The social club’s membership has grown to 1,500, which it partially attributes to the resurgence of downtown Milwaukee. The club runs five shuttle buses to concert, theater and sporting events downtown seven days a week, and reports that casual portions of the club, including its sports bar, “probably do four times the business” of the formal areas.
Adjusting their business to the time-starved lives most Americans lead is something John Constantine, General Manager of the Wisconsin Club, and his staff keep in mind every day, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
The Wisconsin Club turns 125 years old in 2016. The milestone will arrive with the club on somewhat of a roll, with membership growing to 1,500. “This year will be the (club’s) best year financially, ever,” said Constantine, who has been with the club for 25 years.
Among the reasons for the club’s recent success is the resurgence of downtown Milwaukee, Constantine said. “Downtown has just been amazing the past five years,” Constantine said. “When Milwaukee is busy, we’re busy.”
The club runs its five shuttle buses to concert, theater and sporting events downtown seven days a week. Part of staying busy also means changing with societal trends. Gone is the image of a private club populated by pipe-smoking older gentlemen discussing business deals and the issues of the day. Casual dress, sports talk and catching the club’s shuttle to a concert are much more common these days, the Journal Sentinel reported.
“Back in 1994, guys couldn’t walk in here without a sport coat and tie,” Constantine said. The club has adapted, adding areas that are more casual including a sports bar area to go along with formal dining and meeting areas.
“Society is going more casual,” Constantine said. The casual portions of the club, including the sports bar area, “probably does four times the business” of the formal areas, Constantine said.
Meanwhile, membership at the country club portion of the facility is sold out. Longevity of staff members is also a part of the formula for business success, said Constantine. “We have a staff that’s like a family here,” Constantine said.
Ongoing success means every part of the club must be first rate, from the professionalism of the staff to the quality of the seafood to the “wow” factor of its events. “If the members are engaged, they are less apt to leave their club,” Constantine said. “You can get a meal here as good as any facility in Milwaukee.”
That leads to members taking ownership of the club, whether they are discussing business or just looking for somewhere to go for dinner and a theater performance downtown. “We are by far the busiest club in the state of Wisconsin,” Constantine said.
Dues for a regular membership to the Wisconsin Club are $2,832 annually. Constantine said he and his staff work constantly to attract new members to the club, no matter their generation, the Journal Sentinel reported.
“We’ve increased membership every year for the past 20 years,” he said. “We have not gone backward once. We have to make sure we don’t overlook the younger professionals in the city.”
Constantine foresees continued success for clubs that continually adjust to and anticipate trends. “Private clubs are not going to go away,” he said. “People want to network. People want to be part of something.”