After a modest start four years ago, Westwood Country Club’s popular Annual Car Show and Family Picnic is the Austin, Texas club’s seasonal kickoff event that now attracts over 150 members.
The mark of good club management is to be able to recognize, and run with, a good idea, no matter where it might have come from.
The management of Westwood Country Club in Austin, Texas has certainly demonstrated the payoffs that can come from having this ability, through the remarkable growth and evolution, over just four years, of its Annual Car Show and Family Picnic, which now serves as the club’s much-anticipated seasonal kickoff event.
|THE GOAL: Capitalize on interest in a member-initiated event to create an anticipated season-opening tradition at Westwood Country Club.
THE PLAN: Combine the growing popularity of a vintage car show with a family picnic that members can attend for free, thanks to a sponsorship arranged with a local car dealer.
THE PAYOFF: What began as a small gathering in the fall with 18 cars and 40 members has now grown to include 65 vehicles and over 150 members. The popularity of the Annual Car Show and Family Picnic prompted Westwood to reposition it as the kickoff event for its summer season—and move that kickoff up to early spring (the last Saturday in March). New activities like basketball and a moonwalk have also been added as the event has grown to “represent what the neighborhood club is all about.”
But it didn’t start out that way—in fact, it didn’t start out as a picnic at all, and calling it a “car show” was also a bit of a stretch. It began in the fall with what is now described as “a small get-together for some members who own vintage vehicles.” But buzz about the cars that were part of the gathering quickly grew, to the point where the club saw an opportunity to build a great season-opening event around the concept—and to have that opening earlier than usual.
Now, the Annual Car Show and Family Picnic, held on the last Saturday of March, is entrenched as an event the Westwood membership looks forward to each year. From 40 people and 18 cars four years ago, the event now attracts over 150 members who come to look at more than 65 vehicles. Those in attendance also enjoy free food, and drink, thanks to a sponsorship that was secured three years ago from Ferrari of Austin (which also adds to the appeal of the car-show component by bringing three of its sexiest models, including the new FF this year).
By transforming the event into a clubwide family picnic, Westwood has been able to open its pool and seasonal restaurant, the Lakeview Cafe, a week ahead of what the previous schedule called for. The club also opens its renovated basketball courts for play, and provides a popular children’s moonwalk.
“Our members are always amazed at the quality of the show,” says Dan Smith, Westwood’s Assistant General Manager. “Their reactions [as it has grown] have always been positive and encouraging, because it reminds them of what a neighborhood club is all about—a place for family and friends.”