Club Growth Symposium 2019

Club Growth Symposium 2019

Club Growth Symposium 2019

Thirty two sailors and organisers representing a variety of clubs from around the country gathered on the sunny shores of Lough Ree, Athlone last Saturday. The second Club Symposium is hosted and organised by Irish Sailing, but driven by the clubs and for the clubs to connect members and address issues in a changing climate for our sport.

During the day we heard from Tom Murray, past Commodore of Foynes Yacht Club who shared his experiences on bringing together a small club to complete large projects. George Kingston of Kinsale YC, RCYC, RStGYC (and Google) gave some tips on digitally promoting your club and how best a club can communicate with their members – from identifying audiences to updating websites and Google searches. Tools for Customer Relationship Management (CRM) were discussed by Irish Sailing’s Gail MacAllister and Kevin Leonard of GoSailing and RIYC. And Maeve Buckley of Schull Harbour SC presented some findings from recent RYA research which looked at the changing demographics of sailors in the UK. Maeve then lead discussions on what this research might mean for sailing in Ireland, and ideas for tackling this. This session then neatly segued into the “Stop Start Go” discussions which host Nikki Curran of Sligo YC and Irish Sailing Board Member said would be brought back to Irish Sailing for discussion and implementation.  Due to a lack of time, the training workshop was not run.

Participants were sent a list that evening of five things they could bring to their club on Monday morning:

  1. Survey your members.
    • Find out why they’re members? You’ll find out more about why people join, and stay. And you can use this information to entice new audiences.
    • Find out from members who have left or just left WHY they’ve left. Is there something easy you can fix?
  2. Test your club’s website
    • Ask a friend who’s not a member to sense-check your website. Is it easy for a non-sailor to understand? Is it formatted for a mobile phone? Does it take too long to load?
  3. Target the parents
    • Parents who bring their children on training courses are easy targets. Is there a course or social event or Try Sailing event you can set up to get them into the club and convert to members?
  4. Check your Google search
    • This is the first port of call for many people when they search for information on sailing. Is your club’s Google information up to date? If it’s up to date, is there other information you can add like upcoming events?
  5. What can Irish Sailing do for you?
    • You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. How can Irish Sailing help your club? There’s a wealth of information, tools and resources that already exist on our website, on our digital channels, and with our staff – just get in touch.

You can read all the presentations on Promoting Your Club in the Digital Age and On Line Booking & Customer Audience on the links below, and if you’d like to get involved in next year’s Club Symposium please contact organiser Ciaran Murphy (

A massive thank you has to go out to the facilitators Kikki Curran, George Kinston, Kevin Leeonard, Ciaran O'Brien and Maeve Buckley for their commitment to bringing everyone together ...

... By Clubs For Clubs