Renewing a club membership used to be a straightforward matter. The member receives dues notification, pays a subscription, and club life continues. But as much as club managers may want that to be the case, increasingly, it simply is not.

The perfect storm of increased time, family and economic pressures for members means leisure outings are more heavily scrutinised and, occasionally, result in the end of membership and/or the club’s prominence in an individual’s day-to-day life.

Rather than having these decisions debated behind closed doors, with no prior knowledge that they even exist, clubs do have a vital tool at their disposal, in extending a bespoke member survey to spouses and family members.

Branching out

GGA spouse and family member surveys were introduced nearly a decade ago and what we have learned during that time unambiguously supports their role in helping club leaders develop a product and service that is relevant to the whole family.

Among the headline findings, we found:

1. Clubs typically underestimate utilisation by spouses and families. The introduction of spouse and family surveys helped clubs better understand utilisation patterns in order to:

  • Realise greater operational efficiencies
  •  Develop better informed events calendars
  • Target specific groups of spouses and families with relevant information

2. Significant variances in capital project support. Spousal and family member support can vary up to +/- 15% when compared to primary member support. Combine this with their increased involvement in the membership purchase decision, and the importance of building a plan which appeals to all comes into sharp focus.

3. Restrictions to access are a key concern. When contemplating any membership alterations which involve increased time and/or amenity restrictions, input from all member categories will help to arrive at more reasonable, rational and accepted changes and mitigate any negative impact to satisfaction levels.

A club for the entire family

Identifying the importance of both spouses and families is one thing, making changes to the club operation to increase their satisfaction levels (alongside those of primary members) is another.

Do the benefits outweigh the time and resource investment? If it’s about an underlying connection, then yes. More interaction with spouses and family members will inevitably put the club more front-and-centre in their minds, and help clarify its attributes and future role among these individuals.

There are more reasons to engage this audience too:

  • It improves buy-in for future decisions (as supported by survey findings). For example, if family members indicate their dissatisfaction with the current junior leagues at the club and provide insight on how they wish to see them improve, they are more likely to participate after the club implements an updated junior league program.
  • Spouses and family members will feel valued, and appreciate their opinions are being solicited, captured, and considered with care.
  • With the increasing influence of spouses and families on lifestyle and recreation choices, engaging them can help shape the future relevance and strategy for the club and drive overall membership sales.
  • A key challenge for clubs around the world is finding and engaging young prospects to grow the membership pipeline within the club. Collecting feedback from family members can identify the key drivers for this demographic and help position the club to best appeal to this group.

Moving out of the comfort zone

It may seem counter-intuitive to develop a future vision for your club formed from the views of those who may appear not to spend a great deal of time there.

However, across the world we are witnessing clubs making moves towards developing amenities and services which appeal to the entire family and encourage them to spend more time there. These are the clubs already profiting from family and spousal survey insights, building out the core of their membership to now include spouses and family members, and simultaneously becoming a more appealing destination to prospects.

Taking the first steps are difficult, but by seeking a wider base of opinions you might be surprised by what you learn and the future opportunities that arise.

For information on spouse and family member surveys, connect with Rob Hill at GGA (rhill@globalgolfadvisors.com). A former recipient of Boardroom Magazine’s “Strategic Planning Firm of the Year” award, GGA serves over 3,000 clients around the world from offices in USA, Canada and Europe/Middle East. GGA is a CMAE Corporate Partner and you can learn more of their credentials and expertise at www.globalgolfadvisors.com.