Partnership Promises Leading Edge Analytics For Clubs

MetricsFirst and GGA partner to provide leading edge data analytics to the club industry.

TORONTO, Ontario – MetricsFirst and Global Golf Advisors (“GGA”) are pleased to announce the formation of a strategic partnership to provide leading edge data analytics to the club industry.

The MetricsFirst technology platform, combined with GGA’s deep analytical expertise will provide clubs around the world with seamless, real-time dashboard reporting and diagnostic and predictive analysis tailored to the specific needs of every key decision maker.

“We are excited to partner with Global Golf Advisors and offer MetricsFirst within our industry, assisting clubs with retrieving, analyzing, and taking proactive action based on the information that exists within multiple systems they are utilizing. We are providing the ability for clubs to make important strategic decisions through the data and metrics provided by MetricsFirst,” said Joe Oswald Chief Operating Officer at Jonas.

“GGA has provided data driven insights to the club industry for over 25 years. During that time period, we have been fortunate to help some of the world’s top clubs develop and implement a game plan for success – one that is informed and supported by business intelligence and data analytics,” explained GGA Partner, Derek Johnston. “We are thrilled to partner with the MetricsFirst team to translate GGA’s proven approach to analyzing club performance into an affordable, real-time data analytics platform.”

Derek Johnston added, “We view this partnership as a strategic pillar in our quest to continuously improve the tools and solutions we offer our clients.”

For more information on MetricsFirst please visit

For more information on GGA please visit

Media Contact:
Vache Hagopian
Managing Director of MetricsFirst

What’s Important to Know About Recruiting Millennials to Join the Club?

Occam’s Razor is the work of a Franciscan friar and theologian, William of Ockham, who reasoned that itis better to keep things simple when attempting to understand complicated ideas.  This is good advice for club directors and managers when trying to plan ahead.

The confusion begins in answering, “What do they want?” As club leaders’ eyes have turned from generation X to the millennial generation, a good source for answers can be found from Kris Hart, the co-founder and CEO of Nextgen Golf, whose motto is “Live Life.  Play Golf.”

Hart emphasizes two basic needs that clubs meet for millennials: flexibility and community.

“Millennials are often on the move and need flexibility for when they can play.  More importantly, having flexible membership costs and initiation fees are an important factor for millennials when joining a club,” says Hart.  “Some may not stay in one city for a long time, paying up-front costs are less attractive.”

According to Hart, millennials need to be part of something.  “Clubs that have younger members and a good community around the club are attractive.  Millennials rely heavily on recommendations from family and friends and want to hang out with people like them.”

Now the largest market segment in America, the millennial generation has high expectations, in general.  “Millennials expect to be treated the same as a full adult member and do not want to be restricted or looked down upon as a young adult member.” Hart advises.

And first impressions are important! According to Hart, “Technology expectations are continuing to increase.  The club’s digital presence and online reputation has become much more meaningful given millennials can go right to google and research everything about a club in a matter of seconds.”

Health and wellness are imperative for this generation.  Clubs that have gyms, fitness classes and embrace the health and wellness movement will be better prepared for this generation.

Millennials are getting married and having kids later in life than previous generations.  As Millennials continue to age, family-focused clubs are increasingly more important, Hart stresses.

Keep it simple if your club wants to attract millennial members.

This piece was authored by GGA Partner Henry DeLozier for the National Club Association’s Club Director quarterly magazine.  

Board Self-Assessment: 5 Steps to Evaluate Your Performance

Effective boards set goals and work to achieve them.  The best, top-performing boards execute an annual self-assessment of their performance.  This is the time of year to evaluate how your board performed in 2018.  To conduct a proper self-assessment each board should take the following five steps.

The self-assessment is a simple performance evaluation survey which requests answers ranging from “strongly disagree “to “strongly agree” with three levels of moderation in between (“disagree, neutral, and agree”).  This evaluation will yield the performance evaluation as a measure of results from one to five.

More detailed guidance for board self-assessment can be found in the NCA’s Board Toolkit (available to all members as a benefit of membership).

Step One – Evaluate Board Structure

This section of the assessment explores how well the board does its business.  Questions address issues of board organization, committee engagement and performance, and resources such as time allocation and staff support.

Questions in this step include the following:

  • The board has the right number of members.
  • The board has the right number of meetings.
  • There is adequate time in board meetings to address matters of importance.
  • Board meetings efficiently use time and human resources.
  • The board has adequate indemnification and D&O insurance coverage.
  • Board committees are constructive to effective club governance.
  • Committees have the right number of members.
  • Committee reports are timely submitted and require the proper amount of board review.
  • Committee assignments and charters reflect the best advice of the board.
  • Committee performance is right for the club’s current needs.

Step Two – Evaluate Board Information

The following types of questions validate the quality and use of information going to the board:

  • The club’s Board Policy Manual adequately communicates the duties and expectations of individual board members.
  • The board benefits from adequate pre-read time, information and materials to enable it to be effective.
  • Information provided the board is fully vetted and applicable to current and emerging conditions at the club.
  • Presentations by officers and staff are accurate and unbiased.
  • The board has adequate access to internal and external advisors (e.g., auditor, legal and risk management) to make informed decisions.

Step Three – Evaluate Board Dynamics

The following questions assess the dynamics or growth and changes exhibited by the board:

  1. The board addresses the right issues for the club.
  2. The board does what is right.
  3. The board clearly and timely communicates goals, objectives and results tithe members.
  4. The board properly balances its guidance and supervision of the general manager.
  5. The board promotes a culture of accountability at all levels of club governance.

Step Four – Individual Self-Assessment

Every board member must be accountable for his or her own work as a servant leader.  Questions that help to evaluate individual board member performance include:

  1. Engages in the board’s work.
  2. Understands the club’s strategy and strategic issues.
  3. Evaluates and fully understands club budgets.
  4. Understands and closely monitors the club’s financial performance.
  5. Respects the confidentiality of the board room in all matters.

Step Five – Board Communications

Members expect to know what the board is doing and what matters are being addressed.  Poor communication is one of the most frequently stated points of member dissatisfaction with club boards.

Communicate the board’s self-assessment and a composite assessment to the entire club membership.  Show the questions that were asked and the performance ratings that the board assigned to its own performance (not the individual scores).  Candid and genuine self-assessment of the board’s performance will build trust at the club.

Self-assessment is a form of the personal accountability that members expect of their leaders.  Communicating the results openly and honestly will make the club stronger and more capable of meeting the next generation of challenges.

This piece was authored by GGA Partner Henry DeLozier for the National Club Association’s Club Director quarterly magazine.  

Will Millennials Save Golf?

A few years ago, Time magazine published an exhaustive look at millennials titled “The Me, Me, Me Generation.”  The story took some shots at a generation characterized as “lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents,” but concluded that the world’s 80 million 18- to 34-year-olds will “save us all.”

Global Golf Advisors has done extensive research into what makes millennials tick – especially from a golf perspective – aimed at answering this question: “Will they also save golf?”

Their numbers portend their potential.  Millennials are responsible for the majority of purchases of everything from groceries to automobiles.  They’re also beginning to settle down, with careers, homes and kids of their own.  As they do, their global spending power is estimated in excess of $600 billion a year.

There are about 6.4 million millennial golfers, according to the National Golf Foundation.  That’s more than any golf cohort, other than 6.8 million Gen Xers, whose birth years are generally considered 1965 to 1984.  By contrast, there are 5.4 million baby boomers, once thought to be golf’s saviors, but now on the back nine of their golfing careers.  Here’s what else we know about millennials:

  • They are the first generation of tech natives. They practically teethed on their PCs, tablets and smartphones.  They love their phones, but hate talking on them.
  • They crave new experiences, even more than material goods.
  • They need to feel like what they’re doing is important.
  • They aren’t as willing as former generations to sacrifice their personal life to advance their careers.
  • They’re heavily influenced by product reviews, Q&A’s and photos posted by other consumers.

But what will it take to turn their potential into our reality?  Global Golf Advisors teamed up with Nextgengolf to survey millennial golfers across the U.S. Here’s what we learned:

The No. 1 reason millennials play golf is to hang out with friends.  That’s closely followed by enjoying being outdoors and athletic competition.  Interesting, business-related reasons, such as growing their network, were last on their list.  They just want to have fun.

The millennials in the survey who play at daily fee courses are frugal.  Slightly more than 80 percent want to spend $50 or less on a round of golf.  Sixty percent typically spend between $25 and $50.

Three-quarters of millennials will consider joining a private club in the future.  Twelve percent are already a private club member.  Nearly half of participating millennials plan on joining a private club within the next three to 10 years.

Factors influencing their decision to join a club also show the importance of the social side of the club experience.  The most important factor that influences a membership decision is a recommendation.  Eighty-three percent of survey respondents said encouragement from a friend, colleague or family member might cause them to join a club.  These are folks who are accustomed to reading reviews and acting on the recommendation of others.  The second most influential factor was a positive experience while attending a tournament or special event at the club.

For most, though, golf is not enough of a draw to join a club.  You must remember: millennials are social animals.  Many are involved in as many as 10 recreational activities.  That’s why a workout center, for example, is a valuable investment for clubs and golf facilities that want to increase their appeal to millennials.

Millennials like options and flexibility, and that characteristic was borne out in the portion of the survey focusing on entrance fees and dues.  Forty-one percent of millennials would prefer to pay more annually than pay an entrance fee to join a private club.  Approximately half said they would prefer an annual fee of $3,000 or less to belong to a club.

The challenge for clubs?  To create an environment that not only appeals to the new wave, but also one where members of all generations can co-exist.

This piece was authored by GGA Partner Henry DeLozier for Golf Course Industry Magazine.

Time to Deliver an Unforgettable Experience

Today, many club members are less inclined to splurge on a new set of clubs and more likely to allocate their time and money to sharing an experience with their friends and family. Not only are experiences ‘trending’, the experience economy is booming.

The economics are simple: people are spending more on doing stuff and less on buying stuff.

Consumers have recognized that sharing experiences with others generates a stronger and longer-lasting sense of happiness than buying a product does; for businesses this requires an approach to services which is more relational than transactional, more qualitative than quantitative.

This shift in demand creates a tremendous opportunity for clubs, because membership clubs are perfectly situated to capitalize on servicing the experiences of their members.

Here are nine tips to help clubs deliver experiences that are unforgettable for members:

1. Be mindful of when the ‘experience’ starts.

In many cases the experience may begin long before members are at the Club, or even before they have become members.

How your members become aware of the experience, the way they register or sign-up for it, the message they receive confirming their registration, a reminder or additional information they may receive about it, the availability of parking on the day, and the ambiance of their arrival at the Club are all contributors to the experience as a whole and the customer’s memory of it.

2. Use technology to create the feeling of a meaningful relationship.

The aim is to establish the sense of a one-to-one relationship between the club and the member, both offline and online, making the member feel known, welcome, and expected.

Understanding of their preferred methods of communication, their drink preferences or dietary restrictions, and, of course, knowledge of their name plays into the experience. Unless you have a superhuman ability to track this information mentally, let technology do the work for you.

3. Great experiences can be simple.

Remember that, in the experience economy, the commodity is happiness.

Experiences need not be expensive, elaborate, comprehensive, or enduring to generate fulfillment for members. Rather they need to be genuine and encourage socialization and relationship-building with others. In fact, research suggests that many consumers see experiences as affordable indulgences rather than major expenditures.

4. Food and Beverage is an easy place to start enhancing experiential offerings.

Members are increasingly interested in food and beverage experiences such as niche-based events for a small, targeted group of members. Examples might include wine tastings, whiskey samplings, trialing cigars, nine-and-dine type of events, or ‘dinner with the chef’ or ‘dinner in the kitchen’.

The key to ensuring these drinking and dining experiences deliver experiential value to members is to focus on facilitating interaction and engagement rather than the food product. In the case of wine and whiskey tasting, the value is not in the consumption of alcohol but rather in the shared experience of trying new things with companions. For ‘dinner with the chef’ the value is tied to the sense of exclusivity, intimate dining, and the feeling of having gotten something ‘extra’.

5. Lifestyle experiences are increasingly important in the experience economy.

Member interests are trending toward a desire for clubs to provide lifestyle experiences as opposed to continually new and upgraded amenities and facilities.

Members are seeking to define themselves by how they live versus what they own and they want customized, unique experiences. In particular, experiences relating to ‘off-site’ outings and excursions, travel and adventure, whole-family experiences, and the Club becoming a ‘home-away-from-home’ are becoming more and more common.

6. Stand out from the pack of local experiences.

Turn to your club’s most recent market research, as well as anecdotal data from fellow managers, to inventory which experiences other clubs around you are offering.

Assess which events are commonly hosted among a variety of competitors, then be bold and take a creative approach by doing something different. If your market is focused on experiences for adults, there may be an opportunity to pioneer an unmatched children’s experience.

7. Know when to cast a wide net.

It’s important to know when to focus on a niche group (for optimal satisfaction) versus a broad group (for maximal attendance). When trialing something new or adventurous for the operations team, cultivate experiences that: (a) draw from multiple sources of revenue such as admission or registration fees, food and beverage sales, transportation costs, or ancillary dues/fees (if it’s related to a club-within-the-club), and (b) appeal to multiple demographic segments such as adults, families, teens, and young-professionals.

8. Track, monitor, and evaluate experience metrics.

Key metrics which clubs should be tracking to make informed assessments regarding the experiences they offer include:

  • Satisfaction with the experience
  • Willingness to recommend the experience to others (Net Promoter Score)
  • Utilization or attendance
  • Value-for-money perceptions

Most of these can be tracked through member surveys, rolling Net Promoter Score surveys, spot polls, automated follow-up surveys, or through web analytics regarding which marketing emails or event promotions were most clicked, most shared, or generated the most conversion to attendance.

The goal here is to track metrics consistently over time and across experiences in order to compare performance and effectiveness.

9. Embrace that what qualifies as ‘unforgettable’ varies from member to member, but recognize that what constitutes ‘unforgettable’ remains the same.

We all want our experiences to be unique. However, behavioral scientists are suggesting that consumers are less likely to compare experiential purchases than they are material products. If the commodity is happiness, the happiness one member receives from a certain experience does not diminish because another member was happy with their separate experience.

This means that a golf trip to St. Andrews may be as rewarding an experience for one member as attending a 70’s themed father-daughter dance might be for another. In each case the object of happiness is different, however the happiness they experienced and shared with others – and are now sharing with one another – is the same.

This article was authored by GGA Manager and Member Satisfaction expert Bennett DeLozier.

What Makes Members Happy

“Establish an atmosphere which fosters a sense of community and belonging – that is fundamental to member satisfaction.” – GGA Senior Associate Martin Tzankov

In a recent interview, GGA Senior Associate Martin Tzankov revealed the results of member survey findings from a sample of private clubs that are subscribed to GGA’s Strategic Intelligence platform, all based in and around the Greater Ontario region in Canada.

The Key Findings of the sample study were these:

  • Social Atmosphere and Food & Beverage ratings were most directly related to overall club satisfaction
  • Golf Course and Practice Facility ratings did not strongly relate to overall member satisfaction
  • The Clubhouse Experience bears a moderate correlation to overall satisfaction

Martin went on to discuss the findings and why some aspects of club life are more closely linked to satisfaction than others in today’s market:

Did it surprise you that the golf course and practice facilities were not more directly linked to member satisfaction?

In some ways, yes. It’s something I imagine most club managers would think is number one when it comes to satisfaction. But in the context of members and membership, the course is something they know and that they (most likely) got to know before they joined. It may change or evolve over time, but this study suggests there are other aspects of their membership that are more directly related to their satisfaction at any one time.

Social atmosphere was found to be most directly related to club satisfaction. Is this an emerging trend that you have witnessed from other club data in recent years?

It’s definitely something we’ve seen over the years on a case-by-case basis through our engagements and this data reinforces our first-hand observations. A sense of community and belonging is so important to club members. This has actually not really changed over time, however the definition of what a sense of community and belonging is has certainly evolved. Increasingly, members are looking to be part of a club that is friendly and welcoming to families, and one that creates social opportunities for its members to interact and spend time with one another.

The notion of shared experiences, added to the distinct feeling of being part of something, does feel like the sweet spot all clubs should be striving to create for their members. This is backed up by the data and, I suspect, would be backed up by more far reaching extensive research too.

Why do you think Food & Beverage ranked so highly in relation to member satisfaction?

It’s almost the opposite to the golf course, in the sense that the food and beverage offering is something they are unlikely to have experienced many times, if at all, before they became members. So, by the time they become a member, if it does not meet their expectations, a survey tends to be where this is reflected.

Despite the questions relating to food quality, menu selection and the like, there’s a broader social context too. The club is somewhere a member wants to be proud of, perhaps even invite others along to experience – so when certain aspects are not up to the standard they expect, this can be a source of discontent.

With the findings of the study in mind, what one or two takeaways can you recommend to club managers with a view to improving the experience and satisfaction for their members?

I’d focus on bringing your members together – create opportunities for members to spend time and socialize together at the club on and off the golf course. A sense of community and belonging plays a pivotal role in member satisfaction.

The club should be viewed as the vessel which enables members to live out social experiences with other members, their families, friends and guests, so by opening up these opportunities, members can expand their network within the club and become more rooted in the social fabric.

When you observe your members using the club and its amenities through this lens, it can help empathize with what they care most about, or what voids may exist in the member experience.

Any final conclusions to draw from the findings?

The findings have reinforced our observations into which areas specifically impact member satisfaction most. But for the moment, this is really only an indication. We’ll soon be embarking on more extensive analysis, taking account of clubs further afield, looking more closely at individual responses and mapping these to member satisfaction. This will provide an even more robust basis to examine where clubs really need to focus their attention in order to enhance the experience for members.

Connect with Martin Tzankov

Selling Experiences

Does your club tap into the value of members’ experiences?  Engaging with the experience economy is the fastest-growing method of marketing services, and it will shape the futures of many clubs.

American Express now promotes hard-to-get tickets for special shows and performances. Red Bull promotes a super-terrestrial “Stratos Jump” to call attention to a life lived “on the edge”. Lean Cuisine promotes its “#WeighThis” campaign by asking potential customers to describe what they really wanted to weigh – as in, what really matters to you?

In the modern world, experiences are proving to be more engaging and inspiring than the long-standing product-features-and-benefits approach to marketing.

In their 1999 book, The Experience Economy, B. Joseph Pine II and James Gilmore offered an early glimpse of a then-current trend emerging… the swelling value of “experiences” over commoditized goods and services. Pine and Gilmore argued that people will place higher value on an experience than a simple transactional relationship.

Now, two decades hence, the experience economy is in full bloom, pushing top-performing clubs to create memorable “experiences” for their members. The memory itself becomes the product, and in private clubs today, members relish an unforgettable experience far more than a bargain.

What is the difference between an “experience” and a normal day at the club?

The term “Experience Economy” was first used in a 1998 article by Pine and Gilmore, describing it as the next economy following the agrarian economy, the industrial economy, and most recently, the service economy. The Experience Economy, as Pine and Gilmore described it, builds on concept that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

For affluent and accomplished people able to join a private club of almost any description, it is memorable experiences that deliver value to their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

“Experiences” in this context are pre-planned activities and events that are packed full of emotional, memorable, shareable impressions that are difficult for the uninitiated to duplicate. In their earliest uses in private clubs, these events were typically staged around dining and drinking entertainment events. Now, the sky is literally the limit in some clubs.

Experiential value is greater than fair-market value.

Pine gave the example of a birthday cake made faithfully each year by his mother who took her hard-earned cash to the grocery store for the eggs, sugar, flour and other cake ingredients. “Happy Birthday Joey” the cake declared, at an all-in cost of less than $2. However, when Joe’s mother eventually began to work outside of the home, she purchased cakes each year from the bakery for as much as $10.

Pine then fast-forwarded to another example from his own generation of parenting, during which he took his daughter and several of her friends to the American Girl store to buy dolls for each of the girls with all of the American Girl accoutrements – books, extra outfits, and a pre-packaged birthday party – all for roughly $300 per child. This experience prompted Pine’s question, “Do you want to be in the grocery business or the American Girl business?”

Club leaders face the same choice of selling either the parts of a happy event or the sum of the parts at a substantially higher amount.

What are examples of successful “experiences” in private clubs?

Clubs within clubs are often the basis for experiential opportunities in private clubs. The golfers schedule golf trips to Scotland, Ireland, and beyond. The wine club organizes travel to Napa, Sonoma, or the Finger Lakes region. Artistic members enjoy road-trips to Broadway, Hollywood and the touring shows across the country. Spirits and cigars are another point of interest for many club members.

Most clubs and club managers have introduced such programs already and wonder “what is next?” The next generation of interesting club experiences will come at the edges – both generationally and by interest segment. Following are three experiences to add new enthusiasm for your club:

Out of the mouths of babes – Most clubs offer decorating parties for children of the club by providing the necessary ingredients, like the gingerbread house and candies to adorn it. Using a simple handheld iPhone, clubs can record each child describing his or her gingerbread house and explaining why grandmothers and grandfathers will like certain parts of their festive creation.

Think bigger! Most clubs host parties and activities punctuated by music and a live band. Few clubs book cover bands “featuring” the Beatles, Rolling Stones, or the Beach Boys. Normally the bands are more expensive and – in most cases – worth it. Make the events at the club memorable.

The key is to book music that originated in the college-age years of the club’s members. So, if the average age of the club members is 60 deduct 20 years (to account for their average college age) and book music from 40 years ago. That means late ‘70s and early ‘80s is the music that will bring smiles to your members. Music makes most people happy and their happy music even more so.

Lifelong Learning – The value of new and interesting experiences is substantial among affluent and accomplished people who, generally speaking, make up most club members. Such people have the time and opportunity to learn throughout their lives, and private clubs can become a source of such learning experiences.

As aging Baby Boomers across the globe confront the trials of mental health, there is growing emphasis placed upon keeping one’s mind active, fit, and fresh. Private clubs are ideal settings to provide new opportunities for learning new lessons – whether a new language, a musical instrument, or the cultural history of a foreign land.

Pine and Gilmore were correct that the total value of an experience is far greater than its parts. The value of the experience economy is immense in private clubs, and so is the opportunity for those who have not yet engaged with it. There are plenty of options and alternatives that have already been proven in other clubs. The greatest success, however, will be found in innovative new ideas and unforgettable experiences.

This article was penned by GGA Principal and Partner Henry DeLozier