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Pulse Survey in Review: Strategic Planning in 2016

McMahon Group conducted their annual Pulse Survey in the fall of 2015 testing many major aspects affecting private clubs. The information gathered provides a wealth of information and trends on where the club world is headed in 2016—and how they are planning for it. Below are highlights from the final report.


• Just fewer than 55 percent of respondents
believe the current economy will
have a positive impact on their club in
2016 compared to 2015. Forty percent
believe there will be no change
compared to 2015.

• Sixty-two percent of clubs responding
stated they have a strategic plan. This is
the highest level since we started asking
this question in 2010.


• When asked how clubs would be
improving member satisfaction, here
are the top five ways:

1. Improve dining quality (66%)

2. Attract more member usage (63%)

3. Doing more capital projects (48%)

4. Improve recreation facilities and
programs (47%)

5. Survey members (41%)

• Fifty-five percent of respondents are
expecting membership growth in 2016,
4 percent are expecting it to decline
and the remaining 41 percent said they
do not expect a change.

• The chart below compares results from
previous Pulse Surveys and shows a
decline in clubs using strategies to
bring in new members:

• Seventy-six percent said they are going
to be using special strategies for
retaining existing members with
improving communications and
improving facilities being the most
popular strategies.


• Seventy percent of respondents stated
their 2015 a la carte dining business
was up compared to 2014. Seventyfour
percent of respondents predict
their a la carte business will be even
better in 2016 compared to 2015.


• Eighty-four percent of respondents said
their club was in excellent or good
financial condition.

• The table below shows the trend of
what clubs are doing with initiation
fees in 2016—raising, lowering or
keeping them the same:


• Eighty percent of respondents stated
they have a communications director
on staff. Of these clubs with a communications
director, only 30 percent are
full time.

• The most important communication
methods to club executives continue to
be e-mail blasts, the website and the
newsletter. The one method that has
started to grow over the years is mobile
applications. Fifty-three percent stated
it was important compared to 43
percent in 2013.

• Public social networking sites continue
to see increased use among clubs as
shown in the chart below: 


• Forty-five percent of respondents expect
to spend more on facility improvements
in 2016. Twenty-five percent expect to
spend less and the remaining 30 percent
will spend the same.

• Twenty-two percent of clubs responding
stated they have a very casual members’
lounge (similar to a Starbucks or
Panera) for their members.

• Thirty-one percent of clubs responding
offer babysitting services for members,
and 21 percent have a child/tween
room for older children.

Club Trends Winter 2016