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The Future Looks Family Focused: Distinct Opportunities for Private Clubs

WE ALL KNOW that focusing on family is becoming a more important factor in the private club world—in fact, we’ve been headed in this direction for years. But what does the new family focus really mean for today’s clubs? Are we hoping to attract countless new members in their twenties with young children? That might be nice, but it’s not entirely realistic. So what’s driving this need to adapt?

The phrase “young family” often meant a couple in their twenties: Two young children, a starter home in the suburbs, and in the early stages of their career. This obviously isn’t the typical profile for membership to a private club, but if we take into consideration the changing factors impacting younger generations, the typical profile of a “young family” begins to change.

Studies show that Generation X, and millennials even more so, are waiting longer to have children than previous generations. The result of this change is that parents with young children are no longer in their early twenties, they’re in their mid-thirties or even forties. They have established careers, diverse interests and less free time to pour into their non-child-related activities.

With so many clubs interested in filling the void that retiring baby boomers will leave in the years to come, the foregone conclusion that this gap will be filled by similar persons in their mid-thirties and forties now brings a lot of new considerations.

In my own case, a typical weekday evening often consists of a 40-minute commute home from the office, picking up dinner and dropping off dry cleaning all before crossing the threshold. Upon arriving at home, I’m on baby-duty while my wife fits in a workout, and when she’s back we switch, and it’s my turn to hit the gym. Then comes dinner, putting the baby down for the night, and if we’re lucky, 20 minutes to ourselves before we do it all over again.

So, why is my typical routine relevant? Because to the new generation of “young” families, the amenities that become most important are sometimes the most basic. If your club, like so many others, is interested in attracting the new breed of young families, then ask yourself if you’re able to place a check-mark beside each of the items listed in my example of a typical evening. Does your club offer amenities such as fitness and family dining, and what about special services such as child care, after school tutoring or even dry cleaning?

The philosophy of “build it and they will come” may sound simplistic, but having amenities such as these are at the core of how and where young families choose to spend their discretionary income. In fact, studies have shown that nearly 80 percent of 22- to 38-year-olds would choose to spend money on an experience versus buying something desirable.

This is where clubs have a distinct opportunity; unlike most businesses that focus only on a single area of interest, clubs have a long history of operating multiple experience centers under one roof. It’s because of this all-in-one concept that private clubs have the opportunity to become the focal point in their members’ lives, offering the experiences that young families crave, instead of hoping to be an add-on to an already busy life.

Trevor Coughlan is director, marketing & product management at Jonas Club Software. He can be reached at [email protected].