Hosting an open house is one way to celebrate your barn community and to introduce new riders to horses. Planning an event around a national effort such as the American Horse Council's “Time to Ride” initiative and the National Meet A Horse Day have the added benefit of pre-created advertising and larger promotion.
Coordinating a successful open house starts with preparation. Here are five things to consider before the day arrives.
- Follow state and local guidelines. COVID-19 has changed the flexibility any business has in welcoming visitors to a facility, especially in groups. Before advertising an event, find out what requirements you must follow to comply with social distancing and health requirements.
- Confirm your insurance. Take time to call your insurance agent to ensure that the policy you have covers an open house.
- Make it fun. Offer interactive activities like getting to meet the horses, educational games, demonstrations and raffles to get attendees involved and excited about your stable.
- Invite related organizations. Include local horse-related businesses, representatives from the local extension agency, nearby colleges or other entities that can offer resources for newbies getting involved in the equine industry. If your open house is targeting experienced horse owners rather than newcomers, invite veterinarians, farriers, feed representatives and other experts who can share their knowledge on different aspects of the industry.
- Offer giveaways. The opportunity for free food and a chance to win prizes always draws a crowd. Partnering with local businesses or manufacturers for items to include in giveaways can help keep the costs down while providing an added value to attendees. It might also be a good time to offer a discount on a new client’s first lesson, training or board to entice them to sign on as clients.
Open houses are one way to spread the word about your stable and continue to build goodwill with long-standing clients. They take time to plan, but they can be worth the effort.