Ohmagosh, it’s time once more for the multitude of annual predictions posts! But this coming year promises to be particularly pivotal.

Perhaps it’s because it’s the beginning of a new decade, or maybe it’s because changes have been simmering to a slow boil. Whatever the reason, 2020 will have a profound effect on the club industry because we’re now entering The Experience Age.

The Experience Age is an evolution of the Information Age, which included 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 set to right the wrongs of its predecessor.

Of course, 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 that is only serving to raise the bar for defining an exceptional experience.

Below are the 5 Experience Age trends I predict will have the greatest impact on clubs in 2020.


1. Clubs Will Evolve from “What Happened?” to “What’s Next?”

2019 has put the pressure on clubs to own their data. One thing about data:  it’s information about things that have already happened. So, (stop me if you’ve heard this before), it’s like driving a car forward by looking in the rear view mirror. It’s slow, uncertain, and unsafe in a straight line. But it can be catastrophic if there are any obstacles or curves. 2020 will shift the focus to being predictive. Predictive analytics enable us to look forward. It uses data and statistical algorithms to identify the likelihood of future outcomes based on historical data. And best of all, it’s no longer just the domain of mathematicians and statisticians. New interactive and easy-to-use predictive analytic technology is now available to give private clubs this same power. Instead of looking backward to analyze "What happened?" predictive analytics is helping club executives answer "What's next?" and "What should we do about it?"


2. 2020 Will Be the Year of ‘Clubs Within Clubs’

There is a trend impacting both private country clubs and boutique fitness studios. Social clubs, fitness clubs, country clubs, and even retailers are trying to satisfy 3 major audiences that all share a common need: Families looking for like-minded communities, the gig economy and remote workers, and the ever increasing health and fitness conscious consumer. The result is that many private clubs are creating 'clubs within clubs' to keep their members engaged and at the club. Private clubs are recognizing the need to diversify. You can see how 5 clubs are meeting this trend by creating frictionless experiences.


3. Member Experience Will Become a Team Sport

For a while, only those individuals who directly engaged with members were tasked with member experience responsibility. In 2020, that will all change. It’s ridiculous for clubs to give lip service to member experience by simply assigning a few people to it and think they’re done. A member-first mindset is much different than hiring a great GM or Membership Director and thinking your work is done. In 2020, clubs will expand their member experience to encompass everything they do, from hiring and leadership development to marketing, payments and billing, logistics, and IT infrastructure. This is even more true when you learn consumers are willing to pay a price premium of up to 13% (and as high as 18%) for luxury and indulgence services, simply by receiving a great experience. In fact, a Walker study found that by the end of 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. But gaining this in-depth knowledge about customers isn’t something that just happens. You need to collect customer data (i.e. Voice of Customer data) and bring out valuable insights from that data with speed and precision.


4. Operational Data Will Create Room for Experience Data on Dashboards

Over the last decade, clubs have been inundated with data to help them optimize club operations. However, this valuable O-data (operational data) is typically fragmented, stored in various systems, and difficult to align into a narrative that informs the board and club decision-making. To further complicate matters, the Experience Economy is forcing clubs to look beyond the O-data and also evaluate the X-data (experience data). This X-data is providing the insight behind ‘why’ things happen. Spending on experiences has grown 4X faster than spending on goods and services. As clubs look to evolve how they operate in the experience age, standardization is essential. In 2020, clubs will implement solutions that fully integrate their X- and O-Data, collect information across their club, and provide best practice methodologies, controls, and tools. By combining X- and O-Data clubs will see the impact of their improvements on key metrics like revenue, sales, profit, engagement, attrition and much more.


5. Capital Improvements Will Give Way to Next Gen Improvements

This isn’t to say capital investments are going away. However, technology will become an investment that is planned and budgeted for. This is especially true for technology that has an impact on your members and staff. In fact, 62% of companies will now invest to meet the changing needs of customers, and in their 2020 report, PWC found that the number of companies investing in the omni-channel experience has jumped from 20% to more than 80%. For many clubs, capital improvements lose their luster once the project is complete. Investments in the member experience are felt everyday and sustain long after the ribbon-cutting. It also comes as no surprise why 84% of companies who claim to be customer-centric are now focusing on the mobile customer experience. If you want your customers to have a positive experience, you have to invest in it.


You can’t look forward without acknowledging the past - because the past is the strongest indicator of the future. And in the private club industry, the past indicates our continued path forward as innovators. This is an exceptionally exciting time for the club industry because 2020 and the years to come will see technology serve its original purpose, to connect, not divide.


Moving Forward

Knowing where your club stands is the first step in driving your club forward. Discover the four steps to exceeding member expectations in the experience age. 

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