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What are some of the things we can do to attract new members to our city club?

There are many reasons to be optimistic about city clubs. First, cities are growing again, powered by the intensely urban millennials and, in many cases, older baby boomers who also want to experience the excitement of city living. Second, many city clubs went away over the past 20 years, so the ones that remain often have very few industry competitors. However, the expectations of these new users are different from those of the past. Instead of a business-centered experience, today’s target members live, play and work in the city, so the club must now facilitate each of these dimensions, not solely a business function. Additionally, competition from nonclub entities is stronger. Cities now abound with great bars and restaurants and excellent, high-end fitness clubs. Urban residences and workplaces include many features once found only at clubs. This includes buildings with fitness centers and pools, and workspaces with social and recreational amenities.

For city clubs to be successful in this environment, they need to support lifestyles. This includes traditional functions like business meetings and client entertainment, but also places that make the club an oasis in the city, one where members may drop in multiple times throughout the day for different purposes. It starts with diverse, even hip, social and dining spaces like a quick-casual café/coffee shop to a rooftop bar or a room for an elegant dinner. This social platform should be combined with spaces that promote health and work: A great fitness complex with programs and classes, and communications centers that make it easy to be productive outside the office. The best way to attract new members is to offer experiences and facilities that provide value for their target market. For the city club of the future, this means connecting your members to the reasons they live in the city—to experience the culture, enjoy sports, arts and entertainment and be productive.   

Frank Vain is president of McMahon Group, Inc., a premier full-service, private club consulting firm serving more than 2,000 private clubs around the world. He serves as NCA Vice Chairman and chairs the Communications Committee. He can be reached at [email protected].