From Total Experience to Everything-as-a-Service: The Top 10 Technology Trends That Will Impact the Private Club Industry in 2022
Every year firms like Gartner and McKinsey unveil their technology predictions with the same fanfare you find with the release of the new Corvette® or Camaro®.1 And much like those new car models, we find ourselves thinking ‘that’s hot, but is it worth the investment?’. There’s no question that the 2019 predictions fell flat in the wake of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. That upheaval experienced in 2020 led to some ambitious technology predictions for 2021, many of which were very accurate and also accelerated out of necessity. As we look forward to 2022, what I find is less ‘new disruptive technology’, and instead an eye on integrating and mining what we can with existing technologies. 2022 will allow us an opportunity to refine and perfect our investments. And as we think about the order of operations best practice (people-process-technology) I hope that it also gives us a chance to consider the people and process as much as we have the technology over the last 20+ months.
As businesses continue to evolve in the Experience Age, these are the trends we expect to make an impact across a multitude of industries. Below are the Top Ten Trends we believe will have the greatest impact on the private club industry.
1. Total Experience (TX)
Multi experience, will further unite with customer experience, employee experience, and user experience to focus on the Total Experience. Online reservation systems integrated with your club’s app, enhanced by geofencing, will power one-to-one auto-communications, check-in processes, and offers. These technologies will also integrate with the tools used by your club staff, like tablets, to guide and engage the continued experience. We’ll see apps shift from transactional tools to become more community engagement driven, allowing for interaction. As individuals become more disenfranchised with social media, they’ll begin to turn more to their tribes, and they’ll have multiple tribes, found throughout their member experience apps.
Speaking of geofencing, the increase in the use of smartphones, growth in mobile commerce, and availability of low-cost, GPS-enabled smartphones are expected to further drive the use of this technology. Technological advancements in cloud computing, Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), Global Positioning System (GPS), and wireless technologies support the growth of Location-Based Services (LBS), especially geofencing. This technology allows you to create a virtual boundary around a targeted club location of your choice. You can set this location within a city or even within your club. When a mobile user enters this defined location, you can trigger different events using geofence technology. This can be done either through the use of SMS or through push notifications. So by using this technology, you can deliver the right experience to the right audience at the right time.
3. Decision Intelligence (DI)
An organization’s decision-making competency can be a significant source of competitive advantage, but it’s becoming more demanding. Decision intelligence is a practical discipline used to improve decision-making by explicitly understanding and engineering how decisions are made, and outcomes evaluated, managed, and improved by feedback. The degree to which clubs can derive insight, even in the most uncertain of times, is improving exponentially. This trend is capitalizing on the modularity of current club systems and using the data to drive autonomy, orchestration, and discovery. Clubs not only have more access to information, they now have the ability to augment that information with new insights, frameworks, and infrastructure to accommodate the ever-changing club and member dynamic. Clubs can use this insight to navigate uncertainty as well as identify trends and member behavior to create new club services.
4. Hyper Automation
Hyper Automation enables accelerated growth and business resilience by rapidly identifying, vetting, and automating as many processes as possible. No single tool can replace humans, so hyper automation involves a combination of tools, including process automation, intelligent business systems and AI, with a goal of increasingly better informed decision making. Hyper Automation extends across both the technology that can be automated, as well as to the sophistication of the automation. When considering technology, clubs step through a process of ‘discover’, ‘analyze’, ‘design’, ‘automate’, ‘measure’, ‘monitor’, and ‘reassess’ to identify a fully unified system that accomplishes their objectives. When evaluating this trend, consider these three key priorities: improving the quality of work, speeding up business processes, and enhancing the agility of decision-making.
5. Augmented Reality Integration
When you hear ‘augmented reality’, you might immediately think of Oculus and the world of gaming. However, AR integration has been a mobile app development trend for a few years now, and it will continue to be an emerging trend going into 2022 as it is still quite far from becoming standard technology. The integration into the business space allows clubs to interact with their customers in a more personalized way by allowing them to create experiences or showcase stories that will portray their establishments and what they have to offer in the best way.
6. Distributed Experiences
With the rise in remote and hybrid experience patterns, traditional in-person engagement is evolving, allowing people to engage on their preferred platforms at their preferred time. This is requiring clubs to make changes to deliver frictionless member experiences. This is having an impact on the delivery model and how clubs embrace distributed services. New business and operating models have been designed, allowing clubs to reach their members through “anywhere operations” enabling their employees anywhere, and use digital technologies to deliver services anywhere, both on and off club grounds. Clubs will continue to allow contactless checkout, use of sensors to enforce social distancing, management of club operations and personnel through an app, and engagement among members and staff through their mobile device. Anywhere operations are so much more than online food ordering and reservations, that’s just the beginning. Creative clubs will expand these capabilities only limited by their imagination.
7. Digitization, Datafication, and Virtualization
During 2020 and 2021, many of us experienced the virtualization of offices, fitness centers, dining establishments, healthcare, and entertainment. But this was just a crisis-driven surge of a much longer-term trend. Gartner astutely states that in 2022, we will become increasingly familiar with the concept of a “metaverse”, where persistent digital worlds exist in parallel with the physical world we live in. Inside these metaverses, we will carry out many of the functions we’re used to doing in the real world, including working, playing, and socializing. As the rate of digitization increases, these metaverses will model and simulate the real world with growing accuracy, allowing us to have more immersive, convincing, and ultimately valuable experiences within the digital realm. This doesn’t mean that in-person experience disappears. Quite the opposite actually. This means more opportunity to immerse in the communities we appreciate the most.
8. Transparency, Governance, and Accountability
For technology to work, we humans need to be able to trust it. We already (rightly) see strong push-backs against many ways that technology is currently being used that are seen as obtrusive, dangerous, or irresponsible. The idea of transparent and explainable AI has been growing in popularity over recent years, as it has become clear that there are segments of society that distrust it – clearly with good reason! Governments, too, clearly understand that there is a need for a regulatory framework, as evidenced by the existence of the EU’s proposed Artificial Intelligence Act. Google CEO Sundar Pichai has said that while he recognizes regulation of AI is necessary, “there is a balance to be had” to ensure innovation isn’t stifled. This balancing act is likely to become an increasingly prominent subject of discussion during 2022 as more people become aware of the potential positive and negative effects on society that AI and other technology trends will have. As members become more aware of how their data is being collected and used, clubs are also recognizing the increasing liability of storing and gathering the data. Additionally, AI and Machine Learning are increasingly used to make decisions, evolving the trust crisis and driving the need for governance. This trend requires a focus on six key elements of trust: Ethics, integrity, openness, accountability, competence, and consistency. Legislation, like CASL and GDPR, are being enacted around the world, driving evolution and laying the ground rules for clubs.
9. Health and Wellness Technology
In order to deliver a more comprehensive member experience, clubs continue to invest in their fitness centers and spas. But just as clubs make those capital investments, they must also consider the complimentary investment into supporting technology. Clubs must incorporate technology that supports health and wellness integration. One of the biggest shifts during the last 16 months is how ‘wellness’ is defined. It’s no longer just about exercise. Wellness focuses on mental, nutritional, and physical health. Many fitness apps now integrate with other wellness apps like Calm and Weight Watchers. The opportunity for wellness app enhancements will be focused on a shift from the reactive data input of many current apps, to more proactive behavior-prompt apps. Certainly understanding spa, fitness center, class, service provider, and instructor utilization is essential, and this behavioral data helps with that. Clubs should also evaluate the digital body language of their members. By analyzing engagement within the app, and on the website, clubs can begin to understand the implicit interests of their members based on how they search and navigate.
XaaS is short for Everything-as-a-Service and sometimes Anything-as-a-Service. XaaS reflects how organizations across the globe are adopting the as-a-Service method for delivering just about, well, everything, with the primary goal of increasing value for the customer. In a recent study by Deloitte, 80% of respondents see XaaS as critical to the digital information of their company. Clubs must consider how to rapidly scale IT capacity, operations, and cost. They must accelerate innovation, access technology, and enhance selling and retention capabilities. And most importantly, they must foster deep engagement to facilitate member loyalty.
Next Steps for 2022
We know that technology will play a critical role in helping clubs deliver the evolving member experience they expect. The first step in that process is knowing where you stand in regards to your technology adoption and implementation. Check out the Private Club Maturity Model to see where you stand, how you compare to your peers, and to plan your next steps. Download your complementary copy to get started.
1. Corvette and Camaro are both trademarks of General Motors LLC.