2010 National Club Conference

Union League Club, Chicago, Ill.

National Club Conference Provides Club Leaders Insight into Trends and Government Matters Affecting the Industry

In these pivotal times of recovery, numerous challenges face the private club industry—making the National Club Association’s annual National Club Conference an essential resource and event for private club leaders. This year’s conference, held outside of Washington, D.C. for the first time, aimed to equip industry leaders with information on best practices to ensure that clubs remain financially sound and stay on top of current trends and government matters through timely and relevant educational sessions. The 7th annual National Club Conference held in Chicago, Ill., on May 23-24 included top-notch education programs and spectacular special events, including a progressive dinner at three of Chicago’s top city clubs: The Chicago Club, The University Club of Chicago, and The Union League Club of Chicago.  

Membership Marketing, Private Status and Web 2.0
Behind every healthy private club is a healthy pool of membership candidates. In the conference’s first session, Membership Marketing: Best Practices, Beth Meister, president of Club Marketing & Communications emphasized the importance of treating membership recruitment and retention as a sales process. From understanding who your current members are to prospecting for new ones and communicating with current membership, Beth illustrated effective and efficient processes to ensure a healthy stream of membership and loyal pool of current members. At the end of the presentation, club managers had actionable steps they could use to improve their membership recruiting and retention practices.  Download the presentation.

In the next session, When World’s Collide: The Internet, Marketing and Private Status, Kevin Reilly of Witt Mares and John Blake of MembersFirst, Inc. offered attendees insight on how club recruitment, marketing and retention changed in the world of Web 2.0? Blake began his presentation by illustrating the significance of the Internet boom and the subsequent growth of communication channels. As the Internet and social media become accepted as the norm for other organization’s marketing efforts, is it a wise idea for private clubs to follow suit? Contrary to the explosion of social networking, blogs, and forums, Kevin Reilly answered with a resounding no and emphasized the importance of promoting member services when describing the club to the public as a way to market your club without jeopardizing the club’s private status. Download the presentation.

Insight from Capitol Hill
The featured keynote speaker, the youngest member of Congress, Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) shared his views on the politics affecting the club industry and the best ways for individuals to get involved to shape our political future. Some of Schock’s suggestions included writing letters and placing phone calls to political leaders, as well as getting involved with grass roots political events as a way to shape our government’s future. In addition, he presented insight into the state of the Republican Party as well as a plea to get involved for the betterment of the country. Schock also provided an insightful view of the historical importance of mid-term elections, how they’ll shape decisions being made today and how these decisions can affect our way of life for 20 years.

In the session Government Matters: Washington Update, NCA’s Brad D. Steele summarized the political climate as well as key legislative changes that significantly impact the private club industry. Steele began his presentation by giving audience members a snapshot of the political make up of both the Senate and House of Representatives, re-emphasizing the point Congressman Schock made regarding the importance of the upcoming mid-term elections for the industry. Steele then turned his focus to the significant impact the new health care reform law will have on the club industry. Without doubt, this new law will mean private club leaders will have to change the way they deal with their members and employees as they begin complying with the requirements found in the legislation. Download the presentation.

Trends, Projections and Forecasts

The Hospitality Industry Update & Economic Outlook, presented by B. Hudson Riehle of the National Restaurant Association, answered lingering questions regarding the current economic outlook for the hospitality industry and identified industry trends that clubs need to watch in the coming months. Riehle’s data suggest all aspects of the hospitality industry (hotels, restaurants, travel and tourism) were negatively affected by the economic uncertainty in 2009, but early signs point to a slight recovery in 2010. Is the worst behind us? Riehle is cautiously optimistic that 2010 hospitality statistics illustrate the long awaited recovery process is underway. Riehle also focused on top restaurant industry trends such as locally obtained goods (fruits and vegetables, meat and seafood, beer and wine), bite sized desserts and restaurants becoming “greener” to cater to environmentally conscious consumers.  Download the presentation.

imgThe importance of private clubs staying on top of trends to satisfy members’ ever-changing needs and wants was the focus of the last educational program—Golf Industry Trends by Douglas Howe of Century Golf Partners. During this session, Howe presented the audience with trends and benchmarking data for clubs to evaluate themselves with their industry counterparts. Howe began his presentation echoing Riehle’s findings that consumer, small business and golf consumer confidence is beginning to stabilize, if not show signs of growth. However, a major concern for private clubs is the attraction and retention of members as its primary challenge. In order to address this challenge, he presented attendees with his findings on what factors members consider when joining a private club: convenience, golf course quality, and amenities for the family. Howe also presented the benefits of private clubs offering concierge services, travel benefits, life experience services (entertainment, escapes) and online member benefits. Having the ability to offer these benefits can increase member’s value perception, thus increasing membership satisfaction and membership retention. Download the presentation. 

The educational sessions and events of the 7th annual National Club Conference were among the highest rated programs ever offered and are sure to provide compelling reasons to attend in 2011 as the National Club Conference returns to Washington, D.C., to celebrate NCA’s 50th anniversary. Stay tuned for more information about plans for this milestone year.