By Henry DeLozier*
The Future of Private Clubs
Private clubs are neither dead nor dying…despite some claims to the contrary. But private clubs are changing significantly and the changes that are being implemented will carry forward for many years. The result of the change in private clubs represents a new paradigm for club
The change in the basic nature of private clubs has been underway for some years. There are three elements that have dramatically changed the private club lifestyle and value proposition.
Women make the ‘buy’ decision
Historically private clubs have been institutions that served male viewpoints, wants and needs. The new programs
and services are changing membership structures, methods of club governance and the feasibility of many clubs.
In her book, “Marketing to Women” Martha Barletta indicates that 91% of home purchase decisions are made by a woman. Typically, the club membership decision is a part of the home-choice decision due to location, psychographic and demographic profile. As such, clubs must reset membership programs to address the primary push/pull factors that
influence the buy decision. Women prize their clubs as a platform for socialization.
Clubs must demonstrate in clear and appealing ways that the lifestyle of the club is diverse, active and accessible for
busy women and their families. Sales and marketing tactics in forwardthinking clubs must address schedule flexibility, interesting and current programs and the opportunities for meeting and keeping friends.
Fitness, sports and social memberships reach more people than golf
According to the most current research from AARP, 86% of people exercise to some extent – walking, biking and dancing,
for example. In fact, sports and fitness activities are engaging more than six in ten people across North America. This
demographic growth has occurred while golf has remained steady with roughly eleven percent of the population.
For clubs that have begun the expansion and enhancement of sports and fitness programs, the most popular activities
have proven to be (a) classes that combine fitness programming and socialization, (b) health programs that can be tailored to benefit each member, and (c) combinations of activities that are developed by the members of the club. Some of the combinations that are popular are cooking/wine selection dinner parties that enable small groups of members to receive guidance from the chef and the club manager in the arts of hosting; continuing education programs that enable small groups of members to gather for new learning opportunities in such disciplines as world geography, history and investing.
Socio-economic changes are ‘re-sorting’ members.
The current economic decline has combined with the aging of many clubs to cause many members to downgrade membership categories. Social and Clubhouse membership categories are growing because they represent an affordable safe-haven for many club members who have felt the sting of the recession. Many older members, who play less golf these days, have converted ‘Full Golf’ memberships to Dining or Social membership categories. Global Golf Advisors observes that the
census of club members in North America has declined some 12% since 2008 and that an additional 20% of club members
have downgraded membership categories and privileges for the sake of reducing the costs of club membership.
Within these changing circumstances lie new opportunities for club leaders
. In fact, many clubs are regenerating – growing
younger – and becoming more relevant to the members of the club. The factors that cause people to wish to belong to a
club remain strong, as evidenced by the enormous growth in social media such as Facebook. People wish to ‘belong’to chosen groups or groupings; but the nature and methods of ‘belonging’ are changing and will continue to evolve.
In her 1997 book entitled “Clicking”,
futurist trend-watcher Faith Popcorn
predicted that people will seek to gather
in familiar groups – she calls that behavior “clanning” – and that people will seek safe havens where they can socialize
with family and friends – Faith called that desire “cocooning”.
Forward-thinking clubs are responding to these market trends with programs and services that address the new paradigm.
Private clubs that will prosper during the current decade will share certain common traits:
– Club members support people and programs that add value and purpose to their lives. The most robust clubs demonstrate programs and services that matter most to members.
2. Operational Efficiency
– The recent economic downturn has caused most club members to look to their clubs to hold down fees and dues. Club leaders are under constant pressure to hold the line on increases. This new energy for operational efficiency has caused most clubs to reshape the organization of management by causing all managers to be ‘working managers’. Club leaders are very cautious of indirect overhead.
– Clubs must find new and appealing programs that increase revenues for the club. Revenue growth is required in almost all clubs because cost-cutting has been exhausted at most clubs. In many clubs, the duty management team has been to re-set the scope of activities of the club in the interest of reducing costs.
In a time of great change, club leaders can find great opportunity. Determine what opportunities are available at your
club for improved results in 2011.
The Future of Private Clubs/DeLozier/first appeared in Global Golf Advisors 'Fore' - Global Golf
- 2011 Business Perspective
Originally posted by HenryDeLozier
on 16 Feb 2011.
All contributors: HenryDeLozier
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