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How the University Club of Boston Utilized a Holistic Approach to Communications through a Major Renovation to Great Effect

Founded in 1891, the University Club— known as the UClub—is Boston’s premier athletic and social club, offering its members an array of aquatics, squash and fitness programming as well as a social component that includes activities for all ages, seven days a week, year-round. With an emphasis on creating a sense of community and an elevated experience for members and their families (approximately 2,500 in all), the club recently underwent a major renovation, enhancing the facilities from top to bottom. Renovations are exciting, but construction, of course, can be disruptive, so it was important to effectively communicate with members throughout the process.

When she came to the UClub for an interview fresh out of college with a communications degree, Jillian Furchak had little exposure to private clubs. But as she listened to the description of the communications position the club was creating just before renovations started, she instinctively understood the assignment: Create and implement a communications strategy to elevate the UClub’s digital presence, transform its member outreach and maintain transparency and engagement through construction. During the last four years, Furchak and UClub leadership have used digital media informational campaigns and have expanded their member outreach channels to include an overhauled website, member app, email campaigns, printed posters, flyers and newsletters, and frequent social media posts. This holistic approach has proven very effective for the club.


One of the first things the new communications director did was work with partners to build a new website with increased functionality that incorporated an elegant, contemporary, yet vibrant design that better conveyed the UClub’s true essence. Using new website fonts and colors, the club developed a style guide it then applied to all club materials, including logos, newsletters, Instagram icons and email banners.


Furchak developed a strategic construction communications plan to ensure she was reaching members from as many sides as possible, understanding that different people consume information in different ways.:

  • Construction Microsite and Highlight Box on the Public. Homepage. UClub launched a microsite accessible from the club’s homepage to provide ongoing details of the renovation. The site was a popular way for members to stay abreast of the details and share information with friends, receiving an average of 522 hits per 30 days, with users spending an average of two minutes, 25 seconds exploring the page.
  • Navigation on the Member-Only Side of the Website. The club added a construction updates tab that was regularly populated with construction progress, any effects on service or facilities and other pertinent information.
  • Professional Video Production. Working with a local media company, the UClub developed a film series of project-related videos, including a project overview, design inspiration and vision, and the effect on UClub growth and future. These videos helped remind members of the vision and strategy behind any inconvenience and maintain transparency.
  • Monthly Emails. The club designed and sent “Hard Hat Happenings” e-mails to members, highlighting any new updates for the month, what to expect coming up and any ongoing/current club effects. Construction emails garnered an average open/read rate of 80%.
  • Regular Instagram Posts @uclubboston. On Instagram, the club highlighted all construction-related posts with a blue and gold hammer icon in a corner of the post and incorporated a “Renovation” highlight on the @uclubboston profile for easy reference. Construction-related posts are some of their top-engaged posts with an average reach of 1,031 and 92 likes.
  • Renovation Booklets. To cover all bases, they printed and distributed branded booklets about the renovation for guests and prospective families detailing the upgrades and focusing on how the completed renovations would positively affect families, business use, social spaces and departmental operations.


Another initiative the UClub has successfully launched is an effort to increase member use and engagement on the club’s Instagram account while using the platform to attract prospective members. Establishing and executing a scheduled content calendar and using posts, stories and reels, the club increased its digital footprint and uses the platform to keep members in the know, promote upcoming events and highlight the staff and the membership. Furchak uses analytics to understand what kinds of posts garner the most interest. Noticing that nine out of the top 12 liked photos feature team members, they plan content strategically and will, for example, post a photo of the executive chef with his food, not just a photo of food. In response to the increasing popularity of short-form video platforms such as TikTok, the UClub utilizes more Instagram reels and videos to recap events and highlight seasonal happenings across all departments. When the squash courts shut down, the squash pros filmed squash tips to keep members engaged. Videos and reels averaged 30-50 seconds.

The monthly Instagram post of upcoming events tends to boost registrations as members increasingly source their information directly through social media. The club also execute planned campaigns such as their “25 Days of Fitmas,” in which a fitness director and multisport coach posted a different fitness challenge video every day leading up to Christmas. Members who completed and submitted the challenge received prizes. Regardless of the type of post, Furchak tracks the number of views/likes/shares/comments of the posts and has refined the club’s strategy based upon the data.

“The club has invested so much in the physical facilities and providing members and guests with a high-end, best-in-class experience in every facet of the club from the minute they walk through the door,” said Furchak. “But the UClub community is truly one that isn’t confined by the club’s walls—so whether interacting on Instagram or on the club website or in the app, we strive to ensure it aligns with the UClub’s commitment to service excellence. Our communications plan was definitely crucial during construction, and we will continue to build upon the foundation we’ve established to keep our members truly connected and engaged.”