We have seen a ton of transformation in the last 12 months. Contactless experiences were already on the way and they are here to stay.

Yet the underlying goal or problem that we’re all passionate about solving has stayed the same: how do we continue to create value-added experiences on and off club grounds. Whether it is with peers, family, or work colleagues, creating valuable experiences is at every club’s core. Our customers, your staff, and members expect that safe, contactless, efficient, and elevated member experiences are here to stay.


Three Pillars of Success to Transform your Club 

Based on years of experience, considering recent events, and looking forward, we’ve identified three pillars of success to continue to transform your club to drive the most value you can for your members and staff. 

1. Build a Strong Foundation 
 A strong foundation is needed at all clubs:  from your finances and facilities to technology. The need to have operations that quickly can scale with a dynamically changing environment is critical. Historically when we have thought about scale we have been thinking about making sure our facilities have the support to scale. Is the irrigation system solid for the course? The same thing applies to our homes. At home how old is our furnace or roof?  But we quickly learned that the strong foundation was more than our “facilities” and how our balance sheet looked. 

Those two fundamental variables continue to be important and now more than ever, a steady investment in technology is critical as well. That’s where a clear separation happens. Is technology a burden or is it an essential part of your value proposition? Consider your mindset - how do you view technology? And, how would you like to see it moving forward? Ultimately, the Club that recognizes their membership and staff’s most precious commodity is their time, and therefore seek to eliminate any unnecessary investment of it, for anything other than making lasting memories, savoring sweet moments of connection, or recapturing their inner self through activities they love, will invest in technology.

2. Commit to Innovation in all that You Do 
Joshua DuBois of Gague.ai a firm that specializes in rapid surveys to quickly identify trends across markets, has asked the question: “How can you position your products to be part of the hybrid normalcy and answer the question of what changes since COVID do you want to keep?” A key trend from his survey results is that people want things to be more effortless. People want experiences to come to them. This is not a time to sit back and think they are going to go back to the way they were before. We need to make things “radically easy for consumers where they are.”

So how can you look at your club, your peers, and benchmark against your club’s own performance, your peers, and innovation in other industries to keep your club moving forward? Start by falling in love with the problem - delivering incredible member experiences, over and over. If you are a club that says you want to make innovation a focus of yours; you MUST HAVE timely, effective, established feedback loops with your prospects, existing members, and other stakeholders to feed insights and transparent feedback into the hands of your club’s decision-makers. You must also have a process to vet the feedback that is flowing into those channels.  Is it a one-off request, or an evolving trend? Are many people asking for it, or is it a unique situation that won’t benefit the majority of your target audience? Does it align with your core values and mission? Is it sustainable? 

3. Create the Future: Adoption Processes to Accelerate Results 
When your staff works smarter it allows them to spend more time on member innovation and experience. And we encourage you not to forget - adoption is not just about your staff - it is also about your members. Making sure they understand why the club is introducing something new and how they can easily adapt as well. Change that comes with innovation is not always easy.  In the past year, the solutions we described have empowered clubs in a way, that without a pandemic, may have taken another decade for clubs to truly embrace.  And yet, out of necessity, the physical walls binding your club together started to expand virtually - and “value” to a member continued to be redefined - by not only what was going on in the private club space, but also what was going on in the world at large. UberEats, Doordash, Amazon, anytime, anywhere solutions - these competitive forces that super-powered user experiences outside of the club, created a mandatory order for clubs to invite and embrace innovation in a meaningful way. The key to change is having a vision so strong, that desire for the vision combined with a well-thought-out change management plan eradicates the fear and uncertainty associated with the change. 


What’s Next?

If COVID taught us anything, those companies that have succeeded had a few common traits: adaptability and innovation. Having staff that is crossed trained and can do more than one thing to provide service to your members when and where they need it. The McMahon Group pulse survey  reflected that 66% of country clubs have gained members during the COVID pandemic while only 22% of city/athletic clubs have gained members.  Our goal for all of you is to have the adoption mechanisms in place that you can all have time to innovate and grow whether it is during the pandemic or post-pandemic.

This is a written excerpt of the presentation from the Clubessential 2021 Digital Summit, Clubs in a Post-COVID World. You can view it, along with all of the other sessions, in their entirety here.