New Member Orientation Is Not Enough


New member orientation has become an essential part of the membership marketing process. New member parties, how-to presentations, and introductions to department heads are necessary, but they’re often mundane and certainly expected by the new member.

As consumers, we expect some form of orientation with everything we purchase. Access to how-to videos, a walk-through when setting up our new electronic devices, even a quick orientation when we purchase a new car. However, the private club industry is NOT retail. Take advantage of this opportunity to not only show the new member how to be a member but establish a deep connection with the club through a strategic onboarding process.

Orientation is “thank you for your purchase”. Onboarding is “welcome to our family”.

You need both, but the latter is more powerful. As you review and revamp for 2018, consider optimizing these touchpoints to improve immediate connection, engagement, and advocacy from the start.

Communicate what’s relevant to the new member.

I’ve seen some clubs automate their communications and send the same message to all members no matter what , including golf related emails to non-golfers. Create multiple onboarding campaigns designed around the persona of the new member, and only send relevant information to each group.

Use the right channel of communication at the right time.

Like all of us, new members want to be communicated with at the time and through the channel that’s most convenient for them. Sometimes, we just want that human-to-human contact.

Determine what channel and time best fit each member. This information can easily be ascertained from the application or during the orientation. Stick with this preference until the member tells you otherwise.


We’ve all heard of the 30/60/90-day rule of follow-up for new members. Well, don’t adhere exactly to this intonation. Base your next communication on the patterns of the new member. If you see a reluctance to use certain areas of the club,

Most importantly, continue this process throughout an entire season. Send messages based on the peak times for each event at the Club.

Have something relevant and meaningful to say or give. 

If you do your research prior to reaching out to the new member, you’ll easily understand what areas are enjoyed and where the most time is spent at the Club. You may also realize hesitancy to engage with certain amenities.

Personalize your message to invite these new members to areas they use the least. Have department heads send a personalized invitation with a compelling offer to get the member to the Club during peak times. Send a link to the reservations page, or have them respond directly to the email to entice commitment.

Set yourself apart from the competition.

Majority of clubs perform a new member orientation, but very few embrace that moment when the member’s desire to belong is at its highest. Set yourself apart by developing an emotional connection with your new members.

You don’t accomplish differentiation through pricing. It obtained through adding value – and a successful onboarding process provides that value.

Tie into elements of the new member orientation.

Seldom, will new members will walk away from the face-to-face new member orientation recalling everything you’ve explained, especially if it’s followed by a party or drinks during dinner. Reminders of the hot topics from your orientation develop a quicker connection to the various amenities at the Club.

Create a resource for the most common processes. Embed how-to videos on the member side of the website addressing areas of difficulty for new members. Include links to these videos or instructions when you perform your onboarding procedure via email.

Remember orientation is an event, onboarding is a process.

By following these steps for an onboarding process, we have not only seen an improvement in engagement and satisfaction from new members, but also an increase in advocacy. This has led to quicker and more effective member referral campaigns. Therefore, the need for discounts is diminished.

Bottom line, orientations have become so routine in society they have little effect on building the engagement with new members. Personalize everything. Clubs have long relied on templates and in doing so they’ve hurt the significance of a private club membership. It’s time to change the way “we’ve always done it”.