Throughout this health pandemic, our social existence as we know it, has been taken from us. Our sense of community, friendships, social interactions and safety have been under attack.
Clubs that will lead the renewal and rebirth of the private club industry will be those whose leaders and managers have a strategic outlook for the future, believe in why they exist and demonstrate their social relevance to their members, prospects and their community.
Life altering events such as 9/11, the financial crisis of 2008 and now a world-wide health pandemic have disrupted the lifestyles, behaviors and psychology of entire nations. Before long, the nation’s businesses will begin opening back up and the need for safety, security and meaningful social interaction will be high on our list of needs and desires.
SAFE AND SECURE
For growth to occur the club and private club industry must make their members (and prospective members) feel as safe and secure as possible.
It is safe to say from this point forward, we will never take for granted the simple things in life that give us comfort and happiness, like gathering with friends and family for dinner, drinks, a game of golf or tennis or relaxing poolside during the summer months. Members will be hungry for social interaction. With proper health and security measures, they may even want to reengage friends to share their club experience.
If history tells us anything from previous life altering events, people will remain scared, weary and anxious. Very likely air travel and vacations will be replaced with vacationing at or near home. The term “stay-cation” was popular after 9/11, and now, members will want something similar to this in a post pandemic world. Clubs can offer a safe and secure haven, a private retreat/ resort, close to home. However, be assured of one thing, successful people will look for ways to be happy and to associate with like-minded individuals. There will be few places for them choose to “make their lives better” than at a private club. Safe, secure, social and directly connected to potential business contacts…a great selling combination.
While the game of golf can actually be promoted as a safe outdoor activity in a post-pandemic world, it will be important for clubs to embrace and emphasize the overall lifestyle that can be enjoyed by an entire family. The more clubs can connect and engage members, the more involved they will become in sharing their club experience with other families who share similar values and goals as they do. Referrals, as always, will be a strong potential source of new member growth.
While member referrals have always been important, too many clubs “accept” that their members are apathetic or believe “it’s not their job” to help grow the membership. That’s simply wrong! If educated and inspired, it is our experience that they will get involved. Word of mouth marketing is a critical component to the club’s continued existence!
Happy members and those who feel they have a stake in the club’s future, will undoubtedly be more apt to share their club experiences with those who share similar values and goals. This will be the time to educate the members of private clubs of how important it is for their club to flourish and to provide that safe and happy space that they so desperately dreamed about while they under their “Stay At Home Order.”
It will also be important for clubs to showcase their clubs with Open House events. These events can be targeted to guests of members and affluent consumers in and around the local com- munity. Engage the community and bring aware- ness to the club with fun, relevant and energizing events. Showcase to the community the many benefits of the lifestyle that defines your private club. Find ways in which to engage your general community as well.
Social/digital media can be used to help create positive societal awareness in the local community in the near term, which will lead to a more long-term benefit as we come out of this crisis. There’s an interesting quote that says, “You are judged by how you act when no one is watching.” Well, guess what, EVERYONE is now watching.
Clubs that have been doing their part in the community by donating to local food banks and delivering much needed supplies to the local medical community will have the added value of positive brand imaging. It is important that clubs do the right thing, while everyone is watching.
More than ever, clubs need a strategic plan for when the doors are allowed to open. Club leaders must invest the time to understand what is at stake. Happiness is contagious. The specific marketing strategy itself matters less than the mindset of those who are leading, influencing and creating the overall club culture. Happiness is a virus we can all look forward to catching!
Article written in collaboration with Steve Graves, President of Creative Golf Marketing, and Rick Coyne of ClubInsights.