“What we're finding is that individuals are starving for relationships.” That’s what Graham House, Clubhouse and Lodging Manager of Cordillera Ranch sees as one of the biggest changes - and opportunities - for clubs.
That’s good news for the industry because that’s exactly why clubs exist. Everyone recalls the talk about how the millennials were gonna ‘kill the club business’ (along with everything else) and how they just weren't interested in clubs. That’s not been Graham’s experience. “Parents are working a lot and the kids are all tied to their phones. But once they get involved in the club scene they are building relationships. The relationship factor for the younger generation is now a very big part of our business. That has been the biggest change in the last decade. Now we've got to be programming towards families. It's been a 180-degree switch and it’s a huge opportunity for every club.”
Touching Tables and Engaging Members
After more than forty years in the Club Industry, from working the snack bar to lifeguarding to the kitchen to now being a manager, you might expect that Graham has seen a lot of change, and that’s true. But the core elements of creating an exceptional member experience have not wavered and it starts with employees. It’s something that he understands because he’s been on the frontline and in crew members’ shoes. “It’s listening to members and being engaged with them,” says Graham. “It’s about building relationships. Then it becomes a professional friendship, and complaints are not complaints, they’re feedback. That’s how you develop a better club experience.”
One of Cordillera’s actual stated goals is to be the friendliest and most engaging club in the world. Their lifestyle motto is ‘life is better out here.’ Delivering on those objectives starts the moment anyone arrives on the property. “When our members or guests come here there's somebody engaging them as they get out of their car, even with just a hand wave. We call it touching tables and engaging members everywhere,” said Graham. That requires hiring and retaining the right people, especially given the small labor pool in their area. “We really work hard to give our employees that great experience that life is better out here when you work here. We rate our staff every week. We talk about how we can be more engaging and how we can create events that reflect our mission. It's a lifestyle that we have to create for everybody here.”
Club Experience Personalized Through Technology
What next generation clubs like Cordillera know is that technology is an enabler, not a replacement, for the personal touch. It will always be about people. While they have embraced technology, it’s not the focus of the experience. That said, Cordillera is moving ahead to take those personal ‘table touches’ into new communication channels. “We want to stay creative, “he says. “We’ll look at what we have and say how can we use it to be completely different? One of the pieces that we all know is going to be big is video. It's happening on Facebook. It's happening everywhere. Pictures will no longer be the thing. Everything will be video.” That’s not just something that Graham knows through instinct. One report suggests that the time spent with video will grow by 25% by 2020.
Graham knows (because he knows his members) that the change won’t be evenly distributed across social media channels and members. “We've got a wide range of members age-wise. Some use Facebook, others Twitter and Instagram. We use all of those social media tools to get our message out and all have worked very well for us.” Tracking their usage is key to meeting goals, but it never stops. “We are now just getting into using the mobile app for push notifications. Our goal here is to help drive not only what we do and how active our club is, but also the brand,” says Graham. Doing so will enable the crew at Cordillera to engage members with a personal touch from driveway to driveway and even before they arrive on the property.
Opportunity for Change Means Future Opportunities
It’s safe to say that Graham sees a bright future for clubs like Cordillera Ranch that are willing to adapt. “The clubs that want to remain successful in the future and grow have to change with the times. They must be innovators and continue to look out of the box for activities that drive the family experience. Millennials are really a big part of our future now -- healthy lifestyles, social, and recreational activities focused on the families are important.” Touching tables and engaging members, that's how they’ll satisfy the new hunger for relationships.
About Cordillera Ranch
Cordillera Ranch, is an exclusive, master-planned community offering the very finest in resort-style living on 8700 acres of unsurpassed Texas Hill Country beauty carved by the Guadalupe River. Learn more: http://www.cordilleraranch.com/
About This Series
The Club Industry is changing — it has to change to keep pace with its audience. At the front of that change are club leaders paving the way by blending new ideas and member experiences into something familiar and yet different. We’re featuring these trailblazers, the Next Generation of Club Leaders, to share and better understand their stories, successes, and their impact on the future of the club industry.
Do you Know a Next Generation Leader?
Throughout the year we’ll spotlight trail-blazers in the industry that are leading the way through member experience, programming, operations, and technology. Do you know someone that fits that description? Nominate them here.
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