Push the Boat Out open days can be a fantastic way to reach a new audience, boost your membership and bring club members together. We’ve seen some fantastic initiatives over the years, and have been sharing examples of innovation and best practice through a series of Clubroom case studies in the lead up to this year’s PTBO events.
Situated on the Winscar Reservoir in the stunning Peak District National Park, Pennine Sailing Club (PSC) has participated in Push the Boat Out for a number of years now. The club use open days to introduce as many people to their on-the-water offer as possible, as well as boosting their growing membership of 200 sailors and windsurfers.
Learning something new with every event, PSC have managed to perfect their open day offer and in 2018 turned their attention to implementing a more effective promotion and communications strategy. Emily Jane Cappleman from PSC explains how they run their event and just how important social media was in promoting last year’s PTBO activities.
What was the format of your Push the Boat Out event?
Visitors were greeted on arrival by some of our wonderful members in the car park and directed to the club house where they were signed in and booked onto free sailing taster sessions. We gave everyone an allocated time slot so visitors weren’t all waiting at the jetty all at once.
Kids Club members helped by kitting out visitors with buoyancy aids and spray jackets. We then took people for a spin in one of our powerboats before dropping them off in either a Sports 16, Wayfarer or Vision, which were helmed by some of our instructors and experienced sailors.
On land, we had a variety of help desks, tours and displays to provide our guests with all the information they needed, as well as showing them what a welcoming and friendly atmosphere Pennine has. We had dedicated members of our team talking to people about how to join and the RYA sailing courses we offer, as well as showing visitors the different types of dinghies we sail at the club.
Our catering team provided food throughout the event and sold cakes, made and donated by club members in aid of Sail 4 Cancer. We also had a raffle and collection buckets to also help raise funds for this great cause.
A new addition for 2018 was our Sailability open day. We are all about getting everyone, of any ability, into sailing and wanted to show that we are an open, inclusive and diverse club. This followed a similar format to the PTBO event and was a great success, as we gained some great contacts and attracted guests with a range of needs and got them interested and excited about sailing.
How did you promote the event?
We did a huge social media campaign! The key was to start early with little bits of information to get people hooked and awaiting the next post to find out more. As we got closer to the day, the posts picked up pace and we did a countdown to the event, giving a new reason every day for why Pennine is such a fantastic, welcoming and vibrant club and why everyone should come and see for themselves and try sailing for free.
We created a Facebook event that our members could share to get word out, and for visitors to keep up to date with all the latest information about the day itself. We felt this really got both members and non-members involved and everyone felt a part of the campaign. When visitors came, they already felt like they knew the club.
We also ran a competition for all the guests to take a picture of themselves at our PTBO event using the PTBO frame to win amazon vouchers. This was fantastic as it got everyone posting their pictures on Facebook and sharing what a fantastic day they’d had.
We used all the resources available to us, like local events pages and press, to publicise the event, as well as putting up posters and banners in local towns, shops and business to make sure we reached as many people as possible and keep the up-and-coming event at the front of everyone’s minds.
How did this impact your membership?
The most noticeable impact the PTBO event had, was that all of our courses were booked up and oversubscribed! We had a huge waiting list for our adult beginner training, and our highly regarded Kids Club saw an influx of new junior sailors joining. This resulted in a great season with lots of kids learning to sail and achieving their sailing qualifications. We gained a variety of both young and old, experienced and novice members from the PTBO event, and this has benefitted the club hugely by bringing fresh faces with new ideas and expertise to help make PSC the best it can be.
What changes did you implement based on learnings from previous years?
The day followed a similar structure to previous PTBO events we have done, but this year, our biggest difference was the social media campaign. For our 2017 PTBO event, we hit social media a lot more that we have in the past, but we found we started too late and didn’t reach as many people as we could have. Last year we ensured we hit the ground running by getting the word out well in advance, and kept up with posts so it was always at the front of people’s minds. We ran bigger competitions to get people hooked and made posts more personable so everyone felt involved and like they knew the club.
How have you integrated new members?
To try and introduce beginners to the club’s racing scene, we have introduced Sunday morning double-handed sessions, where an experienced helm takes a beginner out racing competitively. This has been fantastic in helping to integrate new members, giving them confidence to get out on the water and give racing a go. In the past we have found that despite a highly successful beginners training course, many felt intimidated about going out on a Thursday evening or Sunday racing. Since starting this program, we have retained far more members than in the past and got more people out on the water. This has also helped new members get to know existing members so they really feel a part of the club.
Clubroom top tips for social media
- Have a plan! – Social media can be a fantastic tool for raising awareness for your club and open day. Start early, post frequently and get members involved, liking and sharing posts. A social media schedule and content plan can be a useful tool for making the most of opportunities in the run up to your event. Pick up frequency as the day or weekend approaches and consider running a countdown or social activity to build excitement.
- Get visitors involved –On the day, ask visitors to share their photos and experiences on social media. Why not run a competition for the best photo to encourage them to get involved? Make sure they are tagging your club and using the #PushTheBoatOut hashtag for the best reach. Don’t forget to monitor coverage and engage with visitor posts – liking and sharing where appropriate!
- Keep it personal – try to involve both members and visitors by keeping it more personal. Keep language chatty and approachable and use images and video wherever possible to give followers a ‘behind the scenes’ insight into club life.
Once again, RYA Push the Boat Out is set to return for the month of May. More than 350 clubs have signed up to take part in this year’s event to get more people in our clubs and on the water. Activator resources will be sent out shortly and the PTBO events map will be live in the next few weeks.
Get ready for your event by checking out the resources available in Club Zone. You can also catch up on the rest of the Clubroom PTBO series below:
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