Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Membership After COVID-19 Lockdown

Private Club Marketing looks at strategies to maximize your budget to grow and retain your membership after the COVID-19 lockdown

The prolonged lockdown to counter the spread of COVID-19 has been lifted or is being eased in phases. Private clubs are resuming operations in whatever capacity possible, but uncertainty is still staring everyone dead in the eye. The conundrum to save money wherever possible, or to grab the attention of members and prospects, is plaguing GM’s, Membership Directors and BODs all around the globe. Some clubs have eliminated their Membership Director’s position, adding additional stress to the GM and Catering team’s already full plates. Others have frozen membership sales and retention budgets and plan to wait it out until they deem it safe to resume.

FREEZING MEMBERSHIP MARKETING AND RETENTION BUDGETS MAY BE THE WRONG IDEA

Freezing membership sales and retention budgets will land these clubs in trouble. A survey by the American Association of Advertising Agencies states that 43% of consumers find it reassuring to hear from brands during this lockdown. Without an allocated budget, the business will not be able to reach out to their customers. So, a competitor could market to the business’ customers and steal them away, leading to a reduction in business. This is a perilous situation for any business (or club).

To maximize these limited budgets and achieve effective targeting, data science and user segmentation can make all the difference. Data analysis can help you set up an optimized member retention and sales program. Machine learning techniques can use insights from buying behavior to segment loyal members into user clusters. A separate promotion strategy specific to each user cluster is an efficient way to leverage member retention budgets. This clustering and targeting technique enables clubs to maximize revenue from existing members while driving new member referrals.

With marketing budgets being tighter than ever, user segmentation will help membership teams use their budgets efficiently. With businesses currently struggling with reduced revenue, loyalty programs operating with efficient member retention budgets can prove to be their silver bullet for growth. Retention is the new growth. With a targeted approach, your Club can be the success story that others want to emulate.

 

Five Ways Hospitality Technology Can Be a Member/Guest Service Differentiator

Every private club and hotel's success starts with friendly guest interactions. Your staff answers the phone enthusiastically and professionally, greets incoming guests with a smile, and maintains an upbeat disposition during their in-person interactions.

In the information age, friendly guest interactions must necessarily go beyond face-to-face encounters and follow-up phone calls. It must cross over into your guest’s digital experience.

Cutting-edge hospitality technologies let luxury properties offer more efficient, communicative customer service across multiple channels while still maintaining the essential friendliness of hospitality. Here are five ways clubs and hotels are leveraging these exciting new platforms as guest service differentiators.

  1. Recognizing Loyal, Return Guests

Just as Amazon saves a shopper’s preferences, many hospitality platforms store information about their guest’s favorite restaurants and spas, or their birthdays and anniversaries. This new kind of hospitality technology effectively improves the level of guest service a property can offer. It helps properties not only recognize loyal returning guests, but provide them with a highly personal experience.

Robert Sereci, General Manager at Medinah Country Club is taking this challenge on head on, “We are working with a 3rd party company to develop analytics to better understand member usage with the data collected [by our POS and tee time systems]. Our current vendor has almost zero analytics.”

The Cosmos Club in Washington DC started a “Longevity Recognition Program” that tracks members when they reach 30, 40, and 50 years of membership.  Mitchell Platt, General Manager said, “We send out a congratulatory letter and meal certificate to show appreciation.

  1. Personalizing Each Visit

To make a visit memorable, it must be tailored to the guest. Starting from their initial point of contact with a guest, your staff should collect details about a guest’s preferences. CRM systems now contain information about dietary restrictions, and other personal needs and preferences.

Russ Snella, Manager of IT Strategy and Solutions, formerly at the Union League Club says, “Every generation communicates differently. If you are not using their method of communications you are wrong. Every form of communications is required.”

Even a quick search through GHIN will give you insight to where a guest has recently played golf. Once a guest arrives at a property, the staff updates the guest’s profile. This high-touch service environment personalizes the guest experience and ultimately cultivates long-term customer loyalty.

  1. Using Member-Only Mobile Applications

Many members, especially millennials, prefer communication via mobile devices. To effectively greet this audience and offer them attentive guest service, club and hotel properties are using members-only mobile applications to field requests, use on-property text messaging, and increase social engagement.

Desert Mountain Club in Scottsdale, AZ is currently in development of a full-service member mobile app. With six (soon to be seven) golf courses and clubhouses, nine restaurants and grills, and dozens of events and classes each week, navigating Desert Mountain can be a challenge. “Beginning this fall, members will be able to reserve tee times, dining reservations, book spa appointments and manage event sign-ups with one touch,” says Kim Atkinson, Director of Marketing and Communications. “We’ll also use the app to push notifications to groups based on preferences and interests, and will work to enable members with common interests to connect with one another.”

Sequoyah Country Club in Oakland, CA recently opened a new state-of-the-art wellness center and installed Technogym equipment and technology solutions. In 2017 Technogym partnered with IBM to create a “human-like” virtual coach, able to interact with people using natural language, and to offer them personalized training programs based on their goals and context conditions (such as weather, agenda, health conditions, food intake) in order to enhance a healthier lifestyle.

  1. Building Long-Term Customer Loyalty

How do properties build a successful loyalty program without it becoming intrusive? Some properties are automatically enrolling repeat guests into their loyalty programs, and then offering personalized invitations, individualized concierge services, and other high-touch experiences based on their visits. Others use their guests’ transactional data to offer personalized gifts.

Preferred Golf, a division of Preferred Hotels and Resorts offers points members can use towards golf trips and experiences. By their members using their iPrefer rewards, Preferred Hotels and Resorts are better positioned to personalize the guest experience while they are visiting one of their 750 hotels worldwide.

  1. Streamlining Technology Deployment

Issues with connectivity, fragmented ecosystem, and personnel training can prevent a hiccup-free deployment. New, innovative hospitality software can be deployed quickly and easily. This software is user-friendly, decreasing the time needed to train staff.

Companies like Atlantic IT have tech and sales staff with experience at Top 100 private clubs to assist with deployment of new technologies. Krystal Triumph, Director of Business Development says, “With every club being unique and having custom requests for integration, we’ve learned that there really isn’t a one size fits all platform. So, we’ve developed standards and best practices to help our clients’ use technology to standout and create a personalized experience for their members.”

Club and Hospitality technology is advancing at a breakneck pace. As your property considers new platforms and applications, review these five methods of using technology as a guest service differentiator.