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« Back Post Date: Wednesday, May 09, 2007
New Era in Club Technology
The "tipping point" for modern web technology has finally reached the club market.



New Era In Club Technology

You’ve probably read about “Tipping Points”.  A Tipping Point is reached when the factors favoring the use of some new technology reach a critical level, triggering a wholesale market-wide conversion to the new approach.  We believe the tipping point for the use of modern website technology has finally been reached in the club market, and offer as proof this list of 66 clubs that have launched new Clubessential websites in just the first four months of 2007.  Our “in process” orders show that this rate will accelerate over the ensuing four months.

The club industry has been one of the slowest to reach this tipping point (roughly four years behind most markets) for several reasons:

  • Building the infrastructure required to support hundreds of modern websites (several racks of servers, millions of lines of code, an extensive artistic design team, a support team with a dozen trained experts) is expensive and time consuming.  Four years ago the “old guard” accounting vendors chose not to make this investment, and the new entrepreneurial companies had not amassed a large enough customer base to support the effort.  So the progress was slow.
  • Once the new technology began to appear in 2005, the older vendors who had not made the investment tried to preserve their market share by selling their older technology at cheaper and cheaper prices, even giving it away in conjunction with accounting software sales.  This hurt the entire club industry because the artificially low prices on website technology starved innovation for no reason other than to maintain monopoly market positions. 
  • Some of the entrepreneurial companies, faced with too small a client base to build the new infrastructure, changed their business plans.  Some went to other markets or shifted to other kinds of products.  Some reconfigured as marketing boutiques selling primarily consulting services instead of technology.  Others just faded away.
  • Clubessential struggled for many years, finally finishing the infrastructure that serves as the foundation of its new systems in late 2005.  The impact of this new technology on Clubessential’s efficiency was extraordinary,  driving an eight-fold increase in our ability to release new enhancements and products. Clubessential now routinely releases at least one enhancement each day and several major enhancements each month.

The new technology allowed Clubessential to grow faster than other vendors, and by 2007 it hosted over 750 clubs, all benefiting from the economies of scale of this rapidly emerging Clubessential Network.  These are some of the advantages of participating in the Clubessential Network:

  • New systems cost less.  For example, Clubessential just released the new NetCaddy tee time reservations system with tight integration, and more features but at less cost than comparable systems.
  • The 750-to-one advantage recently allowed Clubessential to replace all of its servers with new systems, including full redundancy, a five-fold increase in power and several terabytes of storage to store all those pictures our clients are saving.  We also installed special hardware so we could provide the award winning Barracuda SPAM filtering system for our email customers.
  • By inter-linking its 750 clients, Clubessential has greatly improved search engine placement for each client.
  • The size of the Network now allows Clubessential to conduct national level seminars for clients – two such sessions in Florida alone pulled in over 50 participants each. 
  • Most of the ideas that are added to Clubessential’s products are suggested by our clients who act as a kind of research and development lab 750 strong, and since all 750 clients share the same set of code, they all receive the benefits of enhancements simultaneously.  The result has been an astounding increase in the beauty, variety and richness of the websites available to the club industry (just take a look at some of the examples in the list).  Websites built with this new technology are not like the old style websites that may look good when launched, but quickly grow stale and dated – these websites are “in motion” as the Clubessential Network of 750 receives dozens of enhancements each month.

Upper Montclair CC

2007 US Mid-Amateur Championship

Country Club of Detroit

New York Country Club

Hermitage Country Club

Kelly Greens Golf and Country Club

Pinehurst Country Club

Wedgewood Pines Country Club

Serendipity Racquet Club

Bow Valley Country Club

Cherokee Town and Country Club

Deal Golf and Country Club

Red Tail Golf Club

Hamilton Farm Golf Club

Longmeadow Country Club

Pine Tree Country Club

University Club of Michigan State University

La Quinta Resort – Citrus Club

Santa Lucia River Club at Ballantrae

New York Athletic Club

Hyde Park Golf and Country Club

Valley Country Club

The Ace Club

Hallbrook Country Club

Marietta Country Club

Wildcat Cliffs Country Club

The Spirit – International Amateur Golf Championship

Kenwood Country Club

Redlands Country Club

Rattlesnake Island Club

Hendersonville Country Club

Country Club of Jackson

Innis Arden Golf Club

Highlands Falls Country Club

CMAA – Pittsburgh Chapter

Pointe West Homeowners Association

The Club at Pointe West

The Metropolitan Club of the City of Washington

Forest Lake Club

Belle Haven Country Club

The Lotos Club

Camp Lake James

Oakmont Country Club

Congressional Country Club

Dupont Country Club

Lubbock Country Club

Idaho Falls Country Club

Tarpon Cove Yacht and Racquet Club

Bronxville Field Club

University Club of Chicago

St. Francis Yacht Club

Wichita Country Club

Royce Brook Golf Club

Ventana Canyon Golf and Racquet Club

National Press Club (members only)

Lost Tree Club

The Admiral’s Cove Club

The World Health Golf Association

CMAA – New England Chapter

2007 C.A.R.E Benefit Registration

La Jolla Shores Hotel

The Yale Club of New York City

Greensboro Country Club

Wyoming Valley Country Club

 

What does the “emergence of the Clubessential Network” really mean to our club clients?  It’s the difference between a dead website that costs money but doesn’t generate any traffic or value, and a lively website that meets the expectations of members.  Here are some examples of real results:

A few days after the new website for the University Club of Michigan State University went live, we received a letter (
click here for entire letter) saying:



“We went live last Thursday afternoon at about 3:30 pm.  When I came in on Friday morning at 9:00, one of the Club’s banquet managers was waiting to tell me that she had received an online booking for a very large wedding reception...” 

“…we are receiving online banquet bookings – 5 so far in just the first few days…”




Then, a couple of weeks later, they sent us a second letter (click here for the entire letter):



“In the three weeks we’ve been live, we’ve received over 25 online inquires for membership, 15+ banquet inquiries…”

“[After we sent our first graphical email promoting a fitness center event]…the reservation calls for that event were way up over the weekend. (This event had been publicized previously with a direct mailing that did not result in very many calls.)”

“We are also receiving online registrations for our popular Dinner-Theater series.”




In April of 2007 we received a letter from Escalante Golf, a club management company (click here for the entire letter):



“…received great feedback from our members…we can tell that many of them are using the website often…The positive response has exceeded our expectations…will be extremely useful in helping us grow our business.”




Late last year, Arizona Country Club reported that their new website had created an avalanche of new membership requests (click here for the entire letter):



“In the last eight months since we [launched the new website] I have received well over a hundred online inquiries about our membership opportunities. [With the older website] there had not been one.”




As these letters show, the new website technology is dramatically better at producing real results that are meaningful for club management.  That’s why we believe the club market has reached its “Tipping Point” and why we have seen such a dramatic increase in new (or re-designed) website installations.

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