I recently attended the 90th Annual CMAA World Conference in Orlando. The resounding message was clear: GMs must adapt their club’s experience to meet the changing expectations of their members or risk their club becoming irrelevant. From new amenities to new tech, the theme in Orlando was CHANGE.
What’s driving this urgent need for change in our industry? Quite simply…member expectations.
Welcome to the expectation economy.
Wait. What is that? David Mattin and crew at Trendswatching define it as: “An economy of ever accelerating expectations, applied ruthlessly to every purchase decision, experience and moment of attention.”
During my CMAA session titled “Smart Clubs of the World” I used Uber’s study on shifting patience to explain how this works. To summarize, Uber conducted a study to understand why more rides get cancelled the longer they have served in a city. The simple answer was “shifting patience.” Users expect to get a ride in about 2 minutes, they’ll no longer wait much past 5 minutes.
The study led to Uber making this statement: “We realize we have to continually raise the bar, to get you home from the bar.” If Uber - the poster child for innovation realizes they aren’t meeting expectations - where does that put the rest of us who are just beginning to innovate?
It puts us squarely in the crosshairs of four macro-trends already influencing our member’s expectations. As their expectations outside of the club bleed into what they expect inside the club, GMs must proactively adapt nearly every part of the member experience.
ICYMI (in case you missed it): you can request a copy of my 90 minute session here and you can pre-register for the final Smart Clubs of the World report here. Below I introduce the four macro trends we explored with our Smart Clubs research, the forthcoming report will also include specific examples of how the smartest GM’s in the industry are adapting ahead of the curve:
Trend 1: Personalization.
Personalization no longer means monogrammed towels. Now, personalization is about self-expression and ultimately status. Spent any time on Instagram lately? Your membership is living amid the rise of the “post-material statusphere” where the only thing left is the pursuit of status - and the more it’s documented and shared, the better it is.
Your members acquire status through the unique experiences they are excited to share. Your club needs to be the place that delivers those experiences.
So how are the smartest GM’s thriving amid this trend towards (hyper) personalization? We see their response manifesting in two major ways: name recognition and radically relevant communications.
Trend 2: Holistic Wellness
Being well no longer means “not being sick.” Millennials consider wellness a daily, active pursuit that includes mind, body and soul. As such, your members (Gen X and Boomers included) are continually redefining wellness beyond the traditional gym; with fitness evolving from a singular goal to a consistent lifestyle and wellness is increasingly encompassing the combination of fitness, nutrition and mental health.
From a fitness perspective, sweating in small studios is big business. Check out these milestones from 2016: Pure Barre opened the 400th franchise location. SoulCycle began prepping for an IPO. ClassPass, the flat fee studio pass hit a $100M run rate. What’s the draw? According to studio goer’s it’s the unique offerings, personalization and social experiences (again, your club is already social, and perfectly suited to be a fitness destination).
From a nutrition standpoint, whether it is raw ingredients or delivered meal kits, your members have never had so many convenient options to enjoy healthy, organic food. During my presentation, I shared CB Insight’s Periodic Table of Food Tech. If you follow the money, nearly $5.5 Billion in 2016 was invested in food delivery startups alone. It’s clear to see that organic food, sustainably sourced and conveniently delivered is your member’s future.
So how are the smartest GM’s adapting their fitness and culinary offerings to satisfy what members crave? We see their response manifesting in two major ways: social fitness and getting the club’s kitchen into a member’s home.
Trend 3: Family
The member you served in the 80’s was dad. He used the club as a social getaway, playing golf and spending time with male members. The member you serve today is the extended family unit - especially the kids.
According to Pew Research, 1 in 5 Americans live in a multigenerational household. Nearly 40% of grandparents watch their grandchildren at least 1 day per week or more (and they have no idea what to do with them). With extended families on the rise again, millennial parents and boomer grandparents bring new attitudes and expectations for family time.
Millennial parents run their families like mini-democracies, commonly kicking off the weekend by seeking consensus on “what should we do today?” Backing off of the overscheduled days of their own childhood, millennial parents seek less structured weekends that continually offer new experiences their kids will love.
So how are the smartest GM’s adapting to the needs of the new family? We see their response manifesting in a huge shift toward amenities designed to include the whole family, not just the primary member.
Trend 4: Technology
93% of Americans with an income over 75K own a smartphone. Your entire membership (and their kids) have more computing power in their pocket than it took to launch the Space Shuttle. Smartphones have increased our expectations and decreased our patience. In nearly every industry some company has re-written our experience using technology.
We’re also tragically dependent on our smartphones. They are now our main place to connect for work, to schedule our lives, and to document important information or memories. Don’t leave home without it!
The smartest GMs are putting all that computing power and hyper dependency to work for their clubs. They’re using location services and member directories to know who’s at the club. They’re putting food & beverage and even valet services on demand. They’re using smartphones to literally unlock doors. So how are the smartest GMs adapting to advances in smartphone technology? They are making bold moves away from a “no cellphones culture” and instead, embracing what’s possible. This video will give you a taste of what they’re doing.
Your member’s expectations are never going to relent - just ask Uber. The great news is that your club is perfectly positioned to thrive amid these bigger expectations. As a place that is built on the foundation of connecting people, all you have to do is think creatively and let technology do the heavy lifting.