Toowong Bridge Club recently commenced an 8 week trial of a new afternoon session (12.30 - 3.30 pm). This trial included the club's first ever walk-in policy for their members. This is something many clubs offer.
Basically, the session's director volunteered to be a non-playing director so that club members could come along if they were without a partner on the day. The director would be available to play with someone should they be required. Everyone is guaranteed a partner. (Many of the club members did not understand what a walk-in offer was.)
Their first session attracted 6 tables - 7 players were walk-ins. The second session had 3 walk-ins and 6 tables. Third session had 5 tables and 2 walk-ins (the Director read a book that afternoon), the fourth session attracted 7 1/2 tables with 3 walk-ins; the fifth session had 5 tables with 4 walk-ins (more reading done by the Director) and the sixth 7 tables with 1 walk-in.
The trial continues but the walk-in policy looks like a great success. Club members have been appreciative of being able to come along when their regular partner is unavailable or when they have had a commitment which would not enable them to play in their usual day session. Some advised that they were looking for a regular partner.
A few of the walk-ins during the trial period have now become fixed partnerships for the new session so the number of walk-ins has subsequently decreased.
Whilst the new session time is still in its trial period, the club has already planned for all of its sessions to include a walk-in policy from June this year. Club members have been asked to volunteer to be available for a session and this has met with a huge, enthusiastic response. Should a volunteer not be required, they will be provided with a voucher for a free game at a session of their choosing.
Early indicators are that this policy is also building a more friendly club where members are helping each other by making sure that all have an opportunity to enjoy their bridge. (The club did not want to impose on its directors to have to be non-playing as they are volunteers who already generously contribute their time and expertise.)
Why not introduce something similar in your club? It it an approach which has been successfully implemented in many clubs around Australia.