More Play Bowls Month success stories

by Team BV

The positive stories from Play Bowls Month have continued to come in. We’ve even had a club who signed up 100% of the people who attended their Come & Try Day!
Bendigo VRI had two people attend, and they got two new members!
Here are a few more stories of club’s that’ve had some great success throughout Play Bowls Month, getting more people active through playing bowls in their communities.
Mildura BC
Play Bowls Month has been really good for Mildura BC, members have brought their families along, and there have also been young families and even little kids having a go.
18 turned up the first week; 36 the next; and 51 the week after that.
“They’re now calling up and booking a rink during the week to make sure they can get on the green. People are now starting to turn up and we can’t cater for them all!” says Mildura’s Play Bowls Month Coordinator Chris Mitchell.
“When we see a group going well, we’ll have a lucky draw, FREE Barefoot Bowls. It doesn’t cost us anything and if they bring down some friends the following week then it makes it all worth it.”
More people are getting involved (and the bar tab has gone up) and now more club members are excited about Barefoot Bowls on a Friday night. They use Spotify to connect to an amp and play music.  They’ll be running their barefoot bowls until Christmas, with a BBQ, Drinks and music going for $10 per night.
Chris had a slightly different method to attracting participants. Flyers would go to every local business, but he would also collect their contact details. Then 8-10 days later he’d follow up with a call to confirm their booking.
Mildura will also be looking to organise a come & try day for the Mildura Health Club, who sponsor the corporate bowls on a Monday night, and give a free membership to try and encourage a greater connection between members of the health club, and potential bowlers.
Then to cap it off, the club is also introducing a new category of membership so for $40, interested bowlers can get a Mildura Barefoot Bowls membership.
The club plans on running a meet and greet night with the new bowlers and existing members in January or February.
“We’ve also had a lot of school students, with 400 students in the last 8 weeks. Particularly Year 7 kids coming for a come & try session.”
“You’ve got to make new people at the club feel welcome, then the next step is getting all club members to make them feel welcome as well. Once that happens you can start to step back and let them enjoy it.”
If Chris had one tip for other clubs wanting to run barefoot bowls; “There are no bowls police. Unless you see something really silly or dangerous, let them enjoy it.”
Heathmont BC
Heathmont are a club doing great things and because of it, they’re expecting over 1,000 people to come and participate in bowls at their club in November & December for functions and events. A combination of other initiatives things have made them successful; but you can now add their recent Come & Try Day as part of Play Bowls Month, and the barefoot bowls they ran as a follow up to the list.
Heathmont had approximately 100 people attend their Come & Try Day, with Heathmont’s Events/Venue Manager Paul Gannon identifying social media promotion as the key to their success.
“We used targeted Facebook ads for the area. We targeted age, demographics and interests, there is a lot you can do and it’s really cost-effective.”
There were families, retired people, young guys, a mix of people who attended the Come & Try day, which also featured a BBQ and a jumping castle.
“We collected people’s emails as they came into the club, and the reason we were able to transition some of these people into members, is because we communicated with them as a follow up.”
Over the course of the past two months Heathmont has signed over 20 new bowlers, six social memberships and the rest as full members, some have even started playing pennant.
The club has found that sending follow up emails with barefoot bowls information and social events at the club has really helped focus on the community aspect and social network the club has to offer.
Paul also identifies the club’s involvement at the Maroondah Festival, run by Maroondah City Council, as another key to the recent participation spike.
“We were inundated with interest. There were lots of other sports and activities on show, but parents kept bringing their kids back to play bowls. It only cost $65 to get a stand and grass area to run bowls activities. Taking the bowls to the people, proved to be really successful for us.”
The key for Heathmont has been their work online and through social media to promote the club and highlight the different opportunities, as well as taking bowls to the people.
“We have to think about the marketplace, we have to provide options. We can’t expect young families to have the time to play pennant, so we have to think about what they want, then adapt to suit them.”
There have also been a number of other clubs having great results through their Play Bowls Month activities.
Marong BC saw some fantastic results through their extensive barefoot bowls program, translating into five new full members, who are now playing competitive bowls. “We called our Come & Try Days, Friday Fun Nights. We learnt a great deal from running these and next year we will try to include a schools program before then.”
Glen Waverley also found Play Bowls Month enhanced their ability to run the club’s annual Come & Try Day. They signed six new members and will be conducting a barefoot bowls program in early 2017.
Mt Martha BC ran their annual Come & Try day, and although they had less number than expected, were still able to sign 12 new members to the club. They identified that the greatest thing about their involvement with Play Bowls Month was the enthusiasm attendees had for the game, and overall they expect to sign up another 3-4 playing members.
The main focus of Play Bowls Month was never to result in a direct increase in full members of clubs. The focus has always been to provide clubs with support to run opportunities for people to come & experience bowls at their club and increase the awareness of bowls in the community.
Looking at the statistics that have come back from clubs almost over 2,000 people participated in Play Bowls Month events and 1 in 8 people that participated has joined their local club.
Play Bowls Month wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our partners VicHealth and MOVE, and together with the support of our Regional Bowls Managers and fantastic club volunteers we’re had some amazing results.
Play Bowls Month will be happening again next year, and we will be taking on board all the feedback we’ve received from the 55 clubs who participated this year.
In the meantime, check out all the resources your club needs to get ready for 2017 here. 
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