Every four years, even less-than-casual fans turn into fanatics when curling takes the spotlight at the Winter Olympics.
Beacon Hill Club’s General Manager Alex McDonald thought the sport would jibe nicely with the Summit, N.J. club’s newly renovated ice rink—and the idea of a Curling Bonspiel and Social came to light.
“I wanted to create an experience for our membership that was unlike anything the club had ever done, and offer an event that the majority of my members had never had the opportunity to do,” McDonald says.
Beacon Hill Club is somewhat unique in its market because winter is almost as busy, if not more active, than the summer months, according to McDonald.
“Since we don’t possess a golf course, I need to leverage what I refer to as our ‘unicorn’—an outdoor ice-rink that is an institution in the Beacon Hill culture,” he says.
In the summer of 2018, the club renovated the ice rink and held an opening party, McDonald says. During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, he announced that the club would be hosting its inaugural Curling Social in January 2019.
“The response was so positive in the weeks following, the majority of marketing was done by members themselves,” he says. “We had one poster at the front of the club, and reinforced the event with targeted communications and social-media postings.
“Once registrations went live, we had to expand the size of the event three times, with all spots selling out within hours of each communication,” McDonald adds.
By using social media, significant buzz led up to the event, McDonald says.
Realizing how unique the event was, he added a “socializing” component, to draw in members who may not have wanted to physically curl, but had a desire to experience the buzz and energy.
“For spectators, I coordinated three tasting stations with our existing vendors, and each station had a voting component allowing members to vote on their favorite spirit,” McDonald says.
Throughout the evening, the club had an outdoor grill running, with specials and unique offerings typically not extended on a Friday night.
The cost for this adults-only event was $35 per person, which included a designated curling slot with instruction, the opportunity to curl during open play and access to the “socializing” part of the event. For socializing only, the cost was $15 per person.
Equipment and instruction were provided for those who wanted to try the sport.
In all, more than 200 Beacon Hill members participated in the event—165 of whom curled, with an additional 35 to 40 “socializing.”
“The feedback from the event was overwhelming, with so many members communicating it was the best event the club had ever hosted, and word spread quickly to neighboring clubs,” McDonald says. “We also had members who don’t typically use the club attend—and since the event [they have] approached their membership under a different lens.”
The Goal: After the buzz that the U.S. curling team created at the 2018 Winter Olympics, Beacon Hill Club wanted to transfer the excitement to its renovated outdoor ice rink and the idea of a Curling Bonspiel and Social was born.
The Plan: After the event was announced, response was so positive that the majority of the marketing for it was done by members themselves. The event also served as a great way to get members acclimated to the club’s recently launched mobile app.
The Payoff: Once registrations went live, Beacon Hill had to expand the size of the event three times, with all spots selling out within hours of each communication. Two hundred members participated, many of whom had not typically used the club but now saw it “under a different lens.” The event also proved to have special multi-generational appeal.