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Aerial view of Ocean Reef Club

Country Club Membership Retention

Posted on December 17, 2013 | Read time: 4 minutes

In today’s ever-changing world of country club marketing, one aspect that every marketing director should focus on is social programming. In years past, primary social engagements revolved around golf tournaments, drinking, and eating. Today clubs are catering to a more diverse and younger audience that is interested in a variety of diverse interests therefore wellness, experiential learning, culinary events, learning engagements, and social interaction should be incorporated into every country club’s social calendar. 

Many clubs today are building interactive display kitchens where chefs can lead classes sharing new recipes, local farm-to-table produce, and techniques designed to keep people healthy and fulfilled. Some of the clubs have even filmed their efforts and run them on their club channel television stations. Another popular activity is discovering and tasting wines from different regions around the world where participants can learn the distinct characteristics of various wines. Another important consideration regarding dining is the dress code enforced at the club restaurants; most baby boomers are not interested in frequent formal dinners where jackets are mandatory.

It is predicted that the health and wellness market will increase ten percent each year during the next decade as baby boomers mature. As clubs expand their fitness offerings they have found that they need to progressively update programming and equipment available based on the latest trends. Pilates and barre training are just a couple of the latest ways to develop core strength, flexibility and an overall feeling of well-being. Many people moving from larger cities into smaller towns with country clubs are seeking these activities as part of their overall club experience. 

While the decision to join a club has become just as much a female-dominated decision as a male-dominated one, we also see spa and wellness services being expanded in country clubs. In the past, country clubs were primarily a male, golf-centric place, where women mostly had access to tennis, golf and dining, they are now becoming a full family experience. In light of this club leadership must make attempts to satisfy all generations including the wife, the children, and even the grandchildren in the family. According to ULI, the oldest and largest network of cross-disciplinary real estate and land use experts in the world, wine, food and health will be the next “golf” for country clubs over the next decade. 

One club that Cotton & Company has worked with for years is Ocean Reef Club in the Florida Keys. We believe Ocean Reef Club has done an incredible job of keying into the generational aspect of club activities. Typically, the younger aged members are somewhat bored while the adults tend to enjoy their experience. Since Ocean Reef now has three to four generations of members they have focused on offering a robust monthly calendar chock full of activities aimed at all the different ages, segments, interests and interest of every member of the family. Not only combining the typical golf and tennis activities, but also including all types of fishing, croquet, boating, diving, sailing, cooking classes, a health and fitness spa, medical center, on-site shopping and about a dozen different dining venues. In a recent survey, a legacy member at Ocean Reef Club stated, “We’ve always loved to come to Ocean Reef because every time we came as we grew up there was always something different and fun to do and a lot of people in our age group to share those experiences with. Ocean Reef Club never gets old.”  

In order to take advantage of all of these family markets and younger demographics, Cotton & Company launched a social media marketing campaign on behalf of Ocean Reef where members and friends can chat amongst themselves sharing their pride in membership. Using this initiative, not only does the Club now have a voice in casual conversation among members and prospects, but members are also actively engaging in conversation with each other in this space. They are figuring out travel plans to see who will be there when they arrive, organizing lunches at the Fishing Village Raw Bar or coordinating a spontaneous game of foosball and meeting up for drinks at the Burgee Bar in the evening. Best of all the viral nature of social networking spreads the word not only to members, but also to their friends and contacts that could be potential new member residents. 

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