The X-Factor - Achieving Membership Retention and Relations Success in the Experience Economy

CGM in PCMA's Club Membership & Marketing Magazine - November 2019



The member experience is top of mind for many clubs and has been from the start. Step outside of the private club industry and you’ll see that attention to member and customer experiences are reaching a coming of age - The Experience Age.


The Experience Age

The new Experience Age is an evolution of the Information Age, which includes enhanced technology, an abundance of choices, and dispersed communities. The Information Age was meant to be an era of opportunity and access - and it has been. But it’s also left many people feeling disconnected and disenchanted. The Experience Age is righting the wrongs of its predecessor.


This Experience Age will be especially pivotal as clubs begin to evaluate and evolve their membership retention and relationship practices. “To a certain degree, clubs have to accept lifestyle changes, relocation or medical and financial hardships; what we can control is dissatisfaction changes. We need to catch opportunities earlier and better than any prior system or procedure we’ve used,” detailed Greg Gilg, General Manager at Field Club of Omaha. “We need to proactively address member accounts and issues, instead of waiting for the member to initiate their complaint (or even resignation) and having to react on their terms."


And while most clubs agree member experience is important, many struggle with how to associate metrics with an experience. How do you measure and monetize the member experience? In a recent PCMA presentation, AJ Redetzke, Vice President of Creative Golf Marketing, challenged clubs to overcome the attrition justification of “We just don’t use the club enough”. He explained that membership retention starts once the initiation fee is paid and encouraged clubs to evaluate member engagement across several criteria, both implicit and explicit.


Leveraging the X-Data

Over the last decade, clubs have been inundated with data to help them optimize club operations. However, this valuable O-data (operational data) can be difficult to align into a narrative that informs the board and club decision-making. The Experience Economy is forcing clubs to look beyond the O-data and also evaluate the X-data (experience data). This X-data is truly the X-Factor, providing the insight behind ‘why’ things happen. So how do you begin to collect, measure, and analyze these Xs and Os?


Consider introducing the following 7 practices to your club.

  1. Predict membership attrition by examining money spent at the club, years of membership, number of late payments, and the number of reservations made via Activity Level Indicator reports.

  2. Identify seasonal trends around days and hours with a Sales Summary Report.

  3. Understand movement and activity throughout the club with beacon data in your CRM dashboard.

  4. Capture member feedback with targeted surveys and collected data on experiences like service satisfaction, food quality, and timeliness.

  5. Evaluate member trends through average member age, the number of members that make reservations, members who live close to the club, and the number of members who have joined in the current year.

  6. Review guest activity with Guest Visits reporting.

  7. Evaluate golf round and cart activity billed throughout the POS system with Golf Play Detail and all sales transactions of items flagged in the system as "golf round”.


Own Your Data

To successfully improve member retention and relations in The Experience Age, clubs must own their data. GMs need to be prepared to answer the needs of the board, specifically where people are spending money and the engagement of their members. The Experience Data identified above allows clubs to answer those questions, and go a step further by providing the ‘why’ behind the behavior. Just as important, this allows clubs to optimize experiences for all members. Says Gilg, “All Clubs are good at delivering high-quality experiences to those who are high-users; we want to ensure a better member experience for all members, especially those where the experience may not have been as perfect as we desire."


Equipped with new insight, clubs can begin to introduce practices that engage all members. Redetzke and the team at Creative Golf Marketing suggest several including ‘we miss you’ outreach and gifting, club visit incentives, and targeted geo-outreach.


By capturing and activating the X-Factor, clubs can raise the bar for defining an exceptional experience, which will result in improved member relationship and retention rates. And this is a natural progression for the club industry that has served as royalty regarding the member experience.


If you would like additional information regarding your own member's engagement and how to predict membership attrition, or if you would like more information on The Experience Age, please Click here or call (800) 526-8794.