Important: Identifying Country Club Demographic Trends

Private clubs are changing throughout the country. Whether it’s augmenting club policies in regards to technology, or relaxing rules and guidelines to accommodate families, clubs are changing in response to shifting member demographics and interests. As a club manager, how do you address these changes? What methods can you use to assess and identify the areas of your club that you need to change and improve, and which areas should continue on undisturbed?

Identify Your Member Interests and Areas for Improvement

Private clubs have limited clientele. As clubs are not open to the public, your members and member guests are your only customers. This capped clientele can pose problems or limitations for generating revenue in certain areas like food and beverage or use of amenities, but it can be a plus when it comes to identifying your customers (members) needs and wishes. Membership means repeat visits, and that repetition gives club managers a great ability to identify specific behaviors and interests. This gives club managers an advantage when it comes to understanding members and demographics. In addition to club management, the majority of private clubs in the U.S. are equity clubs, or clubs that are owned by members. This means many decision makers are members themselves

A common way to perform this sort of identification is through situation analysis, or a SWOT exercise. SWOT analysis, or Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats, helps you properly identify the areas that need improvement and pairing them with opportunities for improvement.

Identifying Opportunities To Excel

If a large percentage of new members prefer tennis over golf then club managers and club boards need to respond to these new interests. If the new members enjoy playing doubles tennis with his or her family on Saturday mornings, then clubs must be able to identify tennis facilities as an important amenity for new members. In the new year maybe covered tennis facilities are budgeted for as high priority.

With changing club demographics, the importance of certain club amenities will be in flux. As club managers are watching the stagnant numbers for golf’s popularity, they are looking for other areas to drum up member engagement and raise club revenue.

Food and beverage services have long been seen as a profit loss center subsidized by membership dues. But club dining rooms are becoming more important as an amenity for members and member families. Services like iPad wine lists are being adopted in many private clubs across the country. Digital wine and beverage menus are being seen as a way to increase sales without raising menu prices. It’s also a way to engage more members to order wine, craft beers, and cocktails.

Identifying Trends Outside of Clubs

Club managers must be aware of trends in markets outside of their club memberships as well. National trends can predict changes in club membership and member interests.

As clubs becoming more willing to become flexible they will be able to respond to trends more easily. Younger generations are becoming more active in clubs and when clubs respond to their needs it will encourage new members to belong to clubs and help flat initiation fees increase.

Kyle Thacker