Creating and delivering a successful social events programme

By Nicki Davis

One of the key elements of a private members’ club is its social events programme. A successful programme can create a real sense of belonging and contribute greatly to the life and soul of the Club. As a result one of the most important processes I go through as Events Manager at Roehampton Club, is to generate and develop different ideas and then implement them into producing a vibrant programme of events for both the Adult and Junior membership to enjoy.

This process of putting together Roehampton Club’s ‘Social Scene‘ is a twice yearly practice with programmes published seasonally for Autumn/Winter and then Spring/Summer. Work begins on collating it at least a year in advance. Our social events provide a wonderful opportunity to meet fellow Members and catch up with friends as well as promoting the impeccable service and food for which the Club is renowned.

There is a diverse range of events on offer – regular music nights, ‘Evenings with…’, dinners, dances, quizzes, wine tasting evenings and literary talks, as well as some cultural trips to venues outside of the Club. Our annual events, Family Day (aimed at 3 -12 year olds with parents) and Fireworks Spectacular, remain highlights with Fireworks Night attracting over 1000 attendees!

For our younger Members we have a hugely popular Christmas pantomime and hold smaller events throughout the year to celebrate occasions such as Pancake Day and Halloween, as well as a traditional Chocolate Egg Hunt around the gardens on Easter Sunday.

The types of events fall into quite clearly defined categories and ensure that there is something for everyone – with 5000 Members we have a diverse age range of people and ages to consider! There are tried and tested events which we know work and will occur regularly in the programme – why try and reinvent the wheel – but we will also throw something new into the mix. With our policy of continual improvement we are prepared to cut losses if the event proves not be popular. And whilst we have an overarching policy of a small financial surplus at the end of the year, it is more important that we provide a blend of traditional and unique events in the programme.

Premium Events
These come with a higher cost and should be perceived as a ‘highlight’ of the Social Scene. Ie An Evening with series… . Evenings with prestigious speakers, or entertainers with a formal dinner and drinks reception.

Classic Events
A tried and tested successful formula: entertainment provided including food, ie Curry & Quiz, Call My Bluff Wine tasting Evening, Burns Night and a Murder Mystery Dinner. Numbers range from 50 to 120 for these events.

Informal Events
Designed to attract increased use of the club and to generate revenue through Members spending money at the bar/cafe with no ticket price, ie. Friday music nights.. up to 50 will attend.

Intellectual Events
Targeted at a smaller audience, groups of 20-30, often off-site but with a meal included, even a breakfast, ie. ENO Opera trips, Walking Tours.

Intimate workshops (10-20) utilising the talent and specialities we have within the Membership or our staff team aimed at educating Members, ie. Love Your Ipad, First Aid, Rose Pruning, Wisteria Workshop, Save a Life, Open Water swimming.

Family Events
Something where all the family and their friends can come along, providing both entertainment, activities and food, ie. Magic Carvery, Fireworks Night, Family Day.

Junior Events
Specifically put on for our younger members with the emphasis on fun, ie Christmas Pantomime, Halloween workshop, Flipping Pancakes (20 up to 100 for the Panto).

I work by straightforward criteria when developing ideas for the Club’s social events. Each event should:

  • Provide a social environment where Members can maximise the use and enjoyment of their Club
  • Be available to all Members and their guests (ie not for just one section of the Club)
  • Increase usage of the Club’s food and beverage facilities. For example a trip to the Chelsea Flower Show would always include a lunch beforehand (it’s important that we are not just a ticket tout!)

Following these criteria, the key considerations are: 

  • Ensuring there a variety of events available
  • Ensuring there are events for all membership categories
  • Maximising awareness of the events by working with the Marketing team to promote and increase the profile of the events
  • Providing a good member experience and value for money
  • Making the Members feel there is something for them and their family and guests

Guests pay a premium so the Member sees the benefit of being a Member.

Of course, monitoring the success of our events is important and we collect constructive feedback via post event surveys to those who have attended as well as carrying out post mortems & debrief meetings with key members of staff, to ensure continual improvement of future events. For our biggest events, we conduct pre-mortems as well- trying to plan for every eventuality!

A copy of our latest Social Scene programme for Autumn Winter 2017 is available to download here.

Nicki has spent most of her working life in the sports industry, project managing large scale sports events in Europe.  She joined Roehampton Club in 2009 and has been Events Manager there for the last 6 years, overseeing the Club’s Social Scene as well all internal and external events at the Club. An active member of CMAE she has attended CMAA & BMI International Conferences and is on the MDP pathway.