At a dinner party recently, I was introduced to a friend of a friend who, when she found out I worked in curling, commented that her small group of amateur musicians had decided to try curling as a group activity.
None of them had played before so they Googled ‘curling Ottawa’, found a building and rented the ice. She said they had an absolute ball and were going back this year to do it again. But here is what she said next: “who knew curling clubs did this”!
And isn’t that the truth. We have such a great product that people fall in love with when they play it for the first time and yet we don’t tell anyone!!!
This chance encounter is typical I think of a growing, positive trend for the sport of curling: one time rentals by companies, charities, associations or simply groups of people. Think golf. Every group of people from firefighters to church groups to businesses all have golf tournaments. Golf course owners / managers love these groups because they pay green fees, hit practice balls, buy balls, eat lunch and maybe dinner and buy from the beverage cart. A very lucrative part of their industry.
So why not curling?
These groups could easily balance their summer golf tournament with a winter curling day. They generally golf during the day during the week and our curling facilities have daytime ice. We have kitchens and we have bars and rain or snow likely won’t cancel their curling day. And our sport can be a great team building activity.
If you want to be successful, do what some clubs have done and prepare special per person packages that include ice time, equipment and food. Don’t be afraid to charge for ice time. If you think $5 hour is inexpensive, that translates into $80 for two hours of ice ($5 x 2 hours x 8 curlers). Interestingly enough, few clubs in Canada actually charge that much and yet it’s only five bucks an hour.
In respect to quality of ice, make it great. Don’t just turn on the lights and take down the numbers because they’re probably all novices and won’t know the difference. You could be charging $80 per sheet and they deserve fast, clean ice. Besides, everyone will have way more fun because they have a chance to make shots like they’ve seen on television and of course, the better chance they’ll come back next near!
Food will be important and make sure what you offer is what you do well. Every club in Canada is famous for something out of their kitchens/restaurants so make that part of the package. Sell what you do well!
Finally, if you don’t know where to look to find these groups, the Internet is an obvious choice as is the local Chamber of Commerce or the yellow pages. There are, however, other ways to track down prospects.
Local newspapers often advertise the local charity golf tournaments. Read the papers and cut out these ads. They’ll make great leads for your club’s business development team!
Check out your own membership. Most if not all of your members are affiliated with other groups / organizations and you may be pleasantly surprised to find enough business from within.
So start recruiting and set simple goals of 2-3 new one-time rentals for 2008-2009. Be as good as you can be and watch the impact to your bottom line!
P.S. there’s not much to choose from a quick internet search of corporate or charity curling events, however, here are a few samples. If your club or charity has a website about corporate or charity curling events which describe the activity and the cost, please send them to me and we will post them here!