Retention and Engagement

Source:  Eastern Canada Workshop of December 2 -3, 2022

Focus of club: Shift from just being about travel to being about SELLING FRIENDSHIP!  Develop a 3-year plan to keep people engaged.

Obtain a Zoom subscription to offer:

  • virtual journeys where 2 clubs meet over ZOOM
  • platform to share new ideas between clubs
  • skill building presentations, virtual excursions/scavenger hunts to keep people interested in travel, social activities like bridge, meet-ups, games night, book clubs, etc.
  • Offer step-by-step tutorial on how to use Zoom
  • FF Ottawa will share the recording of a Zoom presentation on cybersecurity given by Older Adults and Students for Intergeneration Support (OASIS)

Increase the likelihood that social activities will get organized and be well attended:

  • Share the responsibility amongst club members (have an experienced member work alongside someone who is new to planning/coordinating social activities) or share responsibility with another club.
  • Make sure events are fun, not a ton of work and offer food.
  • Walking groups and museum/gallery tours are easy to organize, suitable for all ages, potential recruitment activity where non-members can be included and where members can wear badges that may draw the attention of non-members on the trail or at gallery, and can help you discover parts of your town/city that could be added to inbound journey programs.
  • Offer some activities on weekends for working members and their friends

Dinners:  Organize a pot-luck dinner club where 4 couples rotate location, and menu items 4 times a year. Invite prospective members to these dinners so they can meet other without an expectation that they contribute to the meal.  Organize dinners where individuals like international students or members of diverse community groups are invited

Membership Application Forms:  Include questions such as: former travel experiences, former or current membership on other boards or membership in other organizations.

Early engagement of new members:Have one or two spots on the Board/Leadership Council available to new members. Involve new members on planning committees that are focused on working. Introduce them to videos on how to be a good host, ambassador (available from FF Ottawa). Assign a mentor to each new member. 

Phone Chains:  Organize a phone chain within your club to add a more personal touch to certain communications within your group.

New members: invite them to join the Executive Committee. They don’t need to have specific responsibilities, but the EC can benefit from their new ideas.

Invite a new member to a club dinner. Variation: to avoid the effect “come to a restaurant … and it will cost you $ 30”, use the pot luck / shared meal approach. Example: A new member owned a deer farm, and several people asked him questions about it. Opportunity: The club organized a “modified” dinner sharing where the new member cooked deer dishes, and 2 other members took care of providing the rest. Members had to pay $ 20, and it was 50% for new members. The organizers were reimbursed for their expenses, and the proceeds went to the club.

Arrange visits with members of the places visited with foreign ambassadors.

Accommodation hosts – difficulty finding: one can try to find a family that is not a member if they would like to host. It works best if there is a common theme (for example: people who speak Spanish for Spanish speakers)

Invite members who can no longer be a night host to be a day host, host for a dinner, participate on the organizing committee, etc.

Former members still active: we have noticed, especially in the USA, that several members who can no longer travel still participate in the dinners. (I believe these pay a reduced annual fee). This club culture does not seem to be very popular in Quebec – someone has said to sell FFI not only as a travel club, but also as a friendship club.

The organization, by a new member, of weekly walks on Sundays, followed by a lunch at the restaurant, to revitalize the club after the health restrictions are released.

One cultural visit, or activity, per month

Online quiz during the pandemic

Importance of organizing regular social activities and inviting old and new members. Follow up either by email or phone after activities.

Consider putting some emphasis on domestic travel, especially for 2022; members may be reluctant to travel internationally due to the pandemic, there may be access restrictions for travel to certain countries, some members no longer want to take long trips, etc.

Consider arranging domestic trips of shorter duration, say 3-4 days which could be with a single club or multi-club. This may better accommodate people who are not retired, those who prefer a shorter time for many reasons. Invite people who are not members but who might be interested.