Visitors (Not) Welcome
Back when June was really flaming, a comment was made on facebook site Naturist England expressing the poster’s regret that he could not visit his local club mid-week, it being closed. It is hard to imagine anyone in his position who would not, given the weather at the time, hot and airless, want to do so. Nude seemed to be the most comfortable mode of uum… dress. It transpired, however, the club in question had been the victim of vandalism in the past so the site was locked up during the working week.
On the face of it, this was a proper and logical response to a problem, but was it the only answer the club could have used?
During the good summer weather clubs are pretty much full at weekends as members take the opportunity to top up their tans and enjoy the fresh air. Only we don’t have good weather just at the weekends and naturism isn’t just a weekend activity. Perhaps that isn’t your club though and you can call in and see other members who have chosen to spend the day (or part of it) enjoying the good weather. But is it full? Could the club have accommodated a few more, just for the day?
Visit England, the tourist board for England, collate the number of day visits of three-hours or more made in the country, and between March and May 2013 they counted 524 million visits worth a cool £14.5 billion (GB Day Visits 2013, March-May GB and England). It is hard to credit that and this was before the heatwave. These figures are unlikely to include any results from naturist clubs however, because this data is not collected by anyone, not even British Naturism. Yet, with that number of visits being made to non-naturist sites it must have included naturists among the visitors. Therefore the potential for weekday visitors to naturist clubs is an obvious, if unproven, conclusion to make.
In August I mentioned an episode of The Naturist Living Show by Stéphane Deschênes who used his experience in marketing to give a few tips on promoting naturism. It is a very informative programme and still available from the website to download. In the show, Stéphane remarked how he had encouraged day visitors to his club – Bare Oaks Family Naturist Park – in Canada by matching his daily entry price with that of a local golf club. Here in West Yorkshire, my local municipal golf course charges £30 for the day. Just out of curiosity I asked the beleaguered naturist on Naturist England how much he would have paid to visit his chosen club. £16 came the reply. At that price, a quick calculation suggests that over a 15-week season the club could have an extra £12,000 in income if they got an average of 10 weekday visitors per day. Raise that daily rate to £30 and the income goes up to £22,500. This obviously doesn’t taken into account the outgoings, such as wages for any seasonal staff employed, NI contributions and so forth, but in my opinion the advantages of opening the club during the week are multiple and outweigh the disadvantages:
- With people using the site more of the time trespassers, the main cause of vandalism, are deterred, which may bring down insurance premiums;
- The club will be improving customer service by moving to accommodate its existing members by offering extended hours, rather than its members accommodating the club by confining their visits to certain times;
- It will help with recruitment to the club. Rather than having specific open days, the curious/interested could visit anytime during the week and perhaps find it less intimidating to be naked in company when the club is less full. They may also be younger than the usual person encountered by the club and it will not be inconveniencing existing members;
- It may help to control the “unaccompanied male problem” – if it exists – if those stuck on a waiting list could still visit the club when it is less busy without necessarily joining;
- And finally, the club will be helping to promote naturism generally, with hardly any extra effort on the part of the committee or its members.
This may not be a perfect answer for every club, but it is an option that should not be overlooked or dismissed out of hand. According to an article published by Digital Journal, by Marcus Hondro (published 20 Aug 2013), and quoting The Daily Star, it said that the British public has shown lots interest in naturism and have contacted clubs as a result. One club – Tando in north Tyneside – reported an increase ranging from 100 to 200 per cent. While it is without doubt the good weather that brought about this rise, to keep them the clubs must provide the kind of customer service they have come to expect from elsewhere. The last thing anyone planning a visit to a naturist club, or anywhere else for that matter, is to see a “CLOSED” sign on the door when everywhere else is open for business.