If your club is relevant, it is closely connected to members’ lifestyles and appropriate to their wants and needs. But how do you determine if your club really is relevant? GGA’s Ben Hopkinson offers three points of guidance to help you self-evaluate and a handful of tactics to deploy in response.
Longevity requires relevance.
Survival in the modern club economy hinges on your club’s ability to remain relevant, both to existing members and prospective ones.
While building relevance is often the easy part, sustaining it is trickier. If left unmonitored, relevance diminishes as the years pass and the club’s value proposition suffers alongside member retention and satisfaction.
What does it mean to be relevant?
A relevant club is closely connected to members’ lifestyles and appropriate to their wants and needs; it’s the ability of a club to instill the notion that, by being or becoming a member, it will enhance their own and/or their family’s lifestyle.
It’s a simple equation. The more relevant you are, or become, the better placed your club is to achieve high levels of member satisfaction, retention, and recruitment.
But how can you understand and become more relevant? Here’s some pointers:
1. Gain a deep understanding of your market and membership
Who are your members really?
The first step to becoming more relevant is knowing your members fully and dispassionately. A thorough understanding of your membership’s demographic, psychographic, and emotional characteristics allows for a tailored Club experience.
This means knowing the answers to questions such as: Where do members live? Where do they work? Do they belong to other local clubs or have vacation homes? Do they have children or grandchildren? What are their ages? How do they use the club?
Tracking utilization of each facility and space at your club allows you to understand the importance (and appropriateness) of each of them, helping to drive the strategy towards becoming more relevant.
Where does your club stand in the marketplace?
Get to know your potential market i.e. your members of tomorrow by sourcing demographic, psychographic, and participation data to quantify the number of candidates that match your member profile. Your market research should help you understand:
- Relative to your competitors, how are you positioned in terms of cost to join, payment plans, and annual cost to belong?
- What features and programming are your competitors offering that you don’t? And vice versa.
- How do your attrition rates and sales compare with industry targets or, if available, those of competitors?
This exercise allows you to understand your club in the context of the marketplace better and helps establish your competitive advantages and points of differentiation. Leveraging that knowledge, you can enhance or develop your club’s strategy around demand and where it has room to grow.
2. Focus on enhancing individuals’ lives (and the lives of their families)
While understanding your members and marketplace should be your primary starting point on the road to relevance, this is a snapshot of the successful shifts in the approach of clubs across North America in a bid to enhance what they offer:
Members have an appetite for experiences they can cherish and share with their families and friends, so offering tailored, unique and memorable opportunities can not only help build relevance, but the emotional connection members have with your club. Examples might include: tickets to the special events such as the PGA Championship, concierge-type experiences that only your club can facilitate, or access to speakers they would not be able to get in front of otherwise.
Intentional member networks
Offering clubs-within-the-club are very important in today’s environment because building communities and networks drives engagement and connection within the club.
Think about a robust speaker series, associating your club with other clubs or professional organizations in exclusive relationships, creating a wine club or travel groups.
Some clubs have developed virtual membership clubs with their speaker series or programming where members can pay a small monthly fee to participate remotely. It promotes continued engagement and also drives a new revenue stream with no impact to your facilities.
Diverse wellness programming
Physical health, in the form of fitness and wellness, remains highly relevant. The decision to add fitness is a leading trend that clubs are considering, particularly in seasonal and winter climates to keep members connected year-round.
Beyond adding a fitness facility, newer trends in wellness programming that are highly relevant include group exercise classes, off-site activities and excursions, ‘socializing’ fitness activities into events, and increasing the variety of fitness offerings and their frequency of change.
Your club’s wellness programming should not be limited to physical training. Mental exercise is just as critical as physical exercise in keeping one’s brain fit and healthy, introducing more wellness programming around brain health is relevant to your club’s longer-tenured members and can connect them with what are often construed as ‘young people’ activities.
Amenities that support year-round use and lifestyle
The ultimate goal is to make your club the third most important or relevant place in members’ lives, next to home and work. Amenities that best support year-round use and lifestyle benefits go beyond traditional sports to focus on the clubhouse and socialization aspects of membership.
The top amenities that our clients are considering include:
- Contemporary bar/sports lounge
- Multiple dining experiences
- Health and wellness facility
- Indoor golf teaching area with a bar and HD simulators
- Outdoor casual dining with fire pits
- Tennis/pickleball courts
- Outdoor pool featuring a modern children’s area and adult area with outdoor bar
- Babysitting/children’s play areas
3. Measure, evaluate and act
Member feedback is key.
Soliciting member feedback tightens the connection between the club (as an organization) and its members (as individuals). Capturing member feedback generates actionable insights to improve all aspects of the club experience, while also helping to isolate which are most critical to their wants and needs.
Relevance can be measured in many ways and the best indicators to watch are attrition levels and the demand to join your club. Constant member feedback is needed to be proactive and instill a culture of measuring, evaluating and acting.
The relevant club of tomorrow
Think about relevance on a spectrum. One that changes through different actions or developments.
For instance, introducing new family amenities shifts and broadens the spectrum more towards a younger demographic of members and prospective members.
Similarly, the introduction of mental health training shifts and broadens the spectrum more towards an elder demographic.
In any case, the objective should be to find your club’s sweet spot on this spectrum. As we already know higher relevance = higher levels of member satisfaction, retention and recruitment, so find and occupy a position which is relevant to as many stakeholders as possible. This, ultimately, will be your club’s gateway to longevity.
For help and advice on making your club more relevant to existing and prospective members,
connect with Ben Hopkinson.
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