Founded in 1901 in northwest suburban Chicago, Elgin Country Club offers members, their families, and guests a beautiful 18-hole golf course, large swimming pool, tennis courts, great dining, and extensive event programs.
The Elgin, Illinois-based private club has long been a staple in the lives of hundreds of guests and members, and would continue to be so only with the right web presence and online communication tools.
Attracting New Members Requires a High-Impact Presence
Like many private clubs, Elgin’s existing marketing programs did not adequately address today’s challenges of retaining existing members and driving new member recruitment. Elgin’s website, provided by their accounting and Point of Sale vendor, proved to be an inadequate tool for either job. Recognizing this problem, the Elgin Board of Directors asked Mike Andelman, a member with 30+ years of eCommerce and business technology experience, to lead evaluation, selection, and implementation of a best-of-breed website solution.
Our former website vendor was more focused on its accounting product. Website support was barely an afterthought. They did not recognize the value of an effective web presence.“Our previous website did not serve the members at all,” Andelman recalled. “The status quo prevented us from maintaining and growing our membership to improve our financial performance. Turnover was a way of life,” said Andelman. “Our former website vendor was more focused on its accounting product. Website support was barely an afterthought,” Andelman added. “They did not recognize the value of an effective web presence.”
High on the list of requirements was a website provider offering a modern, feature-rich platform with ongoing product support and development programs who would be a true partner for Elgin. After surveying available solutions in the private club industry, Elgin determined that Clubessential was the best choice to deliver a strong online presence to achieve its objectives.
Optimizing Member Conversion and Engagement
Andelman recognized that for existing members, the private side of the new website had to be “all things Elgin.” Moreover, he recognized the need for a public website that could effectively promote its facilities and social experience to prospective new members. He and the team at Elgin were aided in accomplishing this goal with help from Clubessential's M3 marketing team. The M3 team had a keen understanding about the right combination of keywords for search engine optimization - a fundamental requirement to effectively support all aspects of Elgin’s marketing programs.
The new website engages members with regularly updated content from events, along with a dining reservations engine powered by Clubessential that makes event sign-up easy. “The previous website platform lacked tools for maintaining important information,” said Andelman. “Clubessential capabilities have solved all of our problems."
New GM, Douglas Stewart, CCM, was also happy to see Elgin partner with Clubessential: “When hired on as Elgin Country Club’s GM/COO on July 1st, I was delighted to see the Club had contracted with Clubessential for their website platform. Having worked with Clubessential at my two prior clubs, I have witnessed firsthand the benefits it can provide. I have found this product to be the best in the industry to address the challenges clubs are facing today as it pertains to member recruitment, retention, and communication. I believe a club’s website must become the heart and soul of what is needed to define new programs, marketing, and member participation.”
Member Engagement and Growing Membership are the New Reality
Elgin’s new website, while it was a big project, launched on time on April 4th. Within just the first two months site statistics reported 210 new visitors daily. The Membership Information Page alone received 945 unique visits in that time period and emails sent to club members had a 60% open rate. “On our old platform it was impossible to measure anything” according to Andelman.
You want the members to have a high-quality user experience. Clubessential's tools provide Elgin staff with the ability to deliver that. More importantly, Elgin received one new Membership inquiry submission per day after launching the website. Those membership inquiries are automatically entered in Clubessential’s companion CRM and Data Warehouse (implemented in unison with the website). Elgin’s CRM automates marketing activities and email targeting tools. This enabled Elgin staff to more effectively recruit and convert prospects into members. As a result, Elgin was able to capture 35 new members within 51 days of website launch.
The new website also improved event marketing to existing members, generating 70% of more than 800 reservations for the Mother's Day brunch, a major improvement from the previous phone-in method.
As he reflected upon Elgin's relationship with Clubessential, Andelman described how a club might use technology for a better member experience: “You want the members to have a high-quality user experience.” Clubessential's tools provide Elgin staff with the ability to deliver that kind of experience. Before the website project began, the club wrote a mission statement that defined objectives we hoped to achieve with the new website. “Clubessential has helped us exceed our objectives in every category.”
The success achieved by Elgin with Clubessential’s solutions, support teams and commitment to its customers are vital to improving every aspect of private club operations. Clubessential is proud to work with Elgin Country Club, and we congratulate them for turning their goals into reality, and look forward to helping drive their future.
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