While Atlanta Athletic Club, Johns Creek, Ga., has always offered children’s party accommodations, ramping up on family friendliness has prompted the club to go well above and beyond the call.
The across-the-board shift to a family focus at club and resort properties has opened endless possibilities for new revenue streams. While Atlanta Athletic Club (AAC), Johns Creek, Ga., has always offered children’s party accommodations, ramping up on family friendliness has prompted the club to go well above and beyond the call.
“Before, we would just rent out our gym space and host a party, but there wasn’t a whole lot to it,” says Lisa Berggren, Youth Program Director. “We’ve had a real [renewed] focus on family and on being inclusive of all ages, so we decided to revamp the program completely last September.”
THE GOAL: Make children’s parties more appealing to kids and with lower stress for parents, adding value to membership for the whole family.
Now, AAC families have two options for children’s parties: a signature party package, which includes popular themes such as sports, superhero-in-training or princess; or the “birthday fairy”—a completely customized birthday experience that incorporates “anything they can imagine,” Berggren says.
All events are held at the club in any of a number of popular venues, from the pool to the playground, gym, and smaller private rooms. The club staff handles every detail of the party, often playing a large role in brainstorming with families.
“Sometimes we have parents that really have everything detailed out,” Berggren says. “But more frequently they say, ‘I don’t know where to start.’ ”
The club staff, for example, was approached by a father who wasn’t sure what to do for a party based on the cartoon “Shimmer and Shine.” So the team sat down with him and his daughter and started throwing out ideas. The club’s childcare center was transformed into a genie bottle, with a bounce house, face painter, sand art inside genie bottles that kids took home as favors, and the club’s own “Superman swing” that was converted into a magic carpet ride for the day.
Other notable birthday-fairy events at AAC have included a gingerbread birthday party (for which a private room was turned into a gingerbread house, with kids clad in Santa aprons learning the ins and outs of gingerbread construction), and a luau in the middle of January (where a room became a movie theater with projector, beach balls and blankets, leis, and a popcorn machine).
“It starts with the theme they want, they set the budget, and we give them ideas and it just evolves from there,” Berggren says. And so far, she adds, no one has requested a party element that the club couldn’t make happen.
A Welcomed Service
The signature party packages are available for $250, complete with activities, an attendant from the club, the birthday cake, and standard decor. Extras like a craft station can be added on, and more elaborate and customized parties start at $350 and go up, depending on what parents and kids want.
“One thing parents seem to love is how we’re taking something off their plate—this is a service for them,” says Berggren. “It makes their lives a little easier and lets them enjoy the party with their child. They don’t worry about setup, shopping, decor, and food—everything’s taken care of.”
As kids attend parties at AAC, their parents see all that the venue has to offer, helping the program to spread by word of mouth. The new revenue stream is projected to bring in $10,000-$12,000 annually. In fact, the popularity of the program—especially poolside in the summer—has created its own challenges.
“We didn’t anticipate the popularity of pool parties,” Berggren says. “We have to set standard times—either 11 a.m. or 2 p.m. on the weekends—because the scheduling can get out of control, with the time needed to break down and set up.”
Because the program uses resources the club already has established, however, the extra time and cost are negligible. “We run a lot of social events for kids, so adding on to the private side is utilizing what we already have,” Berggren says. “We’re just making something extra special.”
That changed rapidly, after the social generated club-wide buzz—and requests for private farmhouse bookings.