Maximizing Value To Members During Tough Environmental Circumstances Like The Pandemic By Leveraging Technology

(As posted in the July 2020 issue of the PCMA Club Membership Marketing Magazine)
By Brian Hall Director of Sales Northstar & Priya Kumar Director of Marketing Northstar

Even before the end of the first quarter, 2020 became a landmark year as the COVID-19 pandemic struck nearly every inhabited corner of the globe. Clubs, like the rest of the world, have been severely impacted by the pandemic. Thankfully, clubs throughout the USA are emerging from the “pandemic shutdown”.

A good club is known for its service: going above and beyond the norm to ensure the needs of its members are met. However, in the unique and challenging pandemic circumstances, clubs found themselves struggling to provide value-added service to their members when most of their facilities (dining rooms, golf courses, gyms, pool, etc.) had to be closed. Then when allowed to reopen, follow a whole new set of rules to enforce social distancing.

When existing paradigms suddenly shift, it behooves both technology providers and club managers to explore how the current software a club is using can be extended, stretched, and pushed to accommodate new circumstances. A good software suite is usually tailored to the needs of its industry but should include flexibility that allows it to be multipurposed.

As the environment changes, technology providers need to assess the situation and see what they can do to help their customers cope with the “new reality”. We may need to have fewer people in the Pool Area, Grill, or Gym to maintain Social Distancing, for instance. This may involve:

  1. Modifying current modules to enforce social distancing rules on the golf course, or use of events & activities reservations to sign up for the gym, swimming pool lanes, etc.
  2. In many states, dining capacities are reduced substantially. The use of Dining Reservations within areas of the club (such as the Grill) where traditionally has been “no reservations required” can be used to avoid too many members arriving at one time.
  3. Fewer Members at the club does not always mean fewer services. Member Self-Ordering for F&B Items, or online grocery/essentials items for pick up (or delivery) provide meaningful services. As a bonus, it may help the Member satisfy their minimum requirements.
  4. Lottery Systems for the golf course and member events may also help to equitably “share” limited capacities. If a club must cut back on seats available for that member event or tee times, a Lottery System can help avoid some getting more than their “fair share”.

As businesses re-open everywhere, and clubs are no exception, there is a drive to eliminate “paper passing” as much as possible. Single use menus are now in place; used once, and then discarded. Clubs can take that a step further: Eliminate the “Member Chit” altogether, with the ability formembers to sign and close their chit right from their mobile device.

During any change, communication is key. When the club must alter service levels or close operations temporarily, it is vital that the communication channels (email, push notifications, etc.) between the club and members remain open. Clubs sometimes have a limited amount of mass email capacity (SMTP Services) from their communication module or provider – this is one of the areas where a technology partner can help – to not just identify this limitation to the club, but see how it can help address the limitation by increasing email capacity if needed. Enabling clubs to communicate frequently, in a targeted manner, helps keep the members connected to the club in an environment where there is potential chaos.

The “Member Experience” is why we are ALL here. Technology providers have a front row seat in the vast club arena and can see the myriad of unwanted trials clubs face today. As the providers see member services challenges arise, the good ones will assist to learn about and facilitate best practices and share this knowledge (and resulting solution) with all their partner clubs. Clubs should communicate their needs and ideas with their technology vendors; it helps them grow – and thus improve the member experience. These times are certainly not painless, but developing new ways to amplify member services makes it all worthwhile.