Adapting to the Times: How Private Clubs Can Maintain and Grow Membership Through Obstacles


By Kyle Bradburn, Digital & Creative Marketing Director, Capstone Hospitality


Private clubs have long been a staple of the American lifestyle, providing exclusive access to luxury amenities, fine dining, and networking opportunities. However, with the world facing an imminent recession, private clubs are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain their membership and keep their revenue streams flowing. The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that the ability to adapt to ever-changing circumstances is vital to the success of many clubs throughout the United States. In this article, we will explore how private clubs can maintain and even grow their membership base by focusing on three key factors: a great sales process, state of the art amenities, and great social programming. 

A great sales process is critical for private clubs to attract and retain members. A club's sales team needs to be proactive in reaching out to potential members and showcasing the benefits of membership. The team should have a deep understanding of the club's offerings and be able to tailor their pitch to the individual needs and interests of each potential member. 

One way to improve the sales process is by investing in technology. Start with a way to track leads. You should be able to track a lead through your entire sales process. This allows your club to not only understand your conversion rates better, but to understand where the process can improve. Once a problem is pinpointed a solution can be implemented into the process to the conversion from prospect to member. We’ve seen a considerable increase in that time for conversions from down to 12 days during the peak of Covid-19, returning to pre-pandemic data closer to 28 days - it’s vital your process is sharp from beginning to end. 

Another crucial aspect of a great sales process is the onboarding process. Once a new member joins the club, it's important to make them feel welcome and help them integrate into the club's community. This can include personalized welcome packages, special events for new members, and assigning a designated staff member as a point of contact/liaison to ensure they get integrated right out of the gate. 

State of the art amenities are a major draw for private club members. Members want access to top-notch facilities and services that meet their needs and exceed their expectations. Investing in high-quality amenities can help private clubs attract and retain members. Consider your clubs demographic, and more specifically how it’s changed over the past few years. Your investments have to match your new clientele and ensure that you remain competitive in your local marketplace. 

Some examples of state of the art amenities that private clubs can offer include:

● Fitness centers with the latest equipment and personal training services

● Golf simulators for rental, lessons/fittings, and kids programming 

● Spa services featuring the latest in beauty and wellness treatments 

● Gourmet dining options with world-class chefs 

● Private meeting and event spaces equipped with the latest technology

It's also important to ensure that these amenities are well-maintained and regularly updated to keep members engaged and excited about their membership. 

Great social programming is another key factor in maintaining and growing a private club's membership base. Members want to feel like they are part of a community and have access to exclusive events and experiences. A robust social calendar can help foster this sense of community and keep members engaged. 

Private clubs can offer a variety of social programming options, including: 

● Networking events for members to connect with one another 

● Educational seminars and workshops on topics of interest to members

● Cultural events, such as art exhibitions and musical performances 

● Family-friendly events, such as holiday parties and children's activities

● Special interest groups, such as book clubs and wine-tasting clubs 

By offering a diverse range of social programming options, private clubs can appeal to a wide range of members and help build a strong sense of community. 

Ultimately, success in the private club industry comes down to providing exceptional value and experiences for members. By focusing on delivering exceptional service, amenities, and programming, private clubs can create a loyal membership base that will stand by them through thick and thin. So whether you're a private club owner, manager, or member, remember that there are always ways to maintain and grow your membership base, even in challenging times. Have an honest assessment of your club, its amenities, and its sales process then you can formulate a plan of action and ensure small goals align with the long-term vision. 


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If your club is looking to grow your memberships through ever changing circumstances contact the Membership Experts at Capstone Hospitality today.

** The views and opinions featured in Golf Business WEEKLY are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the NGCOA.**