By Dr. William D. Ivers, CEO, Clubessential
Here’s why a General Manager should focus some attention on email:
- Well targeted email can increase member participation at every event. How often have you experienced a sell-out? Use email well, and you will experience more.
- Email can build the bonds of community between members, making the club a more important and more permanent part of their lives.
- Email can personalize members’ relationships with the GM, the Chef and other key staff. Wouldn't it be nice to walk into a crowded dining room to be greeted with smiling recognition at every table?
- Email can tempt passive members into trying club services they never use. Engaging such members is the secret to a vibrant club atmosphere.
- Yet email is so cheap it hardly appears in the budget.
This article is one of ten that will be sent, one per week, for ten weeks.
1. Capture Your Membership’s Email Addresses
2. Be Consistent
3. Make Staff Come Alive
4. Make Members Come Alive
Next Week's Installment:
Drive Traffic to Your Web Site
Step 5 of 10 to engage your membership with email
Make Events Come Alive:
Last week we discussed how club management could, with some simple planning around email communication and a few hours of work each month, significantly improve the density of personal relationships within the club membership, a goal of every general manager. This week we address another club management objective: converting club events into member traditions.
Club events are most effective when they become traditions: ritualized social engagements that the members fondly anticipate. What turns a plain old event into a tradition? You might argue that it is the quality of the food, the beauty of the venue, the music of the band, the grooming of the grounds, the graciousness of the service, or any number of other factors, and you would be right – but all of these qualities must be remembered if a tradition is to grow. In the old days traditions took many years to build as a slowly increasing fraction of the membership was introduced, usually by word of mouth, to the event each year, and the institutional memory was gradually constructed.
But now we have email. Email can remind members of the fun they had in prior years, and memorialize each aspect of an event with a collage of pictures. Such emails can be used after an event to let everyone who was unable to attend appreciate some of the good times. But they can also be used before an event to remind everyone why they ought to attend. The emails can link back to full archives of pictures on the Web site, where interested members can leaf through the albums of prior years. In this way members will be “teased” back to the Web site, where they will be reminded of the rich traditions surrounding the event.
Email and Web site archives can turn the unique aspects of any event into “instant traditions” with just a little bit of planning and research. Let’s consider a couple of examples.
- Suppose your chef used to live on Cape Cod and learned a special way to roast lobster and mussels with seaweed in a sand fire pit. Let’s say he learned this approach from an old guy named Albie Pickens who fought in World War I. First, find some pictures of Albie. Then, name the fire pit the “Albie Pickens Fire Pit.” Then write up the lore of the Albie Pickens lobster roast and include it on the Web site and in the emails. Stage some rituals around the lighting of the pit, the roasting of the lobsters and the carving of the tails for members. The point is: you can turn a nondescript lobster roast into a cultural event just by using a little bit of thought followed by photography and some email and Web site communication.
- I happened to be at my own club in the late afternoon before a big event, when the chef was attempting to float a big ice sculpture in the swimming pool. It took nearly an hour, with several near disasters and the chef and his assistants all got soaked. It was hilarious, but I was the only one to see it. Next year management should kick off this event with a happy hour starting at 5:30 around the pool, the entertainment being the floating of the ice sculpture. A dunking of the chef could become part of the traditional fun. Imagine the emails that could lead up to this event and the picture collages that would bring back fine memories the following years. This event would be sold out.
At first it may seem impossible to “design” a tradition, but it is actually very easy. The first step is to decide that every major event should have traditions. Then, as you plan each event, think about what those traditions should be. You don’t need to introduce them all the first year. Gradually start identifying the unique aspects of each event and create emails and archives to match.
These commemorative emails are very easy to assemble, because modern email tools allow for creation of artistic frames (templates) which can be reused (more on this is a later article). The same kind of templates can be used to organize the pictures in a pleasing way in the Web site archives.
Email and Web sites may seem the exact opposite of “traditional” but these tools help a club build a tradition around an annual event (and greater participation) more quickly.
Next week we will discuss the importance of driving member traffic to your Web site and what easy things you can do to make it happen.