The Club Communication Hierarchy – How to Keep Members Engaged & Happy

By Priya Kumar, Director of Marketing & Strategy, Northstar

The best clubs in the world are a warm welcoming place where you are surrounded by people you care about and truly want to be with. In short, "You want to be where everybody knows your name". In today's mad always-on-the-go world it is difficult for members to maintain that connection with each other, for new members to easily assimilate and find members with similar interests and for the club staff to maintain the personal connection and rapport with members.

The imperative therefore falls on the club to ensure that a support system is in place that enables and fosters an environment in which the members are connected with each other and to the club. To this end, clubs have to demand that their club software suite not just tick the boxes of accounting, POS, tee times, etc. but really have the tools and functionality that the club staff can use to foster communication on multiple levels with the members and between the members. Additionally, software solutions should not be complacent once they have a couple of methods of communication but be on the forefront, constantly pushing the envelope to make certain that they are keeping up with the rapidly changing technology and modes of communication.

A robust campaign management system that allows clubs to communicate easily with the membership through emails and newsletters is one of the most basic and essential tools. The next step of evolution on the communications hierarchy would be the club website where members can access multiple club calendars so that they can easily find activities and events they are interested in. Members can also indicate on the website areas of interest so that they receive customized newsletters or updates. Websites are also a great way for members to make reservations, access real-time charges, and make online payments. Social networking portals and buddy list management features on the website allow members to form deeper connections and sign up easily for events at the club. In 2018, it should be a given that the club website is responsive so that it can be easily accessed on a laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

Since 2016, the number of users who access the internet on their smartphones is more than those who access it on their desktop. Mobile phones and the best way to utilize them to improve communications and connectivity bring us to the next level of the hierarchy. Mobile Apps are 1.5 times faster than a mobile website and members are likely to check in much more frequently with an app than logging on to the website. Users love personalized content for an immersive experience and mobile apps make it easy to offer tailored communication. One of the most important features of the mobile app is the ability to send instant notifications to an individual or a group of members. Push notifications are received regardless a user opens the app or not and again statistics show that people are more likely to read a push notification than "yet another" newsletter or email from the club.

The above discussion has primarily been centered on communications between the club and members and between members. However, the value your club software suite brings should be over and above this. Technology should be used in service of improving the member experience and ensuring they have personalized, customized service at the club. Mobile Apps with location-based services can alert staff about pre-booked resources like a golf cart so that it is ready when the member arrives at the pro shop.

Staff-centered applications on the phone or tablet are the next level of the communications hierarchy. These apps give the staff key data about each member so that they can be greeted by name or wished if they are celebrating an anniversary or birthday. The staff app has the ability to capture information about guests at the club and send the information to the Membership Director along with the sponsoring member details. Staff can also enter notes specific to a member in the app so the next time 8-year Joe comes in, the staff remembers to congratulate him on his game-winning goal that dad was proudly bragging about 2 days ago. These are the moments that make a club? it makes the member a lifetime cheerleader who recommends the club to their friends as the Place to Be!