Carmen J. Mauceri, CCM, Chief Operating Officer/General Manager at The Club at Mediterra in Naples, Fla. offers proven ideas for quickly and effectively integrating new members within the club community.
By Carmen J. Mauceri, CCM • Chief Operating Officer/General Manager, The Club at Mediterra • Naples, Fla.
Hopefully, your club enjoys many new members every year. When you acquire a new member, how well do you get to know them? How quickly do they get to know you? And, most importantly, what do they want and need?
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou
The new member arrives excited. They have a new opportunity to gain more friends, write a new chapter in their lives, and enjoy a new variety of amenities. Their first impression of you was great, and now they are ready to be convinced they made the right decision by joining your club.
So, everything is good, right? Maybe. If you don’t have a well-developed New Member Orientation Program, you might be leaving their first impression to chance.
I think we all know that it is important to make a great first impression and to make it right away. But we might be going about it the wrong way. Many clubs provide new members with manuals of information and give lengthy presentations—when all they really want to do is have a good time, already!
We, the professionals, need to understand that new members are not interested in knowing everything there is about the club all at once, or maybe ever. Sure, some people enjoy reading bylaws or committee-meeting minutes—but most just want to start making friends and enjoy their new club.
At Mediterra, our number-one goal for new-member orientation is to engage them…immediately.
“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll learn.” ― Albert Einstein
To create an engaging and thoughtful new-member orientation process, your team needs to think like a new member. If we just joined the club, what would our wish and needs lists include?
Here are seven things new members are thinking about, in no particular order:
1. We want easy access to information.
2. We want “insider tips.”
3. Who are the go-to people?
4. Did I miss something?
5. Is something coming up that I can do?
6. What is the easiest way to make a new friend?
7. I hope I do not have to sit through a boring presentation.
And here are seven things we do at The Club at Mediterra to try to answer these questions and meet these needs:
1. Providing easy access to information. Our orientation is self-directed and incorporates several mediums. After approval, new members receive their welcome letter, which includes a link to their online orientation to be completed at their leisure from anywhere in the world. The orientation is a flow-through read that provides a basic overview of the club with little clutter.
2. Providing “insider tips” through a new spin on orientation. Our Welcome Video is a short film that features various managers sharing tenured-insider tips that will help every new member feel as if they have been here for years. To give you an example, the video covers “need to knows” such as the busiest days and times in the restaurants, which events sell out the quickest, how to properly rake the golf course bunkers, and who to contact if they are looking to buy a case of wine. It is a fun and engaging way of introducing the team and giving new members important ideas for getting the most out of their membership.
3. Getting to know the go-to people. After orientation is complete, we send an e-mail to every staff person providing them with the new member’s preferences, photo, and a short bio. We learn all we can about the new member from both the interview with someone from the Membership Committee and the required survey during the online orientation. The survey asks specific questions, from preferences and allergies to shirt sizes and favorite colors, which allows our team to personalize their experience before we even meet.
4. Making sure they didn’t miss something. After completing the online orientation, the new member schedules a follow-up meeting with our membership director, to make sure all questions have been answered. This is when the new member receives their Starter Kit and a personalized set of gifts (which were purchased using the information we learned from their survey). The Starter Kit (see photo at right) is complete with guest policies, deportment, website instructions, and more. This makes sure the member, who is probably on information overload, has handy guide sheets of the most relevant information for immediate engagement.
5. Highlighting what’s coming up that they can do. As a new member, you may want to know what social events, groups, and other activities the club is hosting, and how you can get involved. At the follow-up meeting, our membership director highlights some of the most popular upcoming events that the new member may want to attend and provides them with their ‘Medi-Pass,’ which includes complimentary vouchers to use in each area of the club, further speeding up their engagement.
6. Helping them meet new friends right away. Now that they know some ‘inside tips’, have completed orientation, and are informed of the upcoming social events, it is time to make friends and start using the club. To help make that seamless, each new member is matched with an Ambassador from our Ambassador Committee, who invites them to an event or to dine, introduces them to others and is available to answer any questions, member to member. The Ambassadors are an invaluable resource to those who are new.
7. Avoiding the boring presentations. Instead of sharing a presentation with information new members may not remember, we host monthly happy hours where they can meet and mingle with other new members and the entire Ambassador Committee. These New Member Happy Hours include games like Ice Breakers, Scavenger Hunts or Department-Head Trivia with club managers.
These are just a few of the things that have worked well for us at Mediterra. It’s important to always remember that in the hospitality industry, we are here to have fun. And new-member platforms should be just that —fun, engaging, and multifaceted.
Because again, the goal is to make sure every new member feels welcome, involved, and part of your club’s fabric immediately—and aren’t “new” for long. C+RB