The club industry has traveled “The Road Back” well enough that it’s now time to move on to “The Road Ahead.”
When we started our new weekly video series, “The Road Back,” last April, many clubs were still in full or significant shutdown mode, and a lot of uncertainty and trepidation remained about how the coronavirus outbreak would affect club operations for the rest of the year, if not for many years to come.
We set out to use the series to highlight clubs that were finding ways to successfully overcome the new difficulties that the pandemic was imposing on all aspects of their operations, and promoted the video segments as providing “helpful directions for meeting the coronavirus challenge and returning to successful club operations.”
We’ve now produced about 35 Road Back episodes since last April (if you have an urge to binge-watch, they’re all archived at https://clubandresortbusiness.com/category/the-road-back/). They’ve consistently received high viewership, and we’ve heard from many of you that they have served as helpful guides for you and your staffs, as you’ve tried to tackle similar issues and problems.
But even while some restrictions on operations remain as we move further into 2021, it’s becoming increasingly clear that many of those challenges have now been more than met, and that a return to success has largely been accomplished at many properties. Overall, there are plenty of signs that the club industry has traveled “The Road Back” well enough that it’s now time to move on for a look at “The Road Ahead” (and you can expect a repositioning of our video series along those lines in the near future).
It’s been interesting, in fact—for the first time in 16 years, I haven’t been able to see and talk with club managers in person at first-quarter conferences and shows, to get an idea of what lies ahead for them and their staffs and properties as they plan for the upcoming year. So I’ve been trying to catch up more via e-mail and phone, in addition to the Zoom interviews I’ve done for “The Road Back.”
And through that I’ve learned that many managers are using the time that they themselves are saving this year by not traveling and attending conferences—and in many cases, the time they still have before their golf courses and pools and outdoor dining spaces get inundated again—to take a deeper dive into being more forward-focused. And this doesn’t involve personal introspection, in the way that psychologists and management gurus use the term.
Instead, I’ve come across many cases where management teams are immersing themselves in thinking about how they can be better prepared for the ways in which the club business, and club operations, have been significantly and permanently changed by the events of the past year. These cover a wide range of areas; here’s just a sampling of some of the ones I’ve heard about most frequently:
• the need for new strategies to handle increased supply/demand issues for the golf course, pool, tennis courts and other facilities, after an influx of new members has coincided with increased use by existing ones to create unanticipated (but welcomed) usage crunches;
• reassessing the effectiveness of traditional communications approaches, both internally and externally, and how the trend to virtual communications can best be adopted;
• how new lifestyle realities that have emerged for both work and school should affect how clubs are set up and operated, to best accommodate the changing needs of members and their families;
• permanently embedding outdoor dining, takeout, “pop-ups” and other innovative uses of the property into food-and-beverage service;
• new staff-recruiting initiatives, seasonal and otherwise
With all of this and much more emerging to take in as interesting new scenery, there’s certainly no reason to keep looking in the rear-view mirror, or traveling the same old roads.