The real threat of inflation for country clubs heading
The real threat of inflation for country clubs
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By Srishti Singh
Inflation is at historic highs, reaching levels we haven’t seen for four decades. It’s unprecedented for Millennials and GenZ. They simply haven’t seen these kinds of price spikes in their lifetimes.
Clubs have already seen the effects. For example, with elevated fuel prices and an increase in course maintenance costs, clubs are reevaluating their green fees. Some may be able to absorb the higher costs for a short while, but prices will inevitably go up. And it’s not just out on the golf course. Inflation is affecting all aspects of the operation as we see increases for everything from labor to food to shipping.
How big of a concern is this for clubs?
It would be easy to think that inflation is less relevant since most club members can absorb the increases easier than the general public. But even if members are less affected financially, it can have an impact. Nobody likes sudden price hikes. It can affect the behavior of members, leading to a pullback in the usage of the club.
Understanding the real threat
You could spend all your time and effort trying to manage price increases. But the increases are not the primary threat. Your members are seeing the effects of inflation outside of the club. They will understand the need for raising prices. After all, it’s happening everywhere.
The primary threat to the club is the surprise of price spikes.
Nobody likes to be hit with a higher price out of the blue. This unpleasant surprise can have a bigger affect on members than we may realize. This may be explained by a concept from behavioral economics called Loss Aversion (the pain of losing can be 2x as powerful as the satisfaction of gaining).
By being proactive, clubs can take the surprise out of the price spikes. The key is to communicate early and often. A complete club management software solution can be instrumental in the effort, giving you the tools to deploy email and website updates as well as text and in-app messaging.
Get out in front of price increases if you can with your messaging. This gives you the opportunity to manage the expectations of your members. If you have already changed prices, treat your communication as a follow-up to keep members updated. They may not like the unannounced spike in prices, but they will appreciate your follow-up efforts to keep them in the know.
Within your messaging, be as transparent as possible. Let members know the club is seeing increases across the board. Use specific examples if you can – this helps lend credence to your communications. One of the great benefits of all this is that, by being transparent and reporting on the effects, you won’t feel the need to defend your price increases.
Make it an ongoing effort
Think of this communication effort like any ongoing campaign you create in the communication module of your club management software.
Use all of the channels available to you. For example, consider making it an ongoing part of your e-newsletter. Give it a spot on your website – maybe make it a special member-only page that shares what is going on. Use your messaging capabilities to celebrate great values or specials at the club, sending timely notes via email, texting, and in-app messaging.
Your members will appreciate ongoing updates. Most importantly, it will keep them engaged with the club.
Don’t be afraid to do this
The club is a special place. It offers so many amenities and something members simply cannot find just anywhere: a sense of belonging. Sometimes we get so close to it, that we forget just how special it is. Make a point to celebrate the specialness in your communications. It will help remind members what a great value the club provides to their lives.
Additionally, set their expectations. Let them know that you will continue to work hard to manage the rise in costs and that you will continue to report to them. You might even consider asking for their feedback. Getting their input can make them feel even closer to the club.
Nobody likes inflation. But it is a reality that all clubs have to deal with. The good news is that with transparency and communication, you can remove the surprise that can cause people to withdraw. And along the way, build even stronger ties with your members.
To learn more about using your communications to help manage your members’ expectations, request a demo of the Northstar solution – a complete club management solution built on one database to help your club deliver exceptional value to your members.