A Club Leader’s Perspective [2022]

A Club Leader’s Perspective: Emerging Trends & Challenges 

Latest research produced in collaboration with the Club Management Association of America examines the perspectives of private clubs and what trends are motivating their decisions.

In brief:

  • Industry survey of over 200 club leaders across North America highlights the perspective of club leaders on the current challenges facing the industry.
  • A Club Leader’s Perspective explores the state of the industry from the perspective of those in club leadership roles, and what influences their decisions.
  • Club leaders weighed-in on emerging trends and challenges across five primary areas:
    • Industry outlook within the post-Covid-19 ecosystem
    • Human resources and workforce demands
    • Membership experience and programming
    • Capital planning and long-range improvement strategies, and budgeting and forecasting
    • Inflationary impacts on service

We’ve taken the pulse of club leaders regularly since the start of the pandemic, including in-depth looks at challenges and sentiments in 2021. Over the past two years, many clubs were forced to adapt to evolving public health regulations, supply chain shortages, labor challenges and sky-rocketing membership levels. Despite these challenges, club leaders are largely positive about 2022. 

Access the full report for further insights.

Read now

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.

GGA Partners is proud to be a long-standing CMAA Business Partner.

About CMAA

Founded in 1927, the Club Management Association of America (CMAA) is the largest professional association for managers of membership clubs with 6,800 members throughout the US and internationally. Our members contribute to the success of more than 2,500 country, golf, athletic, city, faculty, military, town, and yacht clubs. The objectives of the Association are to promote relationships between club management professionals and other similar professions; to encourage the education and advancement of members; and to provide the resources needed for efficient and successful club operations. Under the covenants of professionalism, education, leadership, and community, CMAA continues to extend its reach as the leader in the club management practice. CMAA is headquartered in Alexandria, VA, with 42 professional chapters and more than 40 student chapters and colonies. Learn more at cmaa.org.

For further information, contact:

Samar Abdourahman
Manager, Marketing and Communications
GGA Partners
t: 416-333-5008
e: samar.abdourahman@ggapartners.com

A Club Leader’s Perspective: Emerging Trends & Challenges

GGA Partners Releases A Club Leader’s Perspective on Emerging Trends & Challenges Research Report

More than 500 club leaders weigh-in on trends, challenges, and pressing needs in club management emerging in the wake of the global health crisis. Now available for download.

TORONTO, Ontario (June 15, 2021) – GGA Partners, an international consulting firm and trusted advisor to many of the world’s most successful golf courses, private clubs, resorts, and residential communities, has released the results of an industry-wide research survey of more than 500 club leaders.  

The 2021 A Club Leader’s Perspective: Emerging Trends & Challenges report is a collaboration between GGA Partners and the Club Management Association of America. Researchers and analysts from both firms partnered in the development and analysis of the findings.

The research, which serves as a contemporary update on pressing needs in club management, takes a look at emerging trends and challenges from the perspective of those in club leadership roles, capturing insight from 515 club leaders, the majority of whom serve as general managers, COOs, and CEOs of private clubs in North America.

A Club Leader's Perspective: Emerging Trends & Challenges

Club leaders weighed-in on emerging trends and challenges across five primary areas: 1) industry outlooks and the ripple effects of COVID-19, 2) human resources and workforce demands, 3) the membership experience, value proposition, and programming, 4) capital planning and long-range improvement strategies, and 5) financial position, budgeting, and forecasting.

“Even before the pandemic, significant change was underway across the private club landscape,” explained Derek Johnston, a partner in the firm. “The crisis has not only accelerated these nascent changes but also introduced new obstacles and challenges for clubs to overcome. The findings of this report will be a useful reference tool for club leaders as they navigate an uncharted path forward and reset for growth beyond the coronavirus pandemic.”

This latest report is a continuation of the GGA Partners Perspective research initiative, a series of surveys the firm deployed in the spring of 2020 which dive into the attitudes, preferences, and industry outlooks of distinct club industry cohorts. The prior installment, A Member’s Perspective: The Shifting Private Club Landscape, featured findings from a global survey of more than 6,300 private club members on their attitudes toward the club industry during the pandemic and how they expect clubs to respond.

To view the research results and key insights found in A Club Leader’s Perspective: Emerging Trends & Challenges, click on the link below.

Download the report here

 

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.

About CMAA

Founded in 1927, the Club Management Association of America (CMAA) is the largest professional association for managers of membership clubs with 6,800 members throughout the US and internationally. Our members contribute to the success of more than 2,500 country, golf, athletic, city, faculty, military, town, and yacht clubs. The objectives of the Association are to promote relationships between club management professionals and other similar professions; to encourage the education and advancement of members; and to provide the resources needed for efficient and successful club operations. Under the covenants of professionalism, education, leadership, and community, CMAA continues to extend its reach as the leader in the club management practice. CMAA is headquartered in Alexandria, VA, with 42 professional chapters and more than 40 student chapters and colonies. Learn more at cmaa.org.

GGA Partners is proud to be a long-standing CMAA Business Partner.

 

Media Contact

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

Life in Flux: The Evolving Priorities of Millennial Golfers

GGA Partners logo

Nextgengolf logo

PGA of America logo

GGA Partners & Nextgengolf Release Findings from 5th Annual Research Study on Millennial Golf Community

2021 study reveals the habits, attitudes and preferences of over 1,600 millennial golfers.

TORONTO, Ontario (March 17, 2021) – Global consulting firm GGA Partners and Nextgengolf, a subsidiary of the PGA of America, have released the fifth annual Millennial Golf Industry study entitled “Life in Flux: The Evolving Priorities of Millennial Golfers.”

The 2021 Millennial Golf Industry Survey was conducted from November 2020-January 2021 and garnered responses from over 1,600 golfers whose average age was just over 29 years old.

Cover page of the 2021 millennial research report. Title reads "Life in Flux: The Evolving Priorities of Millennial Golfers". Subheader: "Over 1,600 millennial golfers share their habits, attitudes, and preferences about golf. New 2021 findings reveal what's changing and what isn't." Title and subheader overlay image of golf couple taking selfie near flagpin on green with sunset in the background.

Key highlights of the 2021 millennial golfer study include:

Average annual rounds played reached a new peak: 33.9 rounds, a 9% increase year-over-year and average handicap reached a record low, decreasing 5% to 8.8.

Average spend per golf round has increased 28% over the past five years, climbing to $47 from $34 in 2017 at an average rate of $3.25 more per round each year.

For a generation characterized as digital natives, it may come as a surprise that a substantial portion of millennials purchase golf equipment and apparel in-person, roughly two-thirds at a sporting goods store and almost half at a course pro shop.

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, golf has become more important to millennial golfers according to 60% of the sample. More than four in five (84%) say they are able to work from home; and over half (51%) say this added flexibility allows them to play more golf.

Sixty-percent (60%) of participating millennials prefer golf venues that actively exhibit social and environmental values. Nearly two-thirds (64%) say these behaviors would influence their likelihood of purchase, and approximately three-quarters (73%) of those surveyed would be willing to pay more, if excellent social and environmental practices increased the costs of golf venues.

Millennials are attracted to private clubs that offer non-golf amenities and social components. Interest is highest in amenities offering two key attributes: 1) non-traditional golf play like nighttime golf use and simulators; and 2) a multi-use club experience with casual dining, socialization and fitness.

“Not every millennial is the same, but it’s often communicated that way,” commented Matt Weinberger, Nextgengolf director of operations, PGA of America. “In our continuous work with the millennial audience and now Generation Z, we see tremendous opportunity for PGA Professionals and golf facilities to deliver value to young people while operating their businesses. The key is understanding how golf businesses mesh with millennial lifestyles.”

“What this research shows is a tremendous opportunity for golf facilities and private clubs,” commented GGA Partners’ Michael Gregory, a partner of the firm. “To succeed in attracting the next generation of members, golf facilities must build their reputations around diversity, inclusiveness, and environmental stewardship, providing an amenity and activity profile designed to create experiences which enrich the emotional connection and sense of belonging that elevates the value proposition most appealing to young golfers.”

Historically focused on golfers in the millennial generation (those born between 1981-1996, roughly ages 25-40 in 2021), the study has now begun to span two generations. Nearly one third of the sample audience now technically belongs to Generation Z (those born after 1997, roughly ages 9-24 in 2021), an emergent golfer cohort which the study will continue to evaluate in the future.

Through this study, GGA Partners and Nextgengolf have identified the evolutions happening among the golfers of the future to assist golf facility operators in finding ways to adapt and develop their offerings to meet the needs of the next wave of members and customers.

The 2021 Millennial Research Study is available to all golf facility operators. Download the report by clicking on the link below.

Download the report here

 

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.

About Nextgengolf

Nextgengolf, a subsidiary of the PGA of America, has the mission to provide golfing opportunities for golfers of all ages and make the game of golf more relevant for high school students, college students, and adults. Through the NHSGA, NCCGA and City Tour products, Nextgengolf caters to golfers over 15 years old by proactively keeping golfers engaged through events and bringing new players into the game. For more information, visit nextgengolf.org.

About the PGA of America

The PGA of America is one of the world’s largest sports organizations, composed of nearly 28,000 PGA Professionals who daily work to grow interest and inclusion in the game of golf. For more information about the PGA of America, visit PGA.com and follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

 

Media Contacts

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

Michael Abramowitz
PGA of America
561-624-8458
mabramowitz@pgahq.com

In Pursuit of Innovation

GGA Partners Releases Innovation Whitepaper as Part of Thought Leadership Series

‘In Pursuit of Innovation’ aims to provide managers with guidance to unlock creativity

TORONTO, Ontario – GGA Partners, a global consulting firm, has released In Pursuit of Innovation, the fourth in its series of thought leadership whitepapers. This authoritative guide explores how surviving in today’s competitive landscape depends on the ability of clubs and organizations to unlock their creative potential and offers up several guidelines to allow freedom of thought and imagination.

In Pursuit of Innovation highlights the way companies must continuously transform in order to survive and how a constant pursuit of innovation will guard against failure, whether gradual or sudden.  The paper clarifies exactly what constitutes innovation, where it comes from, and how club leaders can practice innovative thinking to unlock a culture of creativity.

“Our experience with thousands of private clubs over nearly three decades shows us that without innovation clubs become stale, membership falls until it eventually flatlines, competitive advantages diminish, members become dissatisfied, and talented staff look elsewhere,” explained GGA Partner Henry DeLozier, one of several authors of the piece.  “Innovation can come from anywhere inside an organization, and we think it should be encouraged from all corners, from the folks raking bunkers to the person answering phones to the accountant balancing the books.”

Innovation happens at the intersection of problems, opportunities, and fervent minds but must be deliberately sought, practiced, and encouraged at all levels. “It’s normal in any business to want to maintain the status quo. It’s comfortable, it’s safe, and it’s easier than making changes,” said DeLozier. “In reality, the status quo only works for so long. If you’re going to grow, you must innovate.”

In Pursuit of Innovation illuminates four common roadblocks to an innovative culture and identifies the steps necessary to unlock a culture of creativity.

In addition to innovation, GGA Partners has published new whitepapers on strategic planning, branding, and governance which are accessible via the firm’s website.

Click here to download the In Pursuit of Innovation whitepaper

 

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
GGA Partners
602-614-2100
bennett.delozier@ggapartners.com

Leveraging Differences in the Boardroom

GGA Partners Releases New Whitepaper on Private Club Governance as Part of Thought Leadership Series

‘Leveraging Differences in the Boardroom’ Now Available for Download

TORONTO, Ontario – International consulting firm GGA Partners has released Leveraging Differences in the Boardroom, the third in its new series of thought leadership whitepapers. This authoritative guide explores the benefits of clubs with diverse boards and suggests several steps to take when recruiting with diversity in mind.

Leveraging Differences in the Boardroom evaluates the consequences of unintentionally insular board composition and challenges the idea of “sameness” in the boardroom, which limits the ability of a board to effectively perform its duties and threatens a club’s health and longevity. The paper illustrates how multiple perspectives contribute to greater success in governance and argues for adjusting the profile of a club’s leadership to better serve members and prospects.

“We often see board members with similar professional, cultural, and ideological backgrounds and perspectives,” explained GGA Partner Henry DeLozier, one of several authors of the piece. “Boards that are neither representative of the membership nor reflective of their surrounding community risk losing the opportunity both to serve their current members and to attract new members.”

In addition, the whitepaper encourages that clubs intent on increasing diversity among their board take a holistic, multi-dimensional approach to its creation. “Forward-thinking boards understand that it is the breadth of perspective, not the mere inclusion of various diverse traits, that benefits the organization,” said DeLozier. “In addition to social diversity, professional and experiential diversity are also important in increasing the range of perspectives represented on the board.”

Board diversification is likely to be met with resistance from the status quo, which the paper aims to help club leaders overcome by providing tactics for building a diverse board, developing new board member criteria, and making a commitment to diversity.

In addition to governance, GGA Partners recently published new whitepapers on strategic planning and branding. The firm has announced that another in the series focused on innovation will be published through the third quarter of 2020.

Click here to download the whitepaper

 

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
GGA Partners
602-614-2100
bennett.delozier@ggapartners.com

Four HR Questions Club Boards Should Be Asking

When was the last time your club audited its human resources? Alignment between a club’s strategy and its employee offering is essential in order to enhance the overall club lifestyle, culture, and experience for members and staff.

To determine whether it’s time to reexamine culture, Partner Derek Johnston lays out 4 questions private club boards should be asking. 


Among the most reverberant takeaways from the coronavirus pandemic is the importance of people to businesses. Global business leaders and executives at leading corporations have indicated that the shift toward talent as the most important source of corporate value has continued. The pandemic also seems to be leading an increasing number of talent-forward companies to take an “employees first” approach.

But this is nothing new for large-scale global businesses. Indeed, the third week of August marked the one-year anniversary of the influential Business Roundtable’s statement on corporate purpose – which puts employees, customers, their communities, and the environment on a par with shareholders.

“Human resources” is trending

It’s also nothing new for club businesses. Our continuous research on club industry trends has shown human resource management and labor challenges to be a persisting trend, one which club managers have reported to be rising in importance – before the coronavirus.

In 2019, human resources was ranked the 6th most-impactful private club trend (out of 27) in a global survey of club managers. And, in a separate Canadian club industry survey, it was identified as both a key risk and primary hurdle to modernizing club management while topping the list of areas which managers say are under-supported from an education standpoint.

The early-pandemic question as to whether COVID-19 impacts would accelerate the business community’s move to stakeholder capitalism, or slow it down as companies focus on short-term financial pressures, seems to have answered itself.

For clubs, the people-related challenges previously reported by managers have exacerbated, with topics like employee willingness to work, labor anxiety, staff recruitment and turnover emerging as key strategic questions which club leaders are currently wrestling.

Widespread COVID-19 impacts like club closures, layoffs, and furloughs certainly haven’t helped ease concerns. With significant changes afoot in staffing, retention, human resource availability, and operational adaptations, clubs are presented with a unique opportunity right now – the chance to reevaluate and perhaps reset their culture.

Got culture?

In clubs, culture IS governance. Sound governance is a strategic imperative primarily because it enables, supports, and nurtures effective strategy. And, as the Peter Drucker saying goes, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

This is extremely important for club leaders.

It’s important because it means that no matter how strong a club’s strategic plan is, its efficacy will be held back by team members, staff, and employees if they don’t share the proper culture.

When the breaks are going against the business, as they are for some right now, the people implementing the club’s plan are the ones that make all the difference. While strategy defines direction and focus, culture is the habitat in which strategy lives or dies.

Now is the perfect time to reexamine your club’s culture to ensure staff square rightly with the club’s strategy. In other words, to ensure that your people are the best fit for accomplishing the club’s goals and objectives. Someone who was right for a specific role pre-pandemic may not be right for the same role now. Your business has changed, and some people may need to change too, either themselves or their roles.

How can club leaders reexamine culture?

The first place to start is by understanding what you’re currently doing for employees. Club leaders require a comprehensive understanding of the club’s current approach to human resource management so that they can determine the alignment of people and culture with the club’s goals.

When was the last time the club audited its human resources approach, policies, procedures, and performance? Ensuring alignment between the club’s strategy and its employee offering is essential in order to enhance the overall club lifestyle, culture, and experience for members and staff.

To help you get started, here are four HR questions private club boards should be asking:

1. How does our current organizational structure sit relative to best practice and what recent COVID-related changes should we make permanent or revisit?

Review your club’s current organizational structure, including both employees and contract workers, against best practice structures at comparable clubs locally, nationally, and globally. This review should focus special attention on the roles and responsibilities of human resources within the organizational structure with the goal of highlighting key gaps or divergences from best practice. Often times in clubs, an overly flat organizational structure tends to create ‘siloes’ that breed inefficiencies and bloat staffing levels.

2. Are we both efficient and competitive in the compensation and benefits afforded to employees?

Complete a comprehensive benchmarking exercise which compares compensation and benefit levels of all key staff and for the club as a whole to comparable clubs and other businesses with whom you compete for talent. The focus of this exercise should go beyond salary and hourly wages, factoring in relevant club financial and operating data, benefits packages, member and employee feedback scores, and other market-related information.

The goal is to identify current and accurate reference points for evaluating current compensation and benefits against best practice. There is a high degree of likelihood that there are opportunities in your current compensation and benefits structure to better align incentives and shift compensation to top talent, which tends to support increased productivity and reduced head count.

3. Are our personnel positioned to help us achieve the club’s goals and objectives? Are we helping them achieve theirs?

Assess your club’s performance tracking and review processes. The goal here is to analyze current performance evaluation processes and procedures to ensure alignment with the club’s overarching goals. This requires the board and executive committee to have a focused, clear, and comprehensive understanding of the club’s mission, vision, core values, and objectives.

For maximum benefit, to both member and employee satisfaction, it is incredibly important that performance is measurable and incentivized. The trick is determining the right way to track and measure performance and tie it to the right incentive.

4. Are our staff equipped with the tools they need to succeed? Are they empowered to do so?

Evaluate your club’s current recruiting, onboarding, training, and ongoing relational efforts. This will likely require management meetings and staff interviews to learn about the current approach and unearth any ideas or recommendations your team may have to suggest.


The success of every private club is dependent on the quality of their staff. Recruiting the best talent, integrating them into the envisioned culture, training them for success, ensuring their satisfaction, and ultimately retaining them is an important goal. The outcome from which tends to have a positive financial impact on the club and on the member experience.

After all, an investment in people is an investment in culture and clubs will benefit from this investment.

Members Worried About Their Club’s Financial Health; Say Their Return Contingent on Safe Conditions

Members Worried About Their Club’s Financial Health;
Say Their Return Contingent on Safe Conditions

TORONTO (August 11, 2020) – Private club members are worried about their club’s financial well-being in the aftermath of the global pandemic, and only 27% expect operations to revert to the way they were before the challenges imposed by the coronavirus.  But most say they will retain their membership if their club holds the line on dues increases, maintains the quality of its facilities, and makes returning to the club safe for themselves and their families.

Those were among the findings of a survey of private golf club members conducted by GGA Partners, an international consulting firm and advisor to many of the world’s most successful golf courses, private clubs, resorts and residential communities.  The study was conducted among members of U.S. and Canadian private clubs with survey participants averaging 12 years of club membership.

Survey respondents were not optimistic about their club’s financial position with 71% saying they expect a decline in the financial health of their club. Fifty percent cited current economic conditions and 42% said a drop in member spending would lead to the decline, which 20% predicted would be “significant.”

In response to downward financial pressures, members expect their clubs to adapt operationally rather than financially by scaling back high-touch areas of operations to simultaneously reduce operating costs and lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Rather than increasing revenue through dues or membership growth, almost three-quarters of members would prefer their club make near-term, operational changes – including reducing dining operations (61%) and administrative expenses.

Despite the multiple ways their lives have been affected by the pandemic, roughly four in five members report either an increase in importance or no change in the club’s importance in their lives. Friendships, the quality of amenities and recreational activities were cited as factors driving the club’s importance. Twenty-one percent say the club’s importance has diminished because of the pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has not negatively impacted the relevance of the club in the lives of most private club members.  If anything, its importance has been reinforced,” said Henry DeLozier, a partner in the Toronto-based firm.  “Together these results suggest that the importance and relevance of their club experience are strengthened during emotionally challenging times.”

When asked how they would (or have) approached returning to their club in the wake of the coronavirus, 39% said they would (or have) returned without any restrictions imposed by the club.  However, 61% said their return was contingent on certain conditions: 50% said they would return if social distancing was maintained and government guidelines enforced; 11% were more hesitant, saying they would not return until the club had been operational “without issues” for a trial period or until rigorous virus testing capabilities were implemented or a vaccine were available.

Members said they also would consider leaving their clubs if dues increases exceeded typical annual hikes (50%) and the club’s facilities deteriorated (41%).

“The good news for club operators is that scaling back operations, reducing services and limiting access to amenities and activities – essential maneuvers to safely and responsibly navigate a virus-plagued social environment – are unlikely to cause significant membership attrition,” DeLozier said.

 

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.

 

Contact

Henry DeLozier
Partner, GGA Partners
602-739-0488
henry.delozier@ggapartners.com

Rob Hill
Partner, GGA Partners
+353 86 68 12 744
rob.hill@ggapartners.com

Winter is Coming…

Amidst the euphoria of clubs reopening, EMEA Partner Rob Hill encourages club leaders to look beyond 2020 and plan now to do all they can to maintain those gains, because starting this winter, 2021 is going to bring a whole new challenge.

Numerous UK golfing bodies, clubs and media are understandably enjoying the moment – citing a considerable spike in membership interest and lauding the industry’s resurrection as reason for celebration.

Amidst the euphoria, club leaders would do well to look beyond 2020 and plan now to do all they can to maintain those gains, because starting this winter, 2021 is going to bring a whole new challenge.

The Bank of England has warned that the UK faces its deepest recession since 1709 and the OECD forecasts that the UK will suffer the worst recession in the developed world.

Thus far, the true state of the UK labour market has been disguised by wage subsidies covering 9.1m jobs – a scheme coming to an end in October this year.

GGA Partners Research (A Member’s Perspective, 2020) signals that 43% of private club members expect their disposable income will decline over the next 12 months, while 58% believe their overall consumer spending will also decline.

This new economic environment will first focus its wrath on the 8% of clubs in the UK and Ireland that classify their current cash position as ‘Critical’. It will swiftly sweep through the further 29% that classify theirs as ‘Concerning’.

As far as the COVID effect on member attitudes to returning to use their club, 11% of members signal that they are hesitant, would not return until the Club had been operational ‘without issues’ for a trial period, until rigorous virus testing capabilities or even a vaccine is available. This is particularly applicable to the 70’s+ age group (A Member’s Perspective, 2020), leading to a likely detrimental impact on this demographic’s perceived value for money and relevance.

A study carried out by the English Golf Union as it then was in 2008, identified in the first year of that recession, almost 1/2 of all clubs experienced a decline in membership numbers with “the most significant decrease in the 22-44 age group” – a reflection of the age group that gets hit hardest in an employment downtown. It’s reasonable to assume this trend will be repeated.

By all means enjoy re-opening, celebrate the new demand and interest in the game and membership, and the first profitable quarter for f&b departments in recent memory! But remember what you’re experiencing now isn’t the new normal. That’s coming this winter and it is the responsibility of club leaders to prepare their organisations for the next cycle NOW.

This means addressing any governance weaknesses that may hinder nimble and difficult decision-making. Following proven guiding principles to protect the club’s overall financial health. Protecting the condition of club assets and exploring opportunities for investing in enhancements which will broaden relevance and appeal. Investing in people and their education to deliver efficient and outstanding member and visitor experiences. Investing in a membership retention plan with an emphasis on value, NPS, socialisation, and safety, and investing in an appropriate brand management strategy so that values are communicated effectively to both internal and external audiences.

If you have an interest in reading insights from my colleagues and research from our extraordinary team at GGA Partners, I encourage you to go to ggapartners.com/insights where you can also sign up to receive releases of interest.

Speaking the New Language of Brands

GGA Partners Releases New Whitepaper on Private Club Branding as Part of Thought Leadership Series

‘Speaking the New Language of Brands’ Now Available for Download

TORONTO, Ontario – International consulting firm GGA Partners has released Speaking the New Language of Brands, the second in its new series of thought leadership whitepapers.  This authoritative guide redefines a traditional brand value equation and illustrates how adding emotion and experience to a private club’s brand story will increase its value with members.

Speaking the New Language of Brands highlights ways iconic “mega-brands” mold, define, and advance their organizational identity toward the goal of influencing consumer purchasing decisions.  The paper evaluates a traditional outlook on the brand value equation and asserts a redefinition which paves the way to enhanced value perceptions among private club members.

“Traditionally, the key to building value in the eyes of the consumer has been demonstrated in a simple equation, where perceived value is equal to performance divided by price,” explained Henry DeLozier, one of several authors of the piece. “We believe there is a far more effective – and cost efficient – way to increase the value members place in your club and in your brand. It’s by introducing emotion and experience into the equation.”

In addition, the whitepaper argues that a successful branding program is based on the idea of “singularity” and should be designed with differentiation as the primary goal.  “Harkening to the days of the Old West, a branding program should differentiate your cow from all of the other cattle on the range,” said DeLozier.  In other words, creating in the mind of a member or prospective member the belief that there is no other club on the market quite like your club.

Building a brand is easier said than done.  For club managers not familiar with the brand development process, the whitepaper explains six essential steps for clubs to follow when constructing their brand and draws on examples from inside and outside the private club business.

In addition to branding, GGA Partners recently published a new strategic planning whitepaper and has confirmed that others in the series focused on governance and innovation will be published through the third quarter of 2020.

Click here to download the whitepaper

 

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
GGA Partners
602-614-2100
bennett.delozier@ggapartners.com

A Member’s Perspective: The Shifting Private Club Landscape

New GGA Partners Research Report Highlights Private Club Members’ Perspective on COVID-19 Impact

More than 6,300 private club members share their attitudes toward the club industry in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and how they expect clubs to respond. Now available for download.

TORONTO, Ontario – GGA Partners – international consulting firm and trusted advisor to many of the world’s most successful golf courses, private clubs, resorts, and residential communities – has released the results of a global research survey of more than 6,300 private club members across six countries on four continents.

The research, which incorporates clubs in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and China, measures the attitudes and preferences of private club members on club operations and finance in the wake of the COVID-19 global health crisis.

“The coronavirus pandemic has shifted the private club landscape in many ways and these research findings offer insight into the near-future ripple effects with which club leaders must reckon,” explained Derek Johnston, a Partner in the firm. “As an industry advisor for trends shaping private club strategy, our team at GGA Partners is doing all that we can to help club leaders navigate the crisis and strengthen their understanding of how to react and adapt in order to meet the morphing needs and expectations of members.”

Overall results are encouraging; members feel highly positive about the crisis-management performance of their clubs and indicate that the importance of “the Club” in their lives has not been negatively impacted by the pandemic, but rather reinforced.

“In terms of correlation, the more effectively clubs have performed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the more important they became in the lives of members,” stated Ben Hopkinson, Director Client Success and Sales at GGA Partners.  “Together, these results suggest that, for members, the importance and relevance of their club experience is strengthened during emotionally challenging times.”

However, despite the enduring importance of the club in their lives, members’ high-level economic outlook over the next 12 months is more somber: 43% expect their disposable income to decrease and 58% believe their overall consumer spending will as well.  Perhaps most disheartening is members’ outlook on how their club’s financial position will change: 71% envisage a decline, with 20% characterizing the anticipated decline as ‘significant’.

In response to anticipated downward financial pressures, members expect their clubs to adapt operationally by scaling back certain high-touch areas of operations to simultaneously reduce club operating costs and the risk of COVID-19 transmission.  The extent of operational changes is predicted to be moderate in nature – only 12% of participants envision changes characterized as ‘significant’ or ‘drastic’.

The majority of private club members indicate their understanding of the need for operational adaptions to reduce costs, showing stronger support for changes which reduce service offerings and availability than those which increase their cost to belong.

The good news for club operators is the implication that operational scale-backs, service reductions, and restricted/limited access to amenities and activities – essential maneuvers to safely and responsibly navigate a virus-ridden social environment – are unlikely to cause significant membership attrition.  The tough news is that increasing dues beyond the norm – or allowing the value and quality of club amenities to diminish – just might push members away in the short-term.

According to Patrick DeLozier, Director at GGA Partners, constant evolutions in the COVID-19 pandemic place enhanced pressure on the planning capabilities of club leaders.  “It’s really a day-to-day for managers,” he said. “The stop-and-start reality of new case development and safety protocols requires club managers to have up-to-date information and the support of very sound research and data to work through challenges with the club’s board of directors.”

This means that club leaders need to have a plan for what they’re going to do next as the situation evolves quickly and unexpectedly. “The need for data-driven analysis, diligent financial monitoring, and a prepared communications strategy is more prevalent than ever,” DeLozier clarified.  “To sustain forward-thinking, club leaders need to have a ‘Plan C’ for the ‘Plan A’.  Pandemic-related changes are so rapid that, if you can’t adapt quickly, you’re well behind the eight ball.”

These results and more are detailed in a report titled A Member’s Perspective: The Shifting Private Club Landscape, now available for download.

Click here to download the report and see the findings

 

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.

 

Contact

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

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