Recent events have created an opportunity for private clubs to continue to push forward and invest in technology. This trend will gain further momentum as “next-gen” board and committee members expect technology to be leveraged to enhance their experience both as club members and as volunteer leaders, and as club managers demand more technology-based tools to help them and their staffs deliver on those expectations.
Clubs that remain in the mindset of being “too traditional” for technology will continue to fall behind, but now at a much faster pace. The continued shift toward embracing a high-tech operation is a bridge to establishing the founda- tion of an elevated and high-touch club environment.
Previously, new tech came in the form of physical equipment and techniques such as security cameras or member photos and preferences on the point-of-sale system. But members didn’t really need to see it, and there were times you didn’t even want members to know you had it.
Today, members don’t care if they see the technology or have to use it themselves. The top priority is ensuring there is ease in engaging with the club, by leveraging high-tech to create a high-touch experience marked by high levels of customization and convenience, increased speed of service, enhanced accessibility, and members feeling they have more control over their user experience.
These tech features that weren’t being used 10 years ago are commonplace in clubs today:
- QR codes for menus, events and club information.
- iPads for ordering, displaying wine lists and signing up for tee times or lessons.
- Apps for members to interact with the club and access club information.
- App-based/interactive security cameras. Staff scheduling software.
- Video training modules for employees, boards and committees.
RECRUITING: CANDIDATES PRIORITIZE TECH
Top candidates for key positions that clubs are recruiting for will look at the tech tools that are in place to help them and their teams be successful. Clubs that are not making technological invest- ments in their operations and amenities won’t attract and retain top talent. Club executives and department heads simply cannot be successful in today’s private club landscape without a proactive technology budget and plan in place.
Top job candidates prioritize the private clubs that embrace technology when considering their next career opportunities. We often hear questions about which tools, resources and amenities are in place. Candidates also want to know how advanced existing online security measures are and what kinds of cyber protections are in place. Communication platforms and forms of technology that help club facilities be more compliant for members and employees are also increasingly important.
Other high-tech aspects that candidates now seek include:
- Access to industry trends, data and analytics.
- Human resources and performance-review software.
- Communication platforms for members and board/committees.
- Survey and feedback collection platforms.
- Progressive member amenities such as:
- Off-course golf entertainment.
- Wearable fitness/wellness features.
- On-demand/virtual fitness/wellness classes.
- Health data collection to measure progress.
- Flexible office features such as wireless printing, high-speed internet and other conveniences that allow for the ability to work from anywhere.
GOING HIGH-TECH IN GOVERNANCE
There are positive outcomes for clubs that use technology to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of their governance model. Technology in club governance is allowing boards and committees to be more informed, which results in increased productivity. Embracing technology from a governance perspective also makes volunteer leadership a much lighter lift, thus providing a better service experience overall.
Here are some examples of how technology is now being applied to club governance:
Club managers can more easily distribute articles, podcasts and other relevant media to help board and committee members be well-read about the industry as a whole, versus just focusing on club-specific matters. When board and committee members have access to industry insight, they can make more informed, educated and well-rounded decisions.
Secure portals with dashboards displaying how key performance indicators can be tracked, along with other key data, provide real-time insights on progress. The highest performing clubs are now using key performance indicators on three levels: board, committee and per operational department. This enhanced reporting is easier to read, and access to it allows board and committee members to be more informed, leading to more efficient meetings.
Secure and live communication platforms are helping boards proactively address problems as they arise,
rather than waiting for meetings to hash out challenges. Real-time messaging is a more high-touch way to address member and staff issues and allows situations to be dealt with promptly. In addition to enhancing communication, technology also allows club leaders to track feedback and situations, document a plan and close the loop. This makes handling difficult situations more comfortable and consistent for members and staff.
Access to board and committee training materials is the wave of the future. The days of big binders and packets of paperwork have passed. Virtual onboarding and training for roles and responsibilities is saving time and offering volunteer leaders the convenience of reviewing the instruction on demand. Again, this makes live retreats more efficient when participants arrive prepared and it also offers accountability tracking for the club. This is great news from a legal-verification standpoint and allows for review of each person’s commitment to the club’s best practices.
WHAT’S STILL AHEAD
Overall, clubs will have to lean more toward high-tech going forward, because it will be necessary to provide high-touch member experiences that members enjoy and expect. Here’s a list of tech features we think most clubs will need to integrate in the next 10 years or sooner:
- Online voting.
- Beacon technology.
- Two-way text message communication.
- Platforms that gather instant feedback from members about their experiences at the club.
- Advanced software for data analytics and reporting to collect, track and analyze data to support decision-making.
- HR/management and performance review software.
- Advanced security cameras that provide easy-to-access footage, options to search specific objects or people, and immediate notifications when security parameters are breached.
- Staff-recruitment software that allows appli- cants to communicate via text and instant messaging.
- Kitchen display systems that replace printed tickets and track performance stats.
- Mobile point of sale.
Technology is a critical aspect that significantly affects both the member and employee experience. While it must be unobtrusive and not prohibitive, technology is the key to taking care of members and creating outstanding experiences for all.