Fitzroy-Victoria Supports the Whole Community

by Kalon Huett (BV Contributor)

If the success of Fitzroy Victoria Bowling and Sports Club could be narrowed down to one specific factor, it would probably be the proactive approach to community engagement fostered from the top right down to the casual staff. Not engagement with a few obvious demographics, but rather the whole local community.

“We lease this facility, so we understand that our responsibility is to support the local community and offer everyone an enjoyable recreational experience,” says Club President Dobe Newton. “The demographics of our customers are incredibly broad. We have family events with people aged between 7 and 70. We have groups of friends in their 20s and 30s. We have wheelchair participants and groups of people with different abilities, and and we have a similar amount of male and female visitors.”

The club’s own research indicates that approximately 95 per cent of the 45,000 people who visit each year actually participate in bowling – a figure Newton is rightly proud to achieve.

“I believe we present a really attractive facility with 10 separate function areas for hire, which draws in all different groups of people, particularly those from younger generations,” he says. “One of the big attractions of bowls is that it’s a social outdoor activity where strength, experience, physical ability and gender don’t matter. By promoting the club with this in mind we get a great variety of visitors, including an enormous number of end-of-year work functions and other similar events where everyone can participate on an equal basis.”

So how does Fitzroy Victoria Bowling and Sports Club set about achieving its participation targets? It involves some bold ambition and a multi-faceted marketing strategy.

“In the last three years we’ve made a concerted effort to get social media likes and shares, as well as detailed feedback, from our customers,” explains Newton.

A few times a year the club sends an online survey asking anyone who has booked a recent function to answer a series of questions such as: How was the bar service? What did you think of the menu? How was the booking process? What did you think of the facility when you were here? Would you consider coming back? Would you recommend us to friends?

“The results of these regular surveys have been fantastic,” Newton says. “In recent years we’ve also appointed a development officer who works with local primary and secondary schools in the area. The club now has a junior squad comprising members from these schools. That’s the future of the club. And when Crackerjack Bowls came along, we got in early with the idea that ‘Barefoot Bowls’ was going to grow in popularity very quickly.”

The community perspective

In December, Fitzroy North resident Georgia Oakley organised a Christmas party at Fitzroy Victoria Bowling and Sports Club for a group of 20 friends aged predominantly in their 30s.

“Bowls is a fun sport that everyone can get involved in. We arranged teams for everyone to mix it up a bit and to encourage the group to get out on the green,” Oakley says. “The club also provides separate BBQ areas for hire, which is exactly what we wanted. Having a bar on site with very affordable prices was another drawcard.”

As for the overall service, Oakley could not have been more impressed. “It’s an excellent venue with a great events team that helped to make the day really enjoyable and easy to plan. They happily answered any questions I had and provided us with everything we needed on the day,” she says.

“In fact, although I live in Fitzroy North this was the first time I had been to the Bowls Club and I was really impressed by all the facilities and the friendly, helpful service. It could become an annual event!”

Fitzroy Victoria Bowling and Sports Club is located 3km from Melbourne’s CBD in the Edinburgh Park precinct in North Fitzroy.