to date, with more than 39,000 people attending an open day. But how can clubs retain those members who join through PTBO?

Over the next few months, Clubroom will feature case studies from clubs who have had a particularly successful PTBO experience. Whether it be promotion in the lead up to their event, the taster day itself or retention activities and follow up after the event, we’ll be sharing examples of best practice.

Lessons learnt at East Lothian Yacht Club

East Lothian Yacht Club was founded in 1928 and is situated in a picturesque old granary building overlooking North Berwick harbour. Having identified that something needed to be done to attract new members, the club took part in their first Push the Boat Out in 2017, attracting 13 new members.

Learning year on year, the club set out to make 2018 even more of a success, and as a result of implementing a few changes to the way the event was run, were pleased to welcome 33 new members as a direct result of their taster weekend. Secretary, Alastair MacIntyre shares some of their top tips for making your PTBO a success:

What was the format of your Push the Boat Out event?

“Whilst the weather ensured we had a warm and sunny summer, we started 2018 with a tremendous Push the Boat Out. We worked with other local clubs to offer kayaking and rowing, as well as our own club activities of sailing and powerboating. We offered activities on Friday evening and all day Saturday and Sunday.

Nothing was bookable online - you had to turn up. We had a mix of club instructors and club members, all in ten club dinghies who were able to take potential members sailing. We also had eight yachts on hand to take people out on-the-water. Members were used to ferry visitors out to the boats, also giving them a short blast on a RIB!”

How did you promote the event?

“We printed leaflets, loosely based on the RYA flyers and did a leaflet drop in town, with particular attention to the vast amount of new build housing. This was supplemented by extensive use of Facebook and Twitter.”

How did this impact your membership?

“We attracted 212 potential members who enjoyed 266 water-based experiences, and 33 signed up to join the club. We had 66 club members volunteering over the weekend in all sorts of roles. All of this created a great buzz over the weekend. “

What changes did you implement based on learnings from the previous year?

“A lesson learnt from the previous year was to have courses available for new members. This was well managed, and courses were booked to allow 36 cadets and 13 adults to ‘Learn to Sail’. 21 also successfully completed their RYA Powerboat Level 2 course.

On the day, we ran a registration and tally system, making sure to register visitors in and out. This meant they had to come back to the registration desk following any on-the-water activity to be marked back ashore. This also allowed us to have an informal chat with them about their ‘next steps’, whether it be a training course or another activity at the club.

 We also had a donation dish beside registration with a sign saying: ‘We hope you enjoyed your free experience, if so and you would like to make a donation to club funds,it would be much appreciated’.

Another learning point was in terms of providing a pathway from Level 1 and 2 into club racing, and this is really what we wanted to achieve. A programme of race coaching on Monday evenings and a 3 day race camp in the summer worked well. These days along with ‘social sailing’ on Friday evenings and several Sundays, ensured new members were able to practice their newly acquired skills.

Our numbers on the race course have improved considerably over the summer. Naturally this activity has led to a busier bar and increased bar profits. Win, win!”

Aside from providing training courses and implementing the club racing pathway, how have you integrated new members?

“We celebrated the year with our 90th Birthday Bash which was attended by 126 members and guests – it was the perfect way to integrate new members and celebrate the club.”

Clubroom top tips

  • Stay in touch – ensure there is an opportunity to speak with visitors after their taster session. If they’ve enjoyed it, it’s a chance to discuss their next steps, tell them a little more about the club and keep the conversation open.
  • Be prepared - make sure you have capacity for potential new members to sign up and take part in a follow on club activity, such as Learn to Sail or Improver courses. Retaining new members is much easier if there are ongoing opportunities for them to take to the water and develop their skills.
  • Integration is key – New member social opportunities are great for encouraging potential new members to come along and feel a part of the club action. Whether it’s racing, social sailing, or a fish and chip supper at the club, regular events in the club’s social calendar allow potential new members to see how they can get involved.

Sign up is now open

For the second year, Push the Boat Out will be running throughout the month of May, enabling even more venues to participate. Early in the sailing season, it’s a great opportunity for clubs to take part in a national initiative and to attract their local community to come and have a go at sailing.

Taster sessions held throughout May last year inspired thousands to get out on the water, with some 3,500 new sailors joining their local club as a direct result of an event.

Activator sign up closes on Monday 04 March. Sign up now.

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