GGA Partners 2022 Outlook

As we near the two-year mark of the pandemic, global economies have rebounded from the volatility of mid-2020 and 2021. Yet, private clubs, resorts, golf courses and residential communities have entered a “new normal”—one that’s difficult to predict.

To help clubs anticipate and respond to these changes, we break down five key trends that emerged from 2021 and explore their potential impact on the private club segment in 2022:


    • Governance – Club members are demanding more from the Boards of clubs they join. Club leaders must manage members’ expectations, evolve governance standards and drive towards increased institutional transparency.
    • Amenities and Services – The pandemic resulted in a paradigm shift in how members view and experience amenities and services at their clubs. As lifestyles and working environments transformed over the past two years, so to have preferences for the amenities and services member desire. 
    • Talent – Business leaders recognize talent as one of the most important sources of value. Human resource challenges and talent shortages continue to challenge hiring efforts. What new approaches should club leaders consider to attract and retain talent?
    • Membership Dues – Increasingly, clubs must create sustained outcomes for membership dues and joining fee structures in response to external factors. How can clubs navigate shifts in utilization rates, rising inflation and find balance in pricing? 
    • Business Strategy – Clubs will need to take a 360-degree view of existing operational frameworks, conducting scenario analyses, combing through operational and financial data, identifying the potential risks, and evaluating their impact on the organization. Clubs looking to enhance their organizational agility in 2022 and beyond may want to start by revisiting five key areas: operations, membership, utilization, capital and communications and branding.

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Putting your data to work: 3 strategies to optimize your private club data

In the ever-changing private club industry, organizations must continually ask themselves, “Are we managing operations to the best of our ability?” Peter Drucker, widely recognized as the founder of modern management said, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Drucker’s words hold true today as the field of data science evolves at an increasingly fast pace. While the club industry has generally adopted data-driven approaches, our experience at GGA Partners highlights three common metrics that, when utilized effectively, are powerful contributors to success:

Revisiting member resignations

Clubs should aim to take an integrated view of their membership and while many have made great efforts to better track active membership profiles, there are significant opportunities in evaluating thorough data on resigned members. Clubs interested in reducing membership attrition are well-served to obtain a clear picture of resigned members. Collecting information on resigned members actually begins with appropriately tracking the members’ joining date and demographic information. With this, clubs are not only able to analyze what the typical lifecycle of membership is, but also how this lifecycle may differ across a variety of demographics. With this method, a club will obtain more insightful findings than a general resignation metric. For example, a club could determine when female members resign and whether this differs to male members, the conversion rates of intermediate category members to full, or whether members within certain geographic areas showcase distinct resignation patterns. Utilizing this lifecycle analysis, clubs can subsequently evaluate current active memberships and analyze who may be nearing the historical “end of membership” timeline. Digging deeper, if a club tracks the historical spend and usage habits of members leading up to their resignation, there comes an opportunity to utilize analytics to observe active members who display similar spend and usage patterns exhibited by resigned members (i.e., reductions in spend and usage).

Diving into usage details

Another area of opportunity is increased tracking of detailed amenity utilization statistics, such as rounds played, fitness check-ins, tennis court bookings, and food and beverage covers. As an effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, many clubs adapted their booking technology to meet both safety regulations (where necessary) and membership demand.

Numerous clubs currently track this information on an aggregate basis (which is a great start) but incredible value comes from tracking the data on a per-member and time-associated basis. For example, for a private golf club, knowing how many rounds of golf your club saw in a year is valuable, but being able to assess which groups of membership played more than others during certain time frames offers a much more focused and actionable scope (particularly if utilization concerns continue to impact membership dissatisfaction across private clubs globally). The same impact could be had for a private multi-sport facility with tennis or fitness bookings. To generate this level of insight, clubs must track any sort of booking to the given member and attach a time with said booking. For example, if a specific member is playing a tennis match at 9:30am on a Saturday, this would be tracked within the club’s internal systems. At the end of the month, the club could export all match data and run various analyses, such as which members played the most, what are the busiest days and times, were there days of the week that would benefit from having additional programming to reduce higher-capacity times, and so on.

Managing membership movements

At a basic level, clubs should be confident in their knowledge of year-end membership category counts. With this information, assessments can be made on how certain categories have changed within a year, and then further investigated. Delving beyond the basics are those who have accurately tracked new sales, resignations and transfers within each category. Clubs should consider collecting and reporting data according to membership categories. Looking at the table below, including the previous year-end count to act as the baseline moving forward and the most recent year-end count provides context on increases and decreases. New sales, resignations, and transfers in and out for each membership category are also included, and updated throughout the year for easy input.

This comprehensive analysis allows clubs a detailed look at how membership is truly moving throughout any given year. For example, a category may appear steady from a year-over-year perspective, but upon further analysis, the reality showcases an incredible amount of pressure on new membership sales due to increased member transfers or resignations. With this level of insight, the club can then investigate why there are so many members moving out of this category and take actionable steps to stabilize its membership.

Improving and sustaining business performance is always top of mind for club leaders. A deeper approach to data and analytics plays a critical role in maximizing performance across club operations. Increased awareness into trends emerging from resigned members, the usage patterns of specific membership groups, and how members are migrating will lead to better understanding of the membership, and more effective actions taken by the club.

How our research & analytics professionals can help

Research and analytics are fundamental to GGA Partners’ proven approach to analyzing club performance and to continually improving the tools and solutions we offer our clients. With a team of professionals that carry over 28 years of experience in the golf, private club, and leisure industries, we can show your club how to leverage data and analytics to drive success.

Contact a GGA Partners professional today for more information.