Predictive Analytics – Clubs’ New View Forward


July 20, 2023

Data. Dashboards. Analytics. We hear these words tossed around with ease. In its simplest form, we’re talking about numbers.

Numbers collected from thousands of members, over dozens of years, across multiple systems, representing tens of thousands of transactions all colliding within a server, or a data warehouse, or a data lake (yes, that’s an actual thing). And numbers aren’t even what we really want. As club executives, we’re working to derive insights from data and then draw on those insights to shape business decisions and, ultimately, improve business performance. So without a degree in data science how are we supposed to consolidate all of this information into a report that actually means something and we can use going forward?

From “What Happened?” to “What’s Next?”

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. 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?”

Predictive Analytics 101

Predictive tools allow you to score specific data sets important to you and your club for a select time period, like 12 months or 24 months. Say, for example, you wanted to identify at-risk members. You can look at the money spent at the club, dependents money spent at the club, years of membership at the club, the number of late payments made, reservations made, etc.

With that information set, you can then generate reports to easily see engaged and/or disengaged members are at a glance, highlight meaningful changes and trends for specified periods of time, and compare specific members against the engagement behavior of your average member. With that information, you’ll be able to identify warning signs of a member becoming disengaged and take specific actions.

Why is Predictive Analytics Important?

When comparing clubs at different maturity stages, we find they fall into one of four stages; developing, emerging, strategic, and leading. Clubs in the Developing stage are collecting the data. For example, they might be comparing sales over time and looking for trends in dining or other areas of the club. But the view is limited to specific areas and often very manual in nature. Emerging clubs are processing this data into CRM dashboards to track utilization across different areas in a holistic view. Strategic clubs have processes in place to make data-driven decisions. They’ve set goals that are member specific and will serve to maximize the operations. Leading clubs have evolved beyond their dashboard data and are now leveraging predictive analytics to help solve difficult problems and look forward to identify new opportunities. Leading clubs also happen to be the ones most successfully moving with and engaging with new member groups.

Where to Apply Predictive Analytics in Clubs

Predictive analytics don’t really have limitations on their use, but it is good to start with test-cases and scenarios that have been proven and verified before. Following are a few examples.

Improving operations. Many industries use predictive models to forecast inventory and manage resources. Airlines use predictive analytics to set ticket prices. Hotels use it to predict the number of guests to maximize occupancy and increase revenue. We’ve spoken with leading clubs that are identifying various ways to operationalize their club with data. For example, clubs are able to use data to accurately predict the demand for their banquet facilities at different times of the year and days of the week and adjust the pricing accordingly. The result is optimized usage and maximized revenue.

Optimizing marketing campaigns. Predictive analytics are used to determine member responses or purchases, as well as promote cross-sell opportunities. It helps to identify communication channels and the best timing for communications, enabling you to plan future member events and offers when members are most likely to be receptive.

Recruit and retain members. Like mentioned above, predictive modeling allows you to develop member intelligence by defining and understanding what constitutes an engaged member. You collect massive amounts of data within your system. The Clubessential MAP module aggregates all the data already in your system and models that information to identify who is engaged and predict who is at risk. With the click of a button, you have access to individual member trend analyses and reports on who has fallen below the engagement threshold. You can then use this data to re-engage a member before a cancellation notice crosses your desk or pair one highly engaged member with a prospect to enhance recruiting efforts.

Looking into the Future, Literally

Getting a crystal-ball view of the future is huge for any club – who doesn’t want that? And while dashboards are great and not going away anytime soon (in fact we provide many within our own tools like club intelligence, AP, employee, general ledger, dining, and retail dashboards) they only provide a view of the past and present. There’s a time and a place for that. There’s also a need to know what’s to come. Predictive analytics allows your club to focus on the future and make in-the-moment decisions. That’s a game-changer for the club industry.

Learn More in our Guide for Club Executives – Keys to Evaluating Your Membership Marketing & Club Management Software