One of the biggest challenges facing private country clubs today is Member Recruiting and Retention. The private club culture, the economy, the fast moving society and the need for individuality has changed the game the country clubs have to play to draw in new members and to keep the members they have. This game now has new rules and now has a higher risk since it is played today for survival instead for entertainment.
Country Clubs in most cases are not traditional type businesses. Many are not set up to make huge profits like a corporation even though many have been bought by large corporations. Since the game for country clubs is not necessarily pushed by the need to make high profits they look at marketing their needs differently.
The business plan for country club is simple…make enough revenue from the membership dues to pay for operations with a small percentage set back to use for future development or emergencies. At least that was the business plan and it worked when the magic number of membership was reach to pay the bills.
Now the business plans are threatened with the older generation who built most of the country clubs moving into the golden years of their lives. The older generation is leaving the private clubs to the next generation for which the next generation is not as receptive to the private country club way of life as their parents.
Enough has been said on what interests the new owners of the world’s economy. They truly are a breed apart from previous generations. The new potential country club member is much more savvy to everything they get involved with. They see country club’s not as sanctuaries for their social lives but as a place filled with old ideas and traditions that make no sense to their way of life.
What makes attracting the new breed of country club members a challenge is most country clubs try to hang onto old values and traditions which are of no interest or value to the new generation of country clubber’s. In actuality, the new country clubber will see private clubs who are not interested in change as places not to be.
So how do private country clubs attract new members and keep the members they have?
No matter how it is looked at, social media is now part of everything. When it comes to promoting a cause, interest or service social media has to be used in order to touch the larger markets. Country Clubs have got to grab hold of how social media really works and phase out the old traditional methods of hanging promotional banners around the club and placing billboards in the clubhouse lobby as a way to promote new membership. Change has got to be made in the approach country clubs take to connect to the public. They have to balance their push to get to the C Suites of America with making a stronger effort to reach out to the entrepreneurial community which is out growing the corporate community.
This is done through the effective use of social media which is much more than creating a fancy Facebook Page or plugging into one of the many Twitter ‘dribble’ feeds. Country Clubs need to think differently when it comes to social media and not think of the social space as just another place to hang a promotional banner. Taking a more serious attitude towards social media is the the first step most private clubs need to make if they truly are out to take on the challenge of attracting new members.
Someone to Meet the Challenge
Social Media only works when it is taken seriously. There has to be a dedication to what social media will produce. This dedication and seriousness can only be developed through thoughtful administration of the club’s social media. Specifically, every club should have a Social Mediaist. Just like a marketing director there needs to be someone who is dedicated to implementing social media on a broad scale.
Social Media in the private club environment has two sides. There is the external socializing and reaching out to people online that serves as the main thrust to attracting new members. Equally, there is an internal component of a private club’s social media that uses the same passion towards reaching out to current members online to socialize with them…not just throwing worthless promotions at them..but truly reaching out and touch members individually.
The naysayers, who are more than likely reading this if they have made it this far, will quickly disavow social media as not meeting their style, or would never work since it would require a large staff of people to manage. Most of the excuses are based on the reader’s totally lack of understanding of social media which is part of the denial most private clubs have that anything has changed in their industry.
What is facing the private clubs Today is ‘Tomorrow’ which is pushing ‘Yesterday’ quickly out the door so it can now become ‘Today’. Clubs that are not facing off Tomorrow but relishing in what took place Yesterday will be going out the door with Yesterday. It is clear ‘Today’ is who is paying the bills and those who live in Tomorrow who who will pay the bills from Yesterday.
Private Country Clubs who have not hired a social mediaist, which are not many, are quickly falling behind in capturing their market. Even the C Suite CEO’s are now online in the social spaces learning the game and looking for the people the teach them how to play the game. They are looking for the social mediaist who fit into their organizations.
It will not be long before the social mediaist of the world will be sitting in the board rooms providing input into how businesses need to market their product services. This will lead to social mediaist talking to other social mediaist in other industries as part of passing the word. If Private Clubs are not in than game, or do not have a social mediaist to play it for them, they will be sitting in their board rooms wondering what happened.
The time for change in the private country club has passed. If you are one of them whom missed the train, let me know how I can help.