Looking at club trending today is a bit trickier than you think. Why, because today’s clubs are in various levels of pain or gain. Some clubs have zero initiation fees or discounting marketing plans, and scrambling season to season looking for the “deal of the day”. While other clubs never felt a tremor from the the financial meltdown of 2008. Industry trends look different from one club or one location to the next. However, there is commonality in how the consumer market has changed and the clubs that have recognized and taken advantage of these trends have also reduced their level of membership pain.
The most successful clubs are those that have looked at their core offerings and the market for sustainable membership growth rather than taking Maalox and discounting prices to temporarily mask the symptoms. These are clubs that have recognized that serving members is retention, and that creating relevant new programs and activities is adding significance to their brand and attractiveness to their community of potential members.
Countless clubs have programmed their way into bocce or pickle ball leagues with more weekly participation than golf rounds. Others, like the Union League Clubs have created “clubs within the club”, often orchestrated and managed by the members, to generate greater relevance and value to membership.
Consumers are no longer demanding courses designed by renown architects or rankings in the top 100. They seek programming with personal interaction for the entire family. Top Golf, for example, epitomizes today’s need for greater lifestyle and social relevance. This nationwide company is appealing to low and high handicappers and non-golfers as they enjoy the social camaraderie versus the quality of the course.
Clubs that are rounding the corner in terms of eliminating membership pain have recognized that today’s members want social. They want fun. They know women are making the majority of discretionary decisions and that time is the new commodity. Here’s the bottom line: if it’s not fun, pricing won’t matter; they simply won’t join. Focus your efforts on being relevant, not promoting the “deal of the day”.