Webinar 5/5: The Most Underrated Club Metrics

Jonas Club Software & GGA Partners to Co-host a Webinar Revealing the Most Underrated Club Metrics

Markham, ON Canada – Join Jonas Club Software and GGA Partners, the trusted advisors to the golf, private club, and leisure industries, in a special webinar event, discussing the most underrated club metrics that clubs should be paying attention to in 2021. With private clubs undergoing so much transformation in the last 12 months, many clubs are experiencing trends of rapid change and, as a result, require a plan to monitor membership like never before.

Focusing on metrics to help club management make more informed decisions, the session will cover metrics focusing on membership demographics, risk, spending and utilization. The session will be co-presented by Trevor Coughlan, VP of Marketing and Mark Darling, Product Manager – MetricsFirst, of Jonas Club Software, and Derek Johnston, Partner and Martin Tzankov, Senior Manager of GGA Partners.

The session will take place on Wednesday, May 5th, 2021 at 1:00 P.M. ET.

If you would like to attend this 45-minute session, registration is available for free by visiting: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6315081732484665869.

Register for free →

 

About Jonas Club Software

Jonas Club Software helps clubs thrive by focusing on the creation of exceptional experiences. These experiences are delivered through industry-leading services, integrated applications, innovative technology, and long-term partnerships with the clubs we serve.

Over 2,300 clubs in more than 20 countries, with memberships ranging from 20 to 20,000, utilize Jonas Club Software technology. With applications ranging from Accounting to Retail Point of Sale, Tee Time Management, Court & Class Booking, Dining Reservations, websites and Mobile Apps, Jonas Club Software is the standout choice for clubs driven to offer exceptional member experiences. For more details visit www.jonasclub.com.

 

About GGA Partners

GGA Partners™ is an international consulting firm and trusted advisor to many of the world’s most successful golf courses, private clubs, resorts, and residential communities. We are dedicated to helping owners, asset managers, club and community leaders, investors and real estate developers tackle challenges, achieve objectives, and maximize asset performance.

Established in 1992 as the KPMG Golf Industry Practice, our global team of experienced professionals leverage in-depth business intelligence and proprietary global data to deliver impactful strategic solutions and lasting success. GGA Partners has offices in Toronto, Ontario, Phoenix, Arizona, Bluffton, South Carolina, and Dublin, Ireland. For more information, please visit ggapartners.com.

 

Media Contact:
Trevor Coughlan
Vice President, Marketing
Jonas Club Software
Trevor.Coughlan@jonasclub.com
1-888-789-9073

GGA Partners Speakers Featured at CMAA 2021 World Conference and Club Business Expo

Sessions will focus on strategy, member feedback mechanisms, the next generation of club members, club trends, and member communications.

TORONTO, Ontario – Skilled specialists from GGA Partners, a trusted advisor to golf courses, private clubs, resorts, and residential communities around the world, will be presenting trends and tactics on a variety of subjects during the Club Management Association of America (CMAA) 2021 World Conference and Club Business Expo this week.

As with other major conferences in 2020 and 2021, the CMAA World Conference will be virtual, allowing attendees to login and learn effective ways to manage member feedback, attract the next generation of members, the latest industry trends, and how to effectively communicate their brand message.

GGA Partners specialists will lead the following discussions:

Monday, March 8 – Ask the Experts

Michael Gregory, a partner in the firm will join Trevor Coughlan from Jonas Software for a thirty-minute “Ask the Expert” session to discuss club feedback systems for members and customers.

Tuesday, March 9 – Setting Strategy for Long-Term Success

Partners Henry DeLozier, Stephen Johnston, Derek Johnston, Michael Gregory and Craig Johnston will be joined by several directors and managers to lead a three-hour session using real-life case studies allowing managers to interact and learn from each other with the GGA team providing ideas and solutions to enhance processes, research, and efficiency.

Thursday, March 11 – Adopting Proven Methods of Engaging the Next Generation of Club Members

Michael Gregory will lead a panel of club managers from Desert Mountain, Prairie Dunes Country Club, The Briar Club, and The Country Club through a discussion of their perspectives on how clubs can adapt and develop their offerings to meet the needs of the next generation of members and customers.

Thursday, March 11 – Ask the Experts

GGA Manager Bennett DeLozier will join Amilcar Davy from CMAA to discuss early results from the CMAA Trends Survey entitled A Club Leader’s Perspective: Emerging Trends & Challenges.

Friday, March 12 – Keys to Effective Communications

GGA Director Linda Dillenbeck and Manager Bennett DeLozier will share insights into the steps club managers can take to ensure their communications are clear, concise, and effective.

“Our business is helping clubs, large and small, to operate more effectively,” commented Derek Johnston, a partner in the firm. “The CMAA World Conference provides an outstanding platform to share knowledge and experiences with club leaders from around the globe.”

 

 

About GGA Partners

GGA Partners™ is an international consulting firm and trusted advisor to many of the world’s most successful golf courses, private clubs, resorts, and residential communities. We are dedicated to helping owners, asset managers, club and community leaders, investors and real estate developers tackle challenges, achieve objectives, and maximize asset performance.

Established in 1992 as the KPMG Golf Industry Practice, our global team of experienced professionals leverage in-depth business intelligence and proprietary global data to deliver impactful strategic solutions and lasting success. For more information, please visit ggapartners.com.

 

Media Contact:

Bennett DeLozier, Manager
GGA Partners
bennett.delozier@ggapartners.com
602-614-2100

Connect with GGA Partners at the #CMAAVirtual Conference

Connect with GGA Partners at the 2021 #CMAAVirtual World Conference & Club Business Expo
March 8-12, 2021

The 2021 CMAA World Conference & Club Business Expo offers five days of stellar educational programming and the opportunity for those in club management to refresh their skills and industry knowledge, connect with fellow professionals, and explore the latest innovations and best practices.

Each year, we at GGA Partners look forward to syncing up with club managers to celebrate their successes, learn more about the challenges they are facing, and help them develop and implement a game plan for success.

As a long-standing CMAA Business Partner, we jump on every opportunity to facilitate education sessions which bring club managers together for knowledge-sharing and thought-leadership. In the hope that our paths will cross, you are invited to register for any or all of GGA’s education sessions, engagements, and activities.

Otherwise, swing by our virtual exhibitor booth, help yourself to some of our latest insights and resources, and be sure to get in touch with us by saying hello in the chat, scheduling a meeting, or dropping us a line. Let’s have a conversation about what you and your club are working on in 2021, we are always willing to assist club managers.

 


Monday, March 8

Networking Break: Ask the Expert – Feedback Systems

1:30pm-2:00pm EST

Join Trevor Coughlan from Jonas Software and Michael Gregory of GGA Partners to ask questions and discuss club feedback systems for members and customers.

ADD TO YOUR SCHEDULE

 


Tuesday, March 9

In-Conference Workshop: Setting Strategy for Long-term Success

11:00am-2:00pm EST
*Requires separate registration

Strategic planning is on everyone’s mind these days. One of the most frequent questions about strategy seems to be “Given the current environment, how do we actually set strategy for long-term success and sustainability?” and followed closely by “How do we implement a strategic plan in our club?”

This three-hour session is a hands-on approach using real-life case studies, allowing managers to interact and learn from each other, with the GGA team providing ideas and solutions. The session will leverage GGA’s processes, research, and experience and provide engaging opportunities for delegates to contribute.

During the first half of the session, participants will have the opportunity to learn from the GGA team and subject matter experts in strategic planning, governance, communications, member feedback, market research, financial planning, and analysis.

During the second half of the session, participants will be separated into smaller virtual breakout rooms with fellow club managers. In these virtual rooms, participants will have the opportunity to share their initial thoughts about the case and discuss solutions with their peers. The breakout rooms will subsequently rejoin to form one large group, at which point participants will be asked to respond to questions about the case using real-time polling software. Responses to the poll are individual and anonymous. This dynamic session will allow participants to see how their responses compare to their peers and hear from GGA how their answers may differ from industry best practices.

The session will conclude with the case solutions being shared with participants. By the end of the session, participants will achieve a better understanding of the importance of strategic planning for private clubs, proven processes for setting long-term successful and sustainable strategies, how strategic plans are implemented and become advocates for strategic planning at their respective clubs.

Join the GGA team: Henry DeLozier (Partner), Stephen Johnston (Partner), Derek Johnston (Partner), Michael Gregory (Partner), Craig Johnston (Partner), Patrick DeLozier (Director), Fred Laughlin (Director), Eric Brey (Director), Linda Dillenbeck (Director), Bennett DeLozier (Manager), and Ben Hopkinson (Manager).

ADD TO YOUR SCHEDULE

 


Wednesday, March 10

Club Business Expo

12:30pm-1:30pm EST

Swing by the GGA Partners virtual exhibitor booth, help yourself to some of our latest insights and resources, and be sure to get in touch with us by saying hello in the chat, scheduling a meeting, or dropping us a line.

VISIT THE GGA PARTNERS BOOTH

 


Thursday, March 11

Adopting Proven Methods of Engaging the Next Generation of Club Members

10:30am-11:30am EST

Research findings highlight how clubs can adapt and develop their offerings to meet the needs of the next generation of members and customers. Hear from four managers whose clubs are quite different, and whose perspectives represent the next generation of club managers. The panel discussion will provide valuable insights about Millennials, the challenges they face, and the opportunities for clubs to be more relevant to the next generation of club members in their membership structure and pricing, offerings, and experiences provided.

Join Michael Gregory (Partner, GGA Partners), Jay Johnson (GM/COO, Prairie Dunes Country Club), Daniel Moreno (The Briar Club), Kristen LaCount (GM, The Country Club), and Passion Graham (Clubhouse Manager, Desert Mountain Club).

ADD TO YOUR SCHEDULE

 

Networking Break: Ask the Expert – Club Trends

1:30pm-2:00pm EST

Join Bennett DeLozier from GGA Partners, and Amilcar Davy from CMAA, to discuss early results from the CMAA Trends Survey entitled A Club Leader’s Perspective: Emerging Trends & Challenges.

ADD TO YOUR SCHEDULE

 

Club Business Expo

3:30pm-4:30pm EST

Swing by the GGA Partners virtual exhibitor booth, help yourself to some of our latest insights and resources, and be sure to get in touch with us by saying hello in the chat, scheduling a meeting, or dropping us a line.

VISIT THE GGA PARTNERS BOOTH

 


Friday, March 12

The Keys to Effective Communications

12:30pm-1:30pm EST

Join Linda Dillenbeck (Director, GGA Partners) and Bennett DeLozier (Manager, GGA Partners) for insights into the steps club managers can take to ensure their communications are clear, concise, and effective. In this session, we’ll discuss how clubs can forge stronger bonds with members, and successfully engage prospective members in the wake of these fundamental shifts in perceived value.

ADD TO YOUR SCHEDULE

 


 

About GGA Partners

GGA Partners™ is an international consulting firm and trusted advisor to many of the world’s most successful golf courses, private clubs, resorts, and residential communities. We are dedicated to helping owners, asset managers, club and community leaders, investors and real estate developers tackle challenges, achieve objectives, and maximize asset performance.

Established in 1992 as the KPMG Golf Industry Practice, our global team of experienced professionals leverage in-depth business intelligence and proprietary global data to deliver impactful strategic solutions and lasting success. For more information, please visit ggapartners.com.

Bringing Innovation and Creativity to Events (Case Study)

However big or small the event, there’s always reason to inject creativity and innovation to make it memorable for all involved. This is an approach Medinah Country Club has pioneered for over 95 years. So, what are they doing, and what can you learn? We turned to General Manager and Chief Operating Officer, Robert Sereci, for the answers.

In what ways have you brought innovation and creativity to the events you have hosted?

While we have brought innovation to many events, at Medinah Country Club we view innovation as a strategic advantage that we leverage across all facets of club operations. From food and beverage to technology, innovation plays a critical role in our success.

Despite our significant recent investments in amenities, we realize that, ultimately, these amenities are only vehicles to facilitate relationships and strengthen our community.

Our approach to events focuses on larger, traditional club events like Easter, Mother’s Day and Halloween, while consistently developing smaller events, focused on appealing to a targeted demographic who share similar interests and passions.

We also work around the seasons. Many are surprised that a golf-centric club like Medinah hosts events around ice skating, sledding, and cross-country skiing in the winter months. But this keeps members engaged, mixing with other members and makes the club more a part of their everyday lives. We even host roller skating, where we convert our ballroom into a roller rink!

Family involvement is also key, and offers an opportunity for us to be creative. For instance, we invite families to join our executive chef for an educational experience as he taps our trees for maple syrup, to learn about egg production from our farm hens, and to learn how honey is harvested from our three bee colonies, all on our club property.

We also sprinkle in ingredients which are true to Medinah, and showcase the best of what we have to offer. Our Medinah Food Truck regularly roves around the property serving parties, and we use our portable wood burning oven or smoker to supplement indoor and outdoor club events.

Who drives this commitment to innovation, and why is it so integral at Medinah?

In our case, my team and I drive this commitment. I suspect this is not that different for most other clubs. Club Boards genuinely demand innovation from their management team, yet they embrace and find comfort in conformity. Clubs are notorious for conforming with the majority and have learned to embrace the status quo in order to align with the opinions and behaviors of neighboring clubs. This pressure to conform can have a significant negative impact on management’s engagement, creativity, and ability to innovate, and ultimately the club suffers.

Innovation is not important for innovation sake. As more clubs expand their offerings and amenities become ubiquitous, we, as clubs, must shift our focus from building structures to building memories. Like the corporate world outside our gates, we have migrated into an “experience economy,” where our members place greater importance on experience. Fitness centers, spas, and racquet courts are now the norm and very few members get impressed by these shiny new toys. Today’s members are looking for, and paying for, memorable unique experiences. These unique experiences are what makes successful clubs stand out in the eyes of the current and prospective membership.

How do you capture new, creative ideas AND make them happen?

Capturing ideas is the easy part – getting buy-in and execution is the hard part.

There is no shortage of ideas. My team and I look not only to our peers for ideas, but more importantly, we look at what others outside of our industry are doing and determine if and how it is applicable to us. The truth is, many of our innovative ideas at Medinah may be innovative for the club space, but in reality, they are almost common practice in the public space. Clubs are too quick to dismiss ideas from other segments by thinking “that would never work here.” While that may sometimes be true, we seek out those principles or ideas that would work and determine what we would need to do in order for those ideas to be successful at Medinah.

What’s your best example of bringing innovation to a high-profile event? What made it successful?

While many clubs go out of their way to squash nonconformity, at Medinah, we encourage it. I genuinely promote constructive nonconformity. That type of thinking is how we introduced the Tiny House Hospitality Package during the recent BMW Championship hosted at Medinah. The goals were twofold:

How can we create a unique memorable spectator experience and capture additional hospitality at a mid-range price point? The answer – place several Tiny Homes at specific locations on the golf course.

This was the pitch – Ever dream of watching a professional golf tournament from your backyard? Now you can. Introducing the Tiny House Hospitality Package for the 2019 BMW Championship. Invite your friends and colleagues to watch the top 70 players tee off just feet from your fenced backyard. In addition to witnessing the tournament up close, you will have access to a tiny house with all the accommodations of a home.

Not only was this the first time a Tiny House has been used in this way, but also the first time a Tiny House has been featured on a course during a professional tournament. This was a massive success and will likely now be a standard hospitality offering for future tournaments. The positive press we received was truly remarkable.

What else can other clubs learn from Medinah, whether they are staging high-profile events or member events?

In order to foster innovation, you must have a culture that not only encourages those who are innovative, but, more importantly, doesn’t penalize those who fail. Too many clubs focus on the ideas and innovation, and not enough on developing a culture of trust, where innovation and creativity is celebrated.

As the COO at Medinah, I have worked tirelessly to strengthen the trust between myself and the board. The board has provided me with a large safety net. In return, I have provided my team with an even larger safety net, allowing them to take risks and challenge the status quo. There are very few mistakes my team can make that I cannot get them out of.

Clubs must become comfortable with the unknown. If you want to accomplish something unique and memorable, you must be willing to take on risk. In general, clubs are culturally rigid and, as a result, are very risk averse. Club boards and members have a very low tolerance for failure and so club managers take fewer risks, thus, innovation comes to a standstill. Arguably, clubs with greater recognition and resources can afford to take more risk, but I believe the exact opposite to be true. When a small, unrecognizable club fails, the city may be aware; however, when a club with a global brand fails, the whole world will know.

How to Develop an Enviable (and Profitable) Events Calendar

A thriving events calendar, if delivered well, can propel member satisfaction and loyalty to new levels. But first you need to understand what works, and how to measure event success. We enlisted the help of GGA’s Patrick DeLozier, who has over 14 years’ experience delivering events at some of the top clubs in the country, to explain what clubs need to know.

A thriving events calendar has been a staple at the top clubs I have been fortunate to manage in recent years. Are they hard work? Yes, absolutely. Are they worth it? Without a doubt.

I have witnessed first-hand how events create memorable and meaningful moments in people’s lives, strengthening the bonds they have with a club and enriching relationships with other members.

While a number of events you deliver may not quite achieve this ‘magic’, there is a formula and steps you can take to deliver a compelling events calendar.

Keeping it fresh

The key to delivering outstanding club events lies in not standing still. Inject some creativity and fresh ideas into each and every event. This does not mean needing to stage new events every year, but adding new twists or new dimensions to established, traditional ones.

Sometimes this could be as simple as hosting an event in a different area of your property. Not only does this create a different ambience, it also serves to introduce members to parts of the property they may not normally see, or facilities they may not typically utilize. This is something we would routinely do at Augusta National to great success and satisfaction amongst members.

Timing it right

Simply put, one of the critical things to get right is timing. It can be easy to overlook, but so fundamentally important. Clubs of a certain size will need to communicate with other departments to avoid internal date conflict with other events, but all managers should also be attuned to events happening elsewhere either in the community or beyond.

Sports events, school events or charity fundraising events may all impact your club’s event calendar, so don’t fall into the trap of choosing the wrong date and marketing the event before needing to change. The same can be true of major sporting events such as the Super Bowl or The Ryder Cup. Set dates carefully, then market them with confidence and assurance.

Understanding what works

Fundamentally, you want members to engage with and enjoy the events your club chooses to stage. And when it comes to measuring success, their satisfaction should feature prominently. But events need to be well attended for them to be viable, both from a satisfaction standpoint for members and commercial standpoint for the club.

At the point of conception or planning, it will help to determine what constitutes reasonable participation numbers for particular events. This will provide a sound barometer of success not only for the current year, but future years too. If the popularity of certain events begins to grow, you can begin to unpick the reasons why and use the insights to fuel ideas for new ones.

When it gets to the events themselves, attend. Especially If you are relatively new to the club; it will give you the opportunity to engage with members and see for yourself how the events are received. Although we want to put a measure next to all aspects of an event, sometimes you have to accept some events carry a special aura – which you can only experience by being there.

Beyond the event, there can be a tendency to focus on what’s next, but don’t miss out on the crucial feedback and insights. There should always be a team debrief for those involved in the event delivery. Typically, we would spend 10% of the time on what went well and 90% of the time on how we could improve, with all staff and committee members challenged to come up with new ideas covering all aspects of event delivery.

Externally, send a feedback form to event attendees (do this quickly, so that you collate as many insights from the most members possible while the event is still fresh in their memory). This will enable you to identify areas for future improvement and pick up on any negative feedback (where appropriate).

Bringing it all together

By implementing this defined approach to event delivery, from planning through to evaluation, you will establish a culture of measuring success, defining continuous improvement, and translating this through to the events you choose to stage.

Combine this with a sprinkling of creative flair and you should have the basis for a calendar of thriving, well-attended events.

It may take some time to get there, but the impact on member satisfaction and the bottom line will be more than worth waiting for.

Boosting Your Club’s Brand Through Events

Sustaining a lively events calendar can be challenging – on a practical level, operational level and commercial level. However, even though they may not always pay their way, they are fundamentally important to conveying what your club is, and what it represents. GGA’s Linda Dillenbeck explains why.

Beyond access to an enjoyable round of golf, people join golf and country clubs to socialize with each other and participate in unique experiences. To many, the social aspect of country club life is even more important than the golf, particularly when only one member of the household is an avid player. Whether it is a member/guest golf event, wine tasting dinner, holiday celebration or speaker series, events will build relationships and friendships within the membership that will increase the sense of community throughout the club.

Equally important is the fact that well-planned and thoughtful events will provide the Club the opportunity to enhance its reputation and standing among members. One of the best things that can happen after an event is to have participants telling their friends about the incredible experience, which creates a desire to be part of that experience.

Anyone who has planned an event understands that success doesn’t happen by accident. Rather it requires a combination of creativity, organizational skills, cooperation and, most importantly, a keen attention to detail.

Present Your Brand in a Creative and Consistent Manner

The type of events to include on your club’s social calendar should reflect “who you are” as a Club, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be fun and have a creative theme that sets your event apart from the myriad of options available to private club members.

Creativity does not have to mean expensive. As a private club member I recently spoke with told me, “My favorite event is the Show Up and Shut Up Halloween tournament.

“Everyone comes dressed in costume and on two holes you hit your drive wearing a pumpkin on your head. It’s so different from so many other events in which I play and provides an entire day of fun and entertainment for my guests.”

While a Show Up and Shut Up event might not be in keeping with your brand image, that should not discourage your creativity in developing themes and memorable touches more in keeping with your brand. This might be a badge of honor tee gift (think beyond shirts, hats and golf equipment), a surprise egg with a special present in the annual Easter celebration or a wine not available to the general public presented by the winemaker during a special dinner. Your goal should be to think different, because when you do, your brand and club will become known for its must-attend events.

The Devil is in the Detail

Small details can have a big impact. They can be the difference between a good event and a great event, between memorable and forgettable, or the difference between clearly communicating who you are and being vague and predictable.

Are all names spelled properly on place cards? Are the pins set in spots that will allow for a quick pace of play? Is there an adequate quantity of the proper wine glasses for the tasting? Can your team identify all members by name? Is there adequate signage to direct guests to the proper place within the club? All of these questions and more should be asked and answered before event day.

Events Create Content

Another benefit of a robust event schedule is that is provides fresh content for your club newsletter, social channels and website. To capture the content, a staff member should be assigned the task of taking photos, not only of the members and guests, but of the special details. For example, the place setting for a wine dinner, the line-up of carts or the baskets of treats to be given out during a Halloween event. Pictures are a very effective way to tell your event story so create a wish list of the images you want and need, and take plenty.

To encourage participants active on social media to post about their experience create a hashtag of your event name and include it on invitations, golf carts and tables. This will help to expand your story across all social platforms.

When appropriate, it is beneficial to consider inviting a prominent member of the media to participate in your event. For example, the food writer might be invited to a wine tasting dinner or the business editor could be invited to a speaker series session featuring a noteworthy presenter.

Successful events don’t happen by accident. They require a lot of hard work. But when done properly, events will provide members and their guests with experiences they can’t get anywhere else. When that happens, your brand becomes the talk of the town – and that will deliver prospects to your door.

Managing Your Club Identity

A private club’s brand is not the same as a chain of hotels or other hospitality business. It’s more personal, more emotional. And when it comes to the set of services, programs and events it offers, they should reflect this emotionally charged identity. GGA Partner, Henry DeLozier, explains how to manage a private club brand and realize what a powerful an asset it can be.

Your brand is in everything you do…and fail to do.

In the Old West days of the open range, where livestock roamed freely across the land, brands were burned into the hides of cattle to identify the ownership. For them, “branding” was a formalized approach of asset demarcation.

Unfortunately, even today, many private club leaders still think that a brand is simply an iconic mark, like that on the rump of a cow, indicating ownership. In the book Principles of Marketing, authors Philip Kotler and Gary Armstrong show that a brand is defined as a “name, term, sign symbol (or a combination of these) that identifies the maker or seller of the product.” However, the concept of brand has advanced significantly from the notion that a trademark could serve as a brand.

Today, brands are stories. They are an intentional assortment of identifying characteristics of goods and services. And leading brands are carefully developed and aimed at pre-identified market segments whose wants, needs, and expectations align with the intended benefits of the product.

Many private club leaders mistakenly believe that their club is a brand similar to Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, or other businesses that promise superior hospitality services and amenities. A club’s brand – like a private club itself – is highly emotional, and the way the brand is managed must align with that.

In a private club, the brand establishes a promise of services, programs, and events which – together – constitute a promise of emotional reward. The manager will know and use your name, servers will know your preferences, other members will know you to be a person of accomplishment and social standing – thus, the club’s brand is in every interaction and memorable moment.

Following are three disciplines that every club leader should exercise in recognizing and managing their club’s brand:

1. Become knowledgeable about the power of brand.

This requires that club managers and leaders understand the market segments being served by their clubs. Careful market analysis identifies the psychographic motivations that make one club more attractive to members than another. The emotional context of private clubs requires that club leaders understand the human side of what motivated their members to join the club. Status, aspiration and recognition is far more important to club members than price. Club membership is not a transactional relationship.

2. Remain alert to proper brand management methods.

Use the club’s brand to establish and maintain a position of authority for the lifestyle promise made by the club.

Brand management is a full-time job. Seth Godin, the brand and marketing guru who has written some 18 books on related topics, says, “In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is a failure. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.”

Given that most private club markets in North America and Europe are significantly over-supplied, the successful clubs are those able to stand out from the crowd and achieve genuine market differentiation. “The easiest thing is to react. The second easiest is to respond. But the hardest thing is to initiate,” Godin adds.

Three keys to managing your club’s brand are (1) leveraging your unique selling position to promote your strengths, (2) use marketing and communications to increase brand awareness, and (3) develop your brand internally so your members can attract their friends.

3. Use your brand to develop relationships.

Empower members to promote the club’s brand through the stories you tell about your club.

When it comes to private clubs, people are attracted by two key elements: brand factors (the key distinguishable traits of your brand), and buyer relationships and stories (how members came to be members, what influenced their decision and how the club now plays a significant role in their day to day lives).

Understand that your club brand is not a trademarked transaction – it is the stuff of imagination and achievement. Godin summarizes this truth observing, “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make but about the stories you tell.”

This article was authored by GGA Partner Henry DeLozier.

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.

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

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