The Cosmos Club gauged member interest in family-focused events by offering a live petting zoo.
By far, the biggest trend in the club industry of the past decade has been toward offering programming and events that are inclusive of the entire family and extend well beyond just traditional adult-oriented activities.
But for the 138 years of the Cosmos Club’s existence in downtown Washington, D.C., there was “very little to no emphasis on family programming,” says General Manager Mitchell Platt, MCM, CCE. “The only family-friendly activities were centered around the major holidays.”
|THE GOAL: Gauge whether the membership at the Cosmos Club wanted (or needed) year-round family programming beyond holiday events.
THE PLAN: Transform the club’s West Garden and an adjacent parking lot into a petting zoo and invite families to enjoy the animals together.
THE PAYOFF: The club has added a family craft day in response to the event’s success and is planning more family-friendly activities for the future.
Because the club hadn’t offered kids’ events in the past, its staff weren’t sure how members would respond to them. So the management team decided to experiment with a family event to gauge members’ reaction, and go from there.
For its first effort, the club elected to offer a classic family-friendly event: a live petting zoo. It hired a mobile petting zoo company that brought the animals, pens and pony rides, and coordinated the logistical set-up on-site, using the West Garden and clearing out 20 spaces in an adjacent parking lot.
“We are fortunate, as a city club, to have outdoor spaces, and this was a great utilization,” says Platt.
The event extended from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on a Saturday in the fall (as a “back-to-school” event) at a cost of $35 for adults, $20 for kids ages 6-12, and free for those ages 5 and under. The event saw a total of 115 attendees spanning multiple generations.
“We geared [the event] not only to our members who had young kids, but to a larger population for us—members with grandkids,” Platt says.
The club also offered a kid-friendly buffet with adult selections, so members could make a day of it. The success of the event did make one thing clear: The membership of the Cosmos Club is ready for family-focused events.
“We have added a family craft day for the holidays directly because of the success [of the petting zoo],” Platt says. “And we are gearing up for more family-friendly activities after our upcoming summer renovations.”
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