We Just Want to Talk to Our Members…

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This just in…our CEO of Clubster, Don Williams has written an article to be published in the Sept/Oct issue of Boardroom Magazine (the Official Trade Publication of the Association of Private Clubs and Directors).

Check it out…

We Just Want to Talk to Our Members…

By: Donald N. Williams

Recently I saw a cartoon that showed two men sitting at a bar… probably a lot like the bar in your club… and one man was saying to the other, “I used to call people, then I got into emailing, then texting…now I just ignore everyone”! As I smiled at the humor, I thought about my life and how much my own communication with family, friends and business associates has changed. I realized that many people do not take calls anymore…especially my own kids.

Could it be happening in the lives of your members? Is it possible that they might be shutting down on the traditional means of communication, gradually tuning you out along with their family, friends and business associates? The tough question facing club executives is this: are you evolving with your members, or working against the trend in your efforts to communicate?

Technology is a broad term in our world today. Clubs that think the only technology they use is the accounting and point-of-sale systems could not be further from the truth. In reality, much of the members’ experience in your club today is driven by technology. Golf carts contain more technology than the largest main frame computer IBM built in the early 1980s. Property security systems run on several levels of technology for viewing and monitoring what goes on at the club. Irrigation systems are driven by software. Phone calls are probably answered and routed by an electronic system. The list of technology-based solutions that combine to keep your club running is a long one. Not endless, but very long and crucial to your operation.

All of these technologies make everything easier and more efficient for everyone, but most run behind the scenes—club members don’t even think about them. The most exciting technology improvements we see coming are in the area of communications. Clubs need a way to communicate effectively with members, and members want to communicate easily with the club and with each other. I’m convinced that the solution is Social Media or Social Networking, via desktop computers, laptops, Ipads, PDA’s and cell phones.

Social networking is a technology that clubs will have to embrace if they hope to retain and add new, younger, affluent members. It gives members what they are used to in other areas of their lives… communications delivered in a concise format, with quick to reference links for additional information. We are facing a new generation of members who will only stay tuned in if they can control how much information they get, where they get it and when they get it.

Many clubs are considering Facebook and Twitter as tools to communicate. These technologies do have some benefits, but in their current form these public forums also carry along with them real privacy concerns in an industry where privacy is paramount. New technologies are being developed that will address these issues, but until then, clubs must proceed with great caution.

And even in light of these trends, we know that all the technology in the world will never replace a direct table visit from the food and beverage manager asking if everything is ok, or the club pro walking the driving range casually speaking with golfing members.

After all, your members are allowed to ignore you, but you are never allowed to ignore your members.

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